Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has partnered with the US Air Force (USAF) Test Pilot School to demonstrate an autonomous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system to advance troop effectiveness in denied communications environments.

USAF Test Pilot School Test Management Project Lead Captain Josh Rountree said: “As a remotely piloted aircraft pilot, having the opportunity to test an emerging technology and see it perform functions required for operations in denied communications environments sparks the imagination of what is possible in future ISR systems.”

The autonomous ISR system is integrated into an F-16 using a pod solution developed by Lockheed Martin. This helps in detecting and identifying the location of the target and automatically route to the target.

The autonomous ISR system can capture an image to confirm the target in a simulated, denied communications environment.

The system penetrates in contested environments, collects critical intelligence, which is essential in making informed decisions during denied communications.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works artificial intelligence solutions programme manager  George Hellstern said: “As the battlespace becomes increasingly contested, human-machine teams will enable operators to collect critical intelligence in denied communications environments, ensuring our warfighters get information they need when they need it.

“We are proud to partner to advance a novel capability, allowing the warfighter to adapt in a rapidly changing operational environment and still get critical data to perform the mission.”

Last week, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works secured a contract from the USAF to advance capabilities of the U-2 Dragon Lady (U-2) aircraft for the future battlespace.

Under the $50m contract, the company will upgrade the avionics suite that modernises the aircraft’s on-board systems for the airforce.