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DARPA's Squad X programme adds BAE Systems for AI integration

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Lockheed Martin have selected BAE Systems to lead integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous technologies into the agency’s Squad X programme, designed to link unmanned air and ground systems to US armed forces’ small ground units.

Prime contractor Lockheed Martin awarded BAE Systems’ FASTLabs research and development directorate a USD3.5 million contract to integrate the company’s Mission Intelligence for Tactical Systems (MITS) programme, providing “advanced sensor fusion, artificial intelligence, and autonomy” technologies for the Squad X initiative, a BAE Systems’ statement said. The MITS system “fuses sensor data, constructs and shares battlefield awareness with its human squad mates, and provides tactical electronic and kinetic support to the squad as it manoeuvres and engages enemy positions,” the statement adds.

Developed under the Squad X Core Technologies portfolio, MITS technologies and other AI-enhanced applications will result in “increasing squads’ situational awareness, while autonomous systems allow squads to increase their battlespace and area of influence”, the statement noted.

“The idea of bringing a system of algorithms and software modules that can do ... closed-loop, multiscale sensemaking and autonomy into the tactical sort of purview,” is the overall goal of the MITS programme, Eisenbies told Janes on 9 June.

“What we are really trying to do is help those [tactical] decision makers ... to make confident, good decisions,” without being overburdened with the ever-increasing flood of battlefield data via multi-domain manned and unmanned sensor systems.

A US Marine Corps infantryman sets up a firing position while covered by an unmanned ground vehicle during field drills for DARPA’s Squad X programme, held at the Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. (DARPA)

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