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USAF solicits AI-enabled battlefield C2 capabilities

An AFRL chart outlining the Battle Management of AI concept under development by the US Air Force. (US Air Force)

The US Air Force's (USAF's) main research and development (R&D) directorate is soliciting industry solutions to accelerate the air service's integration of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into its command-and-control (C2) and battle management systems.

Officials from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) issued a broad agency announcement (BAA) in March, seeking industry input on “development and application of AI to C2, new concepts and techniques for the battle management, and orchestration of AI at pace and scale”.

AFRL officials at the organisation's Rome Research Site in Rome, New York, are seeking proposals to also explore “how the use of AI by adversaries can be considered in the C2 planning and execution process and distributed and collaborative C2 to enable C2 anywhere and anyplace”, the 24 March BAA noted.

AFRL leaders have set aside USD99 million to finance R&D efforts awarded under the BAA, with individual R&D contracts ranging between USD20 million and USD200 million and a maximum duration of four years, the solicitation said. The solicited BAA White Papers will delve into specific technical areas, including AI-enabled battle management, development of federated AI tools, and the creation of generative AI tools in support of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) operations, according to the solicitation.

On battle management, BAA project leaders are aiming to codify a “Battle Management of AI” capability that will allow mission commanders to navigate “competing design factors and mission dependencies to select and deploy AI components that are compatible” with the combat requirements of a given mission or operation, the BAA stated.

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