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According to Defense One, Timothy Grayson, director of the Strategic Technology Office at DARPA, described the trial as “a victory for better human and machine teaming in combat, which was the real point. The contest was part of a broader DARPA effort called Air Combat Evolution, or ACE, which doesn’t necessarily seek to replace pilots with unmanned systems, but does seek to automate a lot of pilot tasks.

“I think what we’re seeing today is the beginning of something I’m going to call human-machine symbiosis… Let’s think about the human sitting in the cockpit, being flown by one of these AI algorithms as truly being one weapon system, where the human is focusing on what the human does best [like higher order strategic thinking] and the AI is doing what the AI does best,” Grayson said.  Simulation illustrations courtesy of and

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which initially appeared in their USN - # 20 - 16 - 11 AUGUST 2020 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the Unmanned Systems News (USN), a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com.