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BAE Systems Secures AFRL Contract for AI-Based Planning Tools; Mike Miller Quoted

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BAE Systems has won a $17 million Air Force Research Laboratory contract to incorporate AI into an interactive game environment to improve the efficiency of air operations planning for contested environments.

The Technical Area 2, Plan Gaming and Outcome Analysis contract tasks BAE Systems with further developing the Fight Tonight program through the delivery of autonomy-based planner tools, the U.K.-based organization announced from Nashua, New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Mike Miller, technical director for BAE Systems’ Fast Labs, highlighted the benefits of using AI to improve this technology.

“The drag-and-drop video game-like interactions would reduce the time it takes to make a series of incremental adjustments to a plan from hours to minutes,” he said.

The company’s Fast Labs research and development unit is expected to work alongside subcontractors Uncharted Software and Kestrel Institute to build technology that will quickly create and assess multiple plans and enable selection of the strongest option.

Manual planning cycles require large amounts of time, which results in the evaluation of fewer possible options. BAE’s product is intended to deliver an interactive user interface that allows planners to quickly navigate possible futures and choose the best option in an environment prone to sudden change.

With the implementation of these tools, the selection process will consider additional generated plans, which would not be possible without technological assistance.

This contract follows a $7.8 million award from the AFRL tasking the company with delivering a suite of ML and fusion algorithms to facilitate autonomous mobile target detection, tracking and identification.

The order also accompanies three U.S. Navy contracts awarded earlier this year. The first of these awards, which was granted in January, has a value of $137 million and supports C5ISR training.

A second contract valued at $101.2 million enables the maintenance and modernization of the USS Mitscher, while an additional $123.8 million award tasks BAE with sustaining and refurbishing the USS Ross, both of which are guided-missile destroyers.