RFI: Autonomy for Loyal Wingman Testbed

Funding Agency:
Department of Defense

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is issuing a Request for Information (RFI) in support of the planning/acquisition strategy for the proof-of-concept demonstration testing of autonomy for a Loyal Wingman (LW). A LW is defined as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that operates in a strike package with manned fighter aircraft. The LW is under the tactical command of the manned lead and is not tethered to a ground station or under the full-time direction of the manned lead. This is referred to as a manned unmanned teaming (MUM-T). This RFI seeks feedback on potential test assets to act as the LW and host autonomy technologies. 

AFRL plans to develop a government owned open systems architecture LW capability instantiated as one or more line replaceable units (LRU) that can be transferred between air vehicles with minimal effort. The LRU(s) will act as the “brains” of an unmanned vehicle operating as a LW to a manned fighter aircraft. The LRU(s) will host a suite of algorithms that interface with existing unmanned vehicle systems (both mission systems and flight critical systems) on a fighter class vehicle. The suite of algorithms will contain high-level reasoning capabilities that can prioritize and de-conflict system resource requests from the application suite, receive and execute commands from the manned lead, and perform system integrity monitoring. The onboard autonomy must be sufficient for the Loyal Wingman to complete all basic flight operations untethered from a ground station and without full time direction from the manned lead. 

A proof-of-concept capstone demonstration in FY22 will showcase the feasibility of mannedunmanned teaming by executing a ground strike mission in a contested environment. The capstone demonstration along with incremental flight testing will be conducted to show that the LRU(s) can safely fly an unmanned vehicle, execute mission tasks, respond to changes in the operational environment or commands from the manned lead, and adhere to mission-planned contracts. The FY22 capstone demonstration must be conducted with an unmanned wingman not a surrogate UAV with an onboard safety pilot. Incremental flight test buildup activities may be conducted with a surrogate UAV. 

Response Date: May 6, 2016




Engineering and Physical Sciences

External Deadline

May 6, 2016