FVL Demonstration: The Power of A3I in Action

Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft systems await maintenance Aug. 12 in the recently opened Fort Hood Unmanned Aircraft System Maintenance Hangar at Robert Gray Army Airfield, West Fort Hood, Texas. The hangar was built to provide more space for the UAS and the Soldiers responsible for piloting and maintaining them. It also features three maintenance shops, two tool rooms and a technical supply area. The hangar easily houses six fully-assembled Gray Eagles on each side, with a taxiway down the middle to provide convenient maneuvering in and out of the hangar. Elements of this image have been modified in the interest of operational security.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Army conducted a demonstration above China Lake, CA that showcased the potential of architecture, automation, autonomy, and interfaces capability (A3I) built by the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Cross-Functional Team. The purpose of A3I is to create a more cohesive networked architecture that can shorten the kill chain in today’s increasing contested battlespace.

According to this Defense News article, during the demonstration they tasked a Gray Eagle drone “with firing a small, precision-glide munition at an enemy target located on the ground. But at the last second, a higher-level threat is detected, and the munition is rapidly redirected toward a different threat, eliminating it within seconds.”

This demonstration highlighted the immense capabilities that come with A3I and the power of a networked architecture of systems. The ability to tighten the kill chain through more intuitive and effective manned and unmanned teaming is invaluable to warfighters in the field. By being able to quickly communicate threat priorities and pivot resources almost instantly contributes greatly to the lethality of today’s warfighter.

“When you talk about our kill chain, we are trying to take seconds out of our kill chain,” said Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who oversees the Army’s FVL modernization effort. “We feel like we understand the reverse kill chain — the enemy coming to get us. Our kill chain is going to get them, and we want our decision-making to be as precise and as expeditious as possible [using automation and autonomy].”

One of the most notable advantages of A3I applied in the battlespace is the ability to seamlessly pass control of the designated asset between operators. Defense News’ Jen Judson reported, “The utility of passing control to a relevant operator not tied to a ground station means taking out the middle man that doesn’t have the same advantageous access to the tactical edge another possible operator might have.”

It’s easy to see how this autonomy and automation brings lethality to a different level, especially given that A3I capabilities can be applied across domains and throughout the battlespace. Bringing better cohesion to manned and unmanned teaming will continue to be invaluable as the battlespace becomes more contested and congested.

You can read more details about the demonstration here.