Pilot’s Associate Program: Background

The Pilot’s Associate (PA) Program was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA http://www.darpa.mil) under the Strategic Computing Program. The goal of this program was to investigate the applicability of emerging Artificial Intelligence capabilities in military applications. The PA was the Air Force branch of that effort administered by the Avionics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio (now, part of the Air Force Research Laboratory http://www.afrl.af.mil ). Two parallel contracts were awarded for the initial, investigation phase:

  • The Lockheed team led by Lockheed Aeronautical Systems (now part of Lockheed Martin corporation) focused on the air-to-air mission of a generic, low-observable fighter aircraft.
  • The McDonnell Douglas team led by McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) focused on the air-to-ground mission of an F-18 type platform.

While contributions from the McDonnell Douglas PA program will be welcomed on this Web site, the background of the contributors to date drives us to emphasize the Lockheed PA program.

In 1988, the Lockheed PA program was awarded the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Digital Electronics Award “… in recognition of outstanding achievement in … advancing the state-of-the-art of artificial intelligence and decision support systems into the complex, rapidly changing world of air combat.”

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