AI Fighters: The Future of the US Army?

The United States seeks to regain its air superiority through sixth-generation fighters with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in its air fleets.

Artificial Intelligence in sixth generation fighters

The United States Air Force and Navy are working on developing new generation fighters to maintain their superiority. The Navy requested more than $1.5 billion to develop its sixth-generation fighter, the F/A-XX, intended to replace the fleet of F/A/-18E/F Super Hornets.

The F/A-XX is intended to operate on aircraft carriers with and without a human crew, being the “quarterback” of the service in future operations. The military’s acceptance of autonomous aircraft has increased with the development and improvement of UAVs.

The director of the Air Warfare Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations envisions a future 60-40 ratio between drones and manned aircraft.

AI Fighters: The Future of the US Army?

United States and its unmanned fighters

Using AI fighters instead of human pilots could be cost-effective and reduce loss of life. However, these fighters have not been tested in combat, which could pose a risk to the United States in its quest to outdo its adversaries.

The MQ-25 Stingray is the face of the new unmanned aerial system. The Navy began developing in 2006, focusing on Intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance functions. The MQ-25 is expected to reach operational capability in 2025 and deploy to aircraft carriers in 2026.

With a capacity to carry 15,000 pounds of fuel over 500 nautical miles, the Stingray will outrange the Super Hornet by 300 miles, allowing other airframes to perform aerial refueling duties.

AI Fighters: The Future of the US Army?

Impact of the MQ-25 Stingray on naval aviation

The Stingray has demonstrated its capability in various critical tasks aboard the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush, including friendly airframe resupply and manned-unmanned team testing. Although she has yet to land or take off on an aircraft carrier, she is expected to impact the future of naval aviation significantly.

Navy Rear Admiral Andrew Loiselle told The Drive that collaborative efforts between the Air Force and the Navy to develop sixth-generation stealthy manned fighter jets and UAVs are well advanced, which will change the content of attack groups from aircraft carriers and their air wings.

The range of the platform and the weaponry it carries are key factors in the effectiveness of carrier strike groups. The weapons’ greater range and capacity will allow for facing contested spaces more safely and effectively.

The future of America’s air fleets will largely depend on the deployment of AI fighters and UAVs, changing how military operations are conducted.

AI Fighters: The Future of the US Army?


The commitment to sixth-generation fighters with AI and UAVs in the US air fleets seeks to regain air superiority and transform military operations in terms of range, weaponry, and combat effectiveness.