The U.S. Air Force flew artificial intelligence as a working aircrew member for the first time yesterday, signaling a major leap forward for national defense in the digital age. The AI algorithm, developed by Air Combat Command’s U-2 Federal Laboratory, flew aboard a U-2 Dragon Lady assigned to Beale AFB, better known as Recce Town, USA. Developed by a small team of researchers led by Maj Ray Tierney, the algorithm trained the AI to execute specific in-flight tasks that would otherwise be accomplished by the pilot. The Beale team designed this algorithm in response to a direct challenge from Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Dr. Roper posed the challenge to Beale’s Federal Lab only two months ago, increasing the significance of the accomplishment. The lab executed Roper’s challenge with an AI design capable of application beyond the U-2 to further strengthen joint all-domain command and control across the entire DOD.