Booz Allen Helps U.S. Air Force Give Flight to AI Copilot in the U-2 Dragon Lady

First military flight teams AI with highly skilled pilots

MCLEAN, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) announced today that it demonstrated the use of an in-flight artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm in support of the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command’s 9th Reconnaissance Wing U-2 Federal Laboratory. This flight is the first time AI has teamed with a pilot to successfully complete a complex mission.

“The threats facing our national security are increasingly sophisticated and it will be critical to move new innovations from the lab to the real world to combat them,” said Dick Johnson, senior vice president at Booz Allen and leader in the firm’s national security business. “This U-2 flight is an important step, demonstrating the ability of AI to work in coordination with highly skilled operators to propel complex missions forward.”

The Booz Allen team delivered on several key milestones, moving AI from the lab to the skies in fewer than 40 days and accelerating the process by:

•        Modifying an open source reinforcement learning algorithm.

•        Developing two sensor-sharing and control games for the algorithm to interact with and learn from and training it to execute in-flight tasks.

•        Developing a web-based User Interface available to pilots in flight.

•        Arranging for Program Office approvals.

•        Successfully flying the AI capability on the U-2 aircraft.

“Together, our Air Force and Booz Allen U-2 Federal Lab teams successfully operationalized artificial intelligence, enabling the AI to emulate control of sensor systems on a U-2 Dragon Lady in a training flight, marking one of the first known uses of AI on board a U.S. military aircraft,” said Dr. Jesse I. Angle, a senior lead technologist with Booz Allen.

The Federal Lab’s “Edge Processing” containerized microservices solutions improve system performance and allow for quick, dynamic prototype results inside normal acquisition timelines. Booz Allen used cutting-edge industry practices to deploy AI capability and speed the software-delivery process through automation of management and execution of containerized applications. This approach can help aircraft crews adapt to sudden needs by leveraging DevSecOps, a security-focused software-development-pipeline approach.

To learn more about how Booz Allen brings innovative technology to defense and national security missions visit


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Investor Relations – Rubun Dey, 703-377-5332

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