Shield AI Conducts AI-Piloted Flights on Sixth Aircraft, the Kratos MQM-178 Firejet

kratos mqm 178 firejet

Shield AI, Inc., a defense technology company building the world’s best AI pilot, and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: KTOS), a Technology Company in the Defense, National Security and Global Markets and an industry-leading provider of high-performance, jet-powered unmanned aerial systems (UAS), today announced the successful completion of the first phase of Shield’s AI-piloted flight-testing on-board Kratos platforms as the two companies move toward productizing Shield AI’s pilot for the XQ-58 Valkyrie.

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Having successfully flown AI pilots on five aircraft — three classes of quadcopters, the MQ-35A V-BAT, and the F-16 in fully autonomous air combat training — Shield AI’s Hivemind AI pilot has now successfully flown on and controlled the Kratos MQM-178 Firejet. These successful flights are a major milestone in the comprehensive integration project as Shield AI and Kratos look to ultimately productize another configuration of the Valkyrie, in this case with Shield AI’s Hivemind AI pilot.

“Our substantial investments in autonomy and AI design tools, infrastructure, and pipelines are what enable Shield AI to rapidly integrate Hivemind onto different classes of aircraft and most importantly, fly them safely. We’re getting faster and faster. It was over three years from signing the contract to flying the F-16; now, it’s less than 180 days for the Kratos Firejet. The vision of portable autonomy software for military hardware has been realized, flown, and deployed by Shield AI,” said Ryan Tseng, Shield AI’s CEO and Co-Founder.

“AI pilots will eventually fly all aircraft and will have a larger global impact than self-driving cars. The MQM-178 Firejet marks the sixth type of aircraft that our AI pilot Hivemind has flown. It is the second jet-powered aircraft after our AI piloted F-16 dogfights. The AI-piloted XQ-58 Valkyrie flights later this year will be the seventh aircraft and then the Kratos BQM-177 will be the eighth. Kratos and Shield AI’s joint focus on the rapid development of AI-piloted aircraft has been a terrific collaboration that is helping redefine military force structures,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s President and Co-Founder and a former Navy SEAL.

The MQM-178 Firejet fills a variety of end-to-end weapons-release training roles as a jet target aircraft system, supporting surface-to-air and air-to-air engagements. Additionally, the Tactical Firejet offers an offensive/defensive jet UAS system in the sub $500K price range per aircraft with substantial mission systems and performance capabilities. In either mission configuration (target/tactical), the Firejet delivers a high-speed, high-maneuverability, low-signature solution for replicating threats or enabling no-risk-to-American-life operational effectiveness with a level of contested environment capability.

“The collaboration between Kratos and Shield AI over these past months has been nothing short of exceptional and represents the rapid development and testing possible when motivated commercial technology companies work together with a common objective—being first to market with relevant systems to support U.S. National Security. Our joint efforts have brought together the best of both worlds – Kratos’ proven jet-powered uncrewed aircraft and Shield AI’s expertise in AI and software development. We’re thrilled about the progress we’ve made and even more excited to share further breakthroughs in the near future,” said Steve Fendley, President of Kratos’ Unmanned Systems Division.

About Shield AI    

Founded in 2015, Shield AI is a venture-backed defense technology company whose mission is to protect service members and civilians with intelligent systems. In pursuit of this mission, Shield AI is building the world’s best AI pilot. Its AI pilot, Hivemind, has flown jets (F-16; MQM-178 Firejet), a vertical takeoff and landing drone (MQ-35 V-BAT), and three quadcopters (Nova, Nova 2, iPRD). The company has offices in San Diego, Dallas, Washington DC and abroad. Shield AI’s products and people are currently in the field actively supporting operations with the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. allies.

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About Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: KTOS) is a technology, products, system and software company addressing the defense, national security, and commercial markets. Kratos makes true internally funded research, development, capital and other investments, to rapidly develop, produce and field solutions that address our customers’ mission critical needs and requirements. At Kratos, affordability is a technology, and we seek to utilize proven, leading-edge approaches and technology, not unproven bleeding edge approaches or technology, with Kratos’ approach designed to reduce cost, schedule and risk, enabling us to be first to market with cost effective solutions. We believe that Kratos is known as an innovative disruptive change agent in the industry, a company that is an expert in designing products and systems up front for successful rapid, large quantity, low-cost future manufacturing which is a value-add competitive differentiator for our large traditional prime system integrator partners and also to our government and commercial customers. 

Kratos intends to pursue program and contract opportunities as the prime or lead contractor when we believe that our probability of win (PWin) is high and any investment required by Kratos is within our capital resource comfort level. We intend to partner and team with a large, traditional system integrator when our assessment of PWin is greater or required investment is beyond Kratos comfort level. Kratos primary business areas include virtualized ground systems for satellites and space vehicles including software for command & control (C2) and telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C), jet powered unmanned aerial drone systems, hypersonic vehicles and rocket systems, propulsion systems for drones, missiles, loitering munitions, supersonic systems, space craft and launch systems, C5ISR and microwave electronic products for missile, radar, missile defense, space, satellite, counter UAS, directed energy, communication and other systems, and virtual & augmented reality training systems for the warfighter.

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