The system developed at the University of Cincinnati in the US was assessed by subject-matter expert and retired US Air Force Colonel Gene Lee - who holds extensive aerial combat experience as an instructor and Air Battle Manager with considerable fighter aircraft expertise.

The AI, dubbed ALPHA, is the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI to date, according to Lee. ALPHA is a significant breakthrough in the application of what is called genetic-fuzzy systems, researchers said.

The application is specifically designed for use with Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) in simulated air-combat missions for research purposes.

In its earliest iterations, ALPHA consistently outperformed a baseline computer programme previously used by the Air Force Research Lab for research. In other words, it defeated other AI opponents.

It was only after early iterations of ALPHA bested other computer programme opponents that Lee then took to manual controls against a more mature version of ALPHA in October last year.

Not only was Lee not able to score a kill against ALPHA after repeated attempts, he was shot out of the air every time during protracted engagements in the simulator. Since that first human vs ALPHA encounter in the simulator, this AI has repeatedly bested other experts as well.

"I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment," Lee said.

"It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed," he added.

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