US Air Force Taps Howard University for Tactical Autonomy Research

The US Air Force has teamed with Washington DC-based Howard University to conduct tactical autonomy research supporting US military systems.

Under the partnership, the department will grant the institution $12 million annually for five years to fund associated research, faculty, and students.

Work for the program will be carried out in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“Autonomous systems make our military faster, smarter, and more combat-credible,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explained.

“They equip commanders with the best possible information to support life-and-death decisions. And I have no doubt that the advancements that will come out of Howard’s new research center will do even more to protect our most precious asset-our men and women in uniform.” 

‘Excellence in Truth and Service’

According to the air force, Howard will focus on forming and maintaining autonomous capabilities critical to the service and US Department of Defense missions.

Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick, left, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall hold a proclamation announcing the partnership of Howard University as an Air Force university affiliated research center during a ceremony at the university in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Eric Dietrich)
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during the research partnership announcement with Howard University. Photo: Eric Dietrich/USAF

“We are excited to learn from the great minds at Howard University and see what they’ll bring to the Department of the Air Force,” US Air Force Chief Scientist Dr. Victoria Coleman expressed.

“Their motto is ‘Excellence in Truth and Service’ and I know we will see that excellence in their scientific research and development work.”

A Team of Decision-Makers

Throughout the program, the university will lead a consortium of historically black institutions from Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Maryland.

“We need a team of decision-makers, researchers, scientists, engineers, and leaders who are committed to security and liberty and are excited to work on some of the world’s most important problems,” US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall stated.

“If those with the intent to preserve peace don’t solve these technical challenges first, those with malign intent will acquire a significant advantage.”

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