Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Mission Planning

TANG – US Navy - NavAir

An Integrated Approach for Risk Analysis


The Aviation Mission Support (AMS) program goal was to explore the future of Naval Aviation Mission Support Systems and electronic knee board. The Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) research focused on mission support process as part of a larger ecosystem to include joint mission planning and execution, strategy and combined arms.

Design Thinking and Beyond

The team used a Design Thinking approach for this program combined with analogous research in addition to domain expertise. Key to the process was to focus on human factors, business, policy and emerging technology as sources of inspiration for design and solution implementation while delivering a true appreciation for the stakeholder. A workshop followed the research phase to discuss findings and engage in a brainstorming session.

By breaking the mental models of existing tools that create a drag for mission support, the workshop generated a dozen concepts to visualize and prototype. Driven by some findings in the analogous research, participants in the moderated workshop developed a concept to use Artificial Intelligence to enhance the pilots’ ability to plan, they name it Pre-Flight, Unified Naval Combat Habitat (PUNCH)

From Rapid Prototyping to High Fidelity Models

Foundational to the workshop was the concept to develop flexible planning platforms adaptable to new threats, missions and new capabilities while enabling team-based collaborative planning. Participants explored how to make planning systems more intuitive and how to develop systems more dynamic for unplanned situations in the air. PUNCH was conceptualized with this framework. TheInc produced the first prototype in 63 days, it included an AI infused route planning and options for the pilots. The first review delivered a breakthrough moment, when users discussed how weather and environmental factors affect mission planning for both the Navy and the ‘un-friendlies.” The second iteration prototype incorporated real time weather forecasting and doppler visualization. A series of algorithms calculate effects on munitions and overall mission risk while allowing the user to manipulate waypoints and plan considering sun and moon effects visibility.

Currently, PUNCH is a high fidelity interactive prototype that leverages Artificial Intelligence and interactive route optimization to better assist in mission planning, risk assessment and decision making. PUNCH combines a true 3D GIS layer and real time whether from NOAA to assess the mission planning weather conditions, evaluate the best conditions to deploy (forecasting) as well as the effects of diverse weather conditions on munitions, cameras and radars. PUNCH also allows planning for potential enemy radar allocations allowing for dynamic wargaming strategy and scenario planning.