Air Force Expands AI Push for Predictive Maintenance
The U.S. Air Force is expanding its embrace of predictive analytics tools to keep pace with maintenance demands for its huge fleet of fighters, bombers, tankers, transports and helicopters.
There is no shortage of U.S. military aircraft, with estimates ranging as high as 5,400 for the Air Force alone. The problem has been keeping that air armada flying. According to Air Force Times, aircraft readiness as measured as a percentage of planes able to fly has steadily decreased over the past decade.
Hence, the service has been enlisting analytics and AI software companies to help get a handle on maintaining increasingly complex aircraft loaded with electronics gear. Those and other modernization efforts have been spearheaded by the Defense Innovation Unit, the Silicon Valley-based Pentagon unit established in 2015 to accelerate the transfer of commercial technologies to the military services.
The latest example was announced this week by enterprise software vendor C3.ai, which will provide the Air Force’s Rapid Sustainment Office with an analytics suite to be used for predictive maintenance. The latest contract follows a five-year agreement announced in January 2020 to supply the Defense Department with AI-based predictive maintenance software.
“This latest award represents the next stage in scaling C3.ai’s predictive maintenance solution across the defense enterprise,” the AI software vendor said.
C3.ai, based in Redwood City, Calif., claims predictive maintenance tools deployed across the U.S. military services could save as much as $5 billion annually.
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