The Pentagon’s new artificial intelligence center has delivered its first product, a predictive maintenance tool for UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, the department’s chief information officer (CIO) said Tuesday.

DoD CIO Dana Deasy told attendees at a General Dynamics

[GD] Information Technology (GDIT) event the AI-powered tool for Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Black Hawks is one of two ongoing Joint Artificial Intelligence Center projects, with the goal of implementing the algorithm across the services and developing a new cyber sensing tool through fiscal year 2020.

Dana Deasy Department of Defense, Chief Information Officer, poses for his official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, May 07, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by William Pratt)

“With the scale of the Department of Defense, you’re never going to be able to handle the full sweep of every conceived AI idea across the services. But what we can do is start to look at those activities that cut across all the services where they have a common problem to solve for. We are referring to those in our AI strategy as National Mission Initiatives,” Deasy said.

JAIC, which was established last year, is currently focused on two National Mission Initiatives (NMI), the maintenance tool for H-60 Black Hawks and ongoing work to develop capabilities for humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

Deasy said the 1.0 version of the AI-powered predictive maintenance capability for Black Hawks was delivered to SOCOM three weeks ago, with plans to field three subsequent versions across the services over the next year.

“We kept whittling this down until we settled on a prominent asset that we thought would be a good first use case for AI. And that led us to the H-60, the Black Hawk helicopter,” Deasy said.

NMI’s will be focused on specific use cases to operational deliverables rather than focusing on broader issues, according to Deasy.

“The real heart and soul of the JAIC is the ability to create a form of re-use. If you think about that process you go through of selecting data, conditioning data, to training and testing, there are tools that we will develop for different solutions. It’s making those tools available in some form of a library for each of the services to use and not have to reinvent the wheel from scratch. That’s what we’re looking to do,” Deasy said.

Deasy said the tool will specifically address system fatigue to Black Hawk engines and assist with users with pinpointing opportunities for required maintenance.

For the second NMI focused on disaster assistance relief, JAIC has partnered with industry, academia and relevant federal agencies to deploy tools required to assist with establishing firelines during wildfire events and better manage flooding following hurricanes.

“This allowed us to provide a laboratory for employing AI in a chaotic environment,” Deasy said.

JAIC officials are currently working through a new initiative with U.S. Cyber Command and DISA to develop an AI-powered cyber sensing tool to identify anomalous activity on networks.

Deasy said JAIC is currently working to identify a specific problem set to focus the initiative around, similar to the process that was done with centering the Black Hawk effort around predictive maintenance for engines.  

The cyber sensing tool is expected to be delivered as an operational tool for cyber units beginning in FY ’20, according to Deasy.