Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Matthew J. Robbins, PhD


Performing within visual range (WVR) air combat involves the execution of complex air maneuvers and rapid sequential decision making. The complexity of these decisions can increase even further when including additional weapon capabilities. The advancement of unmanned autonomous vehicle technology and weapon capabilities can help combat the hindrance that comes with human limitations. Autonomous unmanned combat aerial vehicles (AUCAVs) and the implementation of advanced weapon capabilities such as Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) can prove to be vital in a WVR air combat context. This derives the question – Can AUCAV’s possess the proper artificial intelligence and weapon capabilities to attain improved high-quality air combat maneuvers and tactics? The results of our computational experiments indicate that the ADP policies outperform all three benchmark policies in 2 of 3 problem instances. The ADP policies learned to utilize both the internally carried gun as well as the DEW, which promotes the idea of situational benefits of either weapon platform in the ACMP.

AFIT Designator



A 12-month embargo was observed.

Approved for public release. Case number on file.