Could chimpanzees be trained to fly fighter jets?

I saw a film years ago about a research facility that was training chimpanzees to fly aircraft.

Considering NASA sent a Chimpanzee into space, it doesn’t seem beyond the capability of a chimpanzee to fly an aircraft, and successfully engage enemy aircraft and shoot them down (well, maybe that’s stretching it, let’s pretend the bogies are also being piloted by chimpanzees for fairness).

The NASA chimps didn’t actually operate the spacecraft though, did they?

I’d have thought motivation and attention span would be the key flaws in this idea; seems like you can train a chimp to do quite impressive tasks, but not exactly right on demand - there always seems to be a fair bit of gazing about, putting various things in the mouth and general laid-back-ness. Probably not all that helpful in piloting a supersonic aircraft.

That said, an aircraft could probably quite easily be developed to be largely autonomous, requiring the chimp only to occupy a seat and perhaps press the odd button when required (and indicated by the computer). Whether this would qualift as piloting is debatable.

The temptation to make the obvious joke is overwhelming. But I would say a solid NO. Even a chimp that has learned sign language would have at best the communication skills of a three year old human. There are so many controls in a plane and learning to fly requires humans to study and train before they even climb in the cockpit, I don’t see how you could get the chimp to process all that information and satisfy you that he knows it.

Was that the Matthew Broderick film Project X?

Chimps were used in early spaceflight tests because they would respond to rudimentary commands, i.e. flipping switches, in order to avoid electic shocks. This provided the canary in the coalmine that we needed to determine if spaceflight would affect a pilot’s ability work in space or at least that the part of the brain that allows him to flip switches.

We already planes that can fly themselves better than non-human primates probably ever could. …that is unless we went to the horrible planet of the apes. Wait, that was Earth! You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!

Modern combat aircraft are amoung the most complex machines on the planet. Pilots that fly them are amoung the best in the world and train very hard for the positions. Its kind of an insult to them to wonder if a chimp could do their highly specialized and intense job.

The problem is they don’t use the missiles, they just pull up next to the enemy and chuck a handful of shit at 'em.

It was too much for me.

Hey, a handful of shit flying into a jet intake can have catastrophic results for an enemy fighter jets! :smiley:

No. I suppose they could be trained to fly a flying bomb into a target. Besides the humanity issues here, we now have technology that would do it better, as Padeye mentioned… In other words- pretty much we have got computers “smarter” than chimps- at least as far as what task we would want a chimp to do.
Slightly off topic- “Project X”- worst major release film EVER. Makes Waterworld look like :mad:

(cut off) "Makes Waterworld look like a 10X oscar winner. :mad:

That’s why you need to thaw it first.


Would that obvious joke be, “But you can dress him in a flight suit and pose him on an aircraft carrier for a photo op”?


Air Force Guy: The Harrier Jet is one of our more dollar-intensive ordnance delivery vectors. And although it looks complicated, it is so well-designed, even a child could fly it.

Lisa: Can I fly it?

Air Force Guy: Of course you can not.


Well you aren’t supposed to make political jokes in GQ so I really can’t say.

Ah, OK. My apologies as it seems I’ve posted something inappropriate.

Could chimpanzees be trained to fly fighter jets?

Yes. Just not very well.

Could chimpanzees be trained to fly fighter jets?


Could chimpanzees be trained to land fighter jets?

Prolly not.

Let’s say that the chimp is in the pilot seat and autopilot takes him up to cruising altitude. Autopilot comes off. My bet is even the best trained chimp is going to be a little heavy handed on the controls and soon have the plane on the ground in lots of little pieces. Being able to correlate fine hand motions with numeric and analog displays and knowing which way to adjust is going to be way beyond the ability of any chimp.l

So could you train a chimp to fly a hangglider?

If an infinite number of chimps flew an infinite number of jet fighters for an infinite period of time…