EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. —
Orange Flag, Air Force Test Center’s all-domain, major force-testing series focused on cutting-edge technology, kill-web integration and analysis, returned for its second iteration this year at Edwards Air Force Base, In California, June 23. Forty-one flight participants used the R-2508 range and sea trial range to simultaneously execute participant objectives, comprising 23 separate test events.
AFTC’s multi-domain testing force leads efforts to resource, organize and align the Test indicator businessto include Orange Flag, Emerald Flag, and Black Flag.
“This was perhaps the most complex Orange Flag ever, as we executed in two separate ranges comprising approximately 30,000 square nautical miles of airspace. The team did an outstanding job despite an experimental design complex, extremely limited resources and no formal institutional staff,” said Major Daniel Harp, director of Orange Flag.
The US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Space Force and several civilian research and development agencies participated. Every USAF fighter mission design series also participated, to include all three F-35 variants.
“The importance of Orange Flag goes well beyond meeting the requirements of a single platform,” said Major Joshua Rountree, Orange Flag Mission Commander and Director of Operations, Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force. . “During this event, we were able to provide mature platform environments in which to experiment, provide emerging technologies with the ability to test with joint and multi-domain capabilities in the field to which they normally have limited access, as well as than meeting traditional programmatic testing requirements, all in a single day.
Sixteen airborne fighters and one testbed acted as fifth-generation sensors or targets to characterize the performance of the DoD’s state-of-the-art infrared kill chain and to continue development work in the infrared spectrum for offensive and defensive capabilities.
“Orange Flag also continues to focus on maturing autonomy and machine learning,” said F-35 test pilot Harp. “Machine learning has advanced to the point where we can train algorithms to perform very specific tasks that humans might be particularly bad at. By facilitating human decisions, these types of artificial narrow intelligence may be able to shorten the chain of destruction or speed up decision-making.
The test event supported data collection for a Small Business Innovation Research contract to develop a natural language processing and automatic speech recognition model for tactical aeronautical communication.
“Developing this kind of narrow AI will facilitate future manned-unmanned team efforts within the DoD,” Harp said.
The 22-2 Orange Flag Team Leaders included Major Joshua Rountree, Orange Flag Mission Commander, Major Kyle McLeod, Deputy Mission Commander, Captain Joshua Rivey, Test Leader and Major Brian Dienst, Advisor main technique.
Orange Flag 22-3 is scheduled to take place in October 2022 and will focus on killing websites common to all domains.
For more information on Orange Flag, visit https://www.aftc.af.mil/Test-Flag-Enterprise/Orange-Flag/