EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, California —
Orange Flag, the Air Force Test Center’s all-domain test suite focused on advanced technology, kill-web integration and analysis, returned this year for its second iteration at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., May 23. June back. Forty-one airborne participants used the R-2508 Range and Sea Test Range to complete simultaneous participant objectives spanning 23 separate test events.
AFTC’s Multi-Domain Test Force is leading efforts to resource, organize and align the Test Flag Enterprise to include Orange Flag, Emerald Flag and Black Flag.
“It was perhaps the most complex orange flag ever because we performed in two separate areas that span around 30,000 square miles of airspace. The team did an excellent job despite having a complex experimental design, extremely limited resources and no formal institutional staffing,” said Maj. Daniel Harp, Director of Orange Flag.
The US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps, United States Space Force and several civilian research and development agencies participated. All of the USAF’s combat mission design series also participated, including all three variants of the F-35.
“Orange Flag’s importance extends far beyond meeting individual platform requirements,” said Maj. 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 to experiment with, give burgeoning technologies the opportunity to field test common and cross-domain capabilities to which they typically have limited access, and address traditional programmatic testing requirements.
Sixteen airborne fighters and a test bed acted as either sensors or fifth-generation targets to characterize the performance of the Department of Defense’s state-of-the-art infrared kill chain and to continue development work in the infrared spectrum for both offensive and defensive capabilities.
“Orange Flag remains focused on developing autonomy and machine learning,” said Harp, an F-35 test pilot. “Machine learning has advanced enough that we can train algorithms to perform very specific tasks that humans might be particularly bad at. By facilitating human decision-making, these types of narrow artificial intelligence can potentially shorten the death chain or speed up decision-making.”
The test event supported data collection for a small business innovation research contract aimed at developing a natural language processing model and automatic speech recognition for tactical aeronautical communications.
“Developing this type of tight AI will facilitate future manned and unmanned teaming efforts at the Department of Defense,” Harp said.
Orange Flag 22-2 team leaders included Maj. Joshua Rountree, Orange Flag Mission Commander, Maj. Kyle McLeod, Assistant Mission Commander, Capt. Joshua Rivey, Test Manager, and Maj. Brian Dienst, Senior Technical Advisor.
Orange Flag 22-3 is scheduled for release in October 2022 and will focus on common kill webs for all domains.
For more information on Orange Flag, visit https://www.aftc.af.mil/Test-Flag-Enterprise/Orange-Flag/