Orange Flag brings combat relevant test data to the warfighter

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Christine Saunders
  • Air Force Test Center Public Affairs

Units from across the country converged here at Edwards AFB, Calif., in September to execute the multi-domain, large force test series exercise known as Orange Flag. The latest feat involved a dramatic change in how test professionals engage with test data. 

Orange Flag is an exercise born from a need to maximize resources across air, land, sea, space and cyber domains to include joint and coalition forces. The exercise aims to bring test as close as possible to the warfighter through combat relevant testing early in the development cycle.

This iteration of the exercise integrated five land units, space and cyber capabilities and more than 40 aircraft. The test activities spanned over 40,000 square miles of California and Nevada test ranges.

"Orange Flag is an opportunity for participants to integrate technology into operationally representative scenarios at any and all technology readiness levels.  Our goal is to disrupt traditional test timelines and expose technologies to difficult situations early and often,” said Maj. Brandon “Siphon” Burfeind, Orange Flag director.

Combatant commands require systems that can operate in dense, complex environments as a part of joint, coalition and multi-domain teams. Occurring three times annually, Orange Flag seeks to place instrumented test aircraft into operationally representative environments to achieve test objectives for COCOMs and participating units.

“Large force, multi-domain test requires new ways to interact with data and report results,” said Christopher Valentino, an Orange Flag engineering lead.  “We are generating interactive, app-based reporting tools as a means of ushering in next gen data engagement.”

This exercise focused on evaluating data driven assessments of interoperability, lethality, and survivability.

“We are excited to bring a new set of capabilities and test objectives to Orange Flag in 2021,” said Maj. Daniel “Beeper” Prudhomme, the Orange Flag Operations director. 

Notable successes in the 2020 test series include the progress made in connecting F-35s directly to Army fires without human-in-the-loop intervention and the way complex kill webs are analyzed.

The next Orange Flag exercise is scheduled for February 2021.