Orange Flag Evaluates Teamwork, Interoperability Across Services

Edwards Air Force Base // November 28, 2017

It takes a team to get things done. Last month, team Edwards, along with Navy and Marine teammates, came together for a coordinated, multi-service flight test event known as Orange Flag.

Twenty-eight aircraft gathered in the skies above the Mojave Desert during the three-hour test event named after the symbolic color of flight test—orange.

Photo Credit: Darin Russel/Lockheed Martin

The test aircraft, outfitted with data-gathering gear, launched from Edwards Air Force Base, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Naval Air Station Point Mugu, and Nellis AFB, Nevada.

According to Lt. Col. Richard Turner, F-35 pilot and 412 Operations Group deputy commander, Orange Flag tests the interoperability of the services’ fighters, bombers, and Command-and-Control aircraft. Cooperation between Developmental Test and Operational Test, or combined DT-OT, have proven successful in the past for both the Air Force and Navy but were primarily focused on testing a single aircraft type such as the F-18 or F-22.

Orange Flag represents a collaborative effort not only between DT and OT, but across the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.

“The ‘developmental’ objectives were developed by the 412th Test Wing here, the 96th Test Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida, and the Navy’s VX-31 Test Squadron at NAWS China Lake. The ‘operational’ objectives came from the 53rd Test Wing at Nellis, and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Operational Test Team at Edwards,” said Turner.

Personnel tested eight different types of aircraft: F-35As and F-35Bs (Air Force and Marine variants), F-18E Super Hornets, F-18G Growlers, E-2C Hawkeyes, F-22 Raptors, F-15C Eagles, F-15E Strike Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons. Additionally, a ground station participated in support of B-1 developmental testing.

Merging all of these objectives took the efforts of test pilots, engineers, and airspace operators. Turner led the innovative approach to testing the highly complex system(s).

To read the full article, visit the Edwards Air Force Base website.