Eglin Air Force Base key to Emerald Flag success

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez
Emerald Flag, Eglin Air Force Base’s first native multi-domain test exercise, concluded after five days of testing at the Eglin AFB Test and Training Range Dec. 5. 

The inaugural event aimed to experiment with combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control technologies. The effort offered a realistic combat training environment, networking aircraft, sensors and computer systems on air, space, and cyberspace platforms. The goal was to collect and distribute tactical data using multiple pathways to collaborate at rapid speeds.

“Technology is advancing faster than ever before and Emerald Flag is at the cutting edge of connecting land, sea, air, space and cyber assets across all domains simultaneously,” said Lt. Col. Michael Fritts, Emerald Flag director.  

The exercise focused on data driven analysis. The information was collected, analyzed and distributed amongst various Eglin AFB units to assist in war time decision-making at various locations.

“We brought together fighter, command and control, and electronic warfare aircraft with advanced weapons, and integrated them into a strike package with cyber and land assets that used innovative experimental technology in a challenging environment,” said Col. Doug Creviston, 96th Operations Group commander.

Emerald Flag was the first time classified information was collected and delivered to a cloud environment where it was accessed by a large range of stakeholders, according to Creviston.

“This will optimize post-processing of data, knowledge management, and better inform future test flag events,” Fritts said.

Upon detection of potential threats such as simulated foreign targets including Russian T-72 battle tanks and surface-to-air missiles, new software systems, sensors, and communications equipment, were used in collecting and consolidating data. The information was then relayed in real time through the open-air environment through data links. Ultimately, the information chain from detection to engagement of targets was tested in multiple resilient pathways, Creviston said.

“Many of our efforts are ‘home-grown,’ envisioned in the minds of Air Force Test Center’s warfighters leveraging real-world combat experience and a high degree of technical savvy,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, AFTC commander.

Eglin’s five W’s: weapons, water, webs, widgets, and warfighters, were used to harmonize local assets. 

- The 96th Test Wing used their weapons test knowledge to support the tactical mission.

- The Eglin Test and Training range provided the venue for technological experimentation.

- Agencies participating utilized this event from the 96th Cyber Test Group to mature their adaptive software used to integrate information.

- The widgets were utilized with the warfighter early in the development cycle. This capability was used for the first time and came from the Air Force Research Lab.

-The 53rd Wing’s operational test capabilities were used to quickly evaluate newly developed technology in the air and through ground-based command and control units. In addition, 33rd Fighter Wing warfighters flew F-35 Lightning’s to allow experimentation with fielded fifth-generation capabilities. 

“By lending an operational perspective on large force warfighter integration for Emerald Flag, we were able to ensure the needs of the warfighter were represented throughout this multi-domain test event,” said Lt. Col. Mike Benitez, 53rd Wing director of staff.

A success of the exercise was the relationships built from the units integrating the emerging capabilities in a developmental and operational test community. The test was a key component in accelerating the rate in which the data link JADC2 capabilities can access multi-domain capabilities in the future, Fritts said.

“It’s always exciting working bringing all of Team Eglin’s capabilities together along with other units from across the nation,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, 96th TW commander. “I’m most impressed with the effort to accomplish such a complicated task in such a challenging time this year. It is an impressive feat that we’re able to continue the level of innovation accomplished at Team Eglin.”