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Emerald Flag returns highlighting new technology

Emerald Flag

Maj. Jacob Rohrbach, 40th Flight Test Squadron, reviews the aircraft prior to an Emerald Flag mission March 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag is a collaborative multi-service effort focused on increasing the effectiveness of the joint domain warfighter. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

The 2020 Spark Tank award-winning Low Cost Threat Emitter operates during Emerald Flag March 24 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

Lt. Col. Andrew Reisenweber, Air Combat Command, toured the XCub aircraft at the Destin Executive Airport March 26 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag is a collaborative multi-service effort focused on increasing the effectiveness of the joint domain warfighter. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

Col. Timothy Beers, 96th Test Wing vice commander, greets maintainers in preparation for an Emerald Flag mission March 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag is a collaborative multi-service effort focused on increasing the effectiveness of the joint domain warfighter. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

Lt. Col. Andrew Reisenweber, Air Combat Command, toured the digital cockpit in the XCub aircraft at the Destin Executive Airport March 26 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag is a collaborative multi-service effort focused on increasing the effectiveness of the joint domain warfighter. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

Maj. Jacob Rohrbach, 40th Flight Test Squadron, dons his helmet prior to an Emerald Flag mission March 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag is a collaborative multi-service effort focused on increasing the effectiveness of the joint domain warfighter. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

A 96th Test Wing maintainer prepares an aircraft for Emerald Flag March 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. More than 20 agencies participated in the exercise. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation.(U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

Capt. David Coyle, Air Combat Command, and 1st Lt. Adam Treece, 56th Operations Support Squadron, operate the 2020 Spark Tank award-winning Low Cost Threat Emitter during Emerald Flag March 24 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag

A 96th Test Wing F-15E Strike Eagle takes off to participate in Emerald Flag March 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. More than 20 agencies participated in the exercise. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation.

Emerald Flag
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Maj. Jacob Rohrbach, 40th Flight Test Squadron, reviews the aircraft prior to an Emerald Flag mission March 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag is a collaborative multi-service effort focused on increasing the effectiveness of the joint domain warfighter. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag
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96th Test Wing aircraft taxi during Emerald Flag March 24 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. More than 20 agencies participated in the exercise. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation.

Emerald Flag
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Capt. David Coyle, Air Combat Command, and 1st Lt. Adam Treece, 56th Operations Support Squadron, operate the 2020 Spark Tank award-winning Low Cost Threat Emitter during Emerald Flag March 24 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag
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A 96th Test Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off to participate in Emerald Flag March 25 at Eglin Air Force Base Fla. More than 20 agencies participated in the exercise. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation.

Emerald Flag
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An Airman adjusts the 2020 Spark Tank award-winning Low Cost Threat Emitter operates during Emerald Flag March 24 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

Emerald Flag
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96th Test Wing maintainers walk by an F-15E Strike Eagle prior to an Emerald Flag mission March 24 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. More than 20 agencies participated in the exercise. Emerald Flag combined ground, space, cyber, and air platforms for joint test and experimentation. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Emerald Flag 21-1, Eglin’s second native multi-domain test exercise, began March 22-26 on the Eglin test and training range. 

Emerald Flag focuses on providing a playground for testing, offering an avenue for new complex weapons systems to be advanced. This effort directed the intersection of fielded technologies with advanced long-range kill chain-enabling programs. The quarterly event involved the participation of more than 20 agencies.

Multiple players from across the DoD and industry were involved in exploring new warfighting concepts and technologies, according to Lt. Col. Michael Culhane, the Emerald Flag director. 

“The last several days were a remarkable opportunity to expose many of our cutting-edge developmental and operational test programs to a complex, large force exercise environment,” said Col. Timothy Beers, 96th Test Wing vice commander. 

The event serves as a focal point to bring quality and relevant experimental technology to Emerald Flag and integrate them into multi-domain operation scenarios. The collaborative effort focused on creating a real-time dynamic training scenario while increasing the test effectiveness of Joint All-Domain Command and Control. 

One success story was pairing Team Eglin’s premier air platforms with a 2020 Spark Tank winner, the Low-Cost Threat Emitter. The device dynamically replicates a variety of advanced adversary surface-to-air missile systems. Aircraft detected the LCTE’s radar emissions and then located the simulated threat.

“We saw a gap in training capabilities, we wanted to increase the quality and quantity of the emitters by utilizing commercial equipment in order to increase the survivability of our pilots,” said 1st Lt. Adam Treece, 56th Operations Support Squadron.

Threat resources are limited in number and lack accuracy, that's where the LCTE stepped in allowing pilots to execute primary training against near-peer adversaries in conventional warfare. 

“What a great venue we have here at Emerald Flag that allows us to build relationships within the test community, test our prototype, and get feedback on performance,” said Capt. David Coyle, Air Combat Command. “The event allows us to work with new aircraft, modify our equipment, and iteratively improve on the design.”

One of the unique capabilities of the LCTE is it can be rapidly reprogrammed with new, advanced threats, and be relocated in a matter of minutes. This brings a new element to training. The variation provides an improvement in future test and training scenarios aiming to increase the relevance of training scenarios.

Another test included the Air Force Research Laboratory's XCub. The lightweight aircraft can take off and land in various types of terrain, not needing a conventional runway. The aircraft was originally created in the 1930’s, but now has a modern glass cockpit, GPS system, and thermal camera. The aircraft was involved in the exercise as a test aircraft for featherweight airlift missions and evading radar detection. 

“The XCub flies low and slow at varying speeds and we wanted to see what detection capabilities our airborne fighter aircraft radars have,” said Maj. Ryan Stec, Emerald Flag operations director. 

Even base leadership wanted to check out the unique capabilities on display during the exercise.

“It was invaluable to have a role in Emerald Flag and gain first-hand familiarity with our objectives and the outcomes,” said Beers. “It’s always rewarding to witness Airmen succeed in the most demanding multi-domain scenarios we can present." 

Eglin’s participating agencies brought diverse skill sets integrating research, development, and operational tests. The expansion of testing continues to drive the execution of operationally relevant weapons system testing forward. 

The next iteration of Emerald Flag, planned for June 2021, anticipates testing of unmanned aerial vehicles, and the demonstration of the Low Altitude Sensing Helmet system, known as LASH for the XCub.