Black Flag is the U.S. Air Force’s newest flag-level exercise. Flag-level exercises bring together airframes and skillsets from around the military, and sometimes from around the world.


Red Flag

Arguably the most well-known U.S. Air Force exercise is Red Flag. This is a two-week aerial combat, Large Force Exercise (LFE) that is based out of Nellis AFB, NV.

Born from lessons learned during Vietnam, Red Flags give pilots from all services the opportunity to hone aerial combat skills against “aggressors” piloting fighters that mimic adversary aircraft. Anywhere from four to six Red Flags take place in Nevada each year. Up to four more exercises, dubbed Red Flag – Alaska, take place in Eielson AFB.

Essentially, Red Flag (as well as Green Flag) tests aircrew capabilities.


The Origins of Black Flag

Many lessons are learned at Red Flag exercises, specifically about real-world combat situations and aircrew members’ reactions.

However, learning how systems will interact is another matter.