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Testing ... warfighting systems.

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AS the Army combats terrorism, its top priority is to give Soldiers the weapons and equipment they need to defeat their enemies and avoid death and serious injury from such threats as improvised explosive devices.

The U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command and its subcommands are testing and evaluating urgently needed warfighting systems so Soldiers can effectively conduct their missions with the least possible threat to their lives.

Many of these systems are relatively new or have recently been upgraded, so the ATEC is relying on its Developmental Test Command to provide system data and reports based on high-priority test programs. Besides the test program Stateside, the DTC and its test centers have sent employees and Soldiers to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Testers in theater support ATEC's forward-operational assessments of weapon systems. At the DTC test centers throughout the United States, the pace of testing has been accelerated to meet the needs of an Army at war.

The DTC's test program for Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles has been getting a lot of attention from senior Army and Marine Corps leaders. At Aberdeen Test Center, Md., and Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., officials have conducted a series of tests to help program managers gage the MRAP's performance and ballistic protection.

When Army and Marine Corps program managers identified requirements for MRAP testing in 2008, ATC commander Col. John Rooney directed some 240 of his employees to work on the MRAP test program. They worked well beyond normal duty hours to get the job done, an effort that is helping save lives on the battlefield, Rooney said.

Operational-assessment teams in theater have provided essential feedback for testers, said Scott Dellicker, chief of the National Counterterrorism/Counterinsurgency Integrated Test and Evaluation Center at Yuma Proving Ground. The center has been testing a variety of counter-IED systems to help the Army and Defense Department field those that are most effective.

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Testing has focused on system performance, interoperability and friendly-force communications, Dellicker said.

"The proving ground has rugged desert terrain and specially constructed facilities that replicate key urban areas overseas," said Chuck Wullenjohn, a YPG spokesman. "The resulting test data provide a better prediction of counter-IED system performance."

The Army has relied on the DTC's Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., to test military systems that provide command and control, communications, computer capabilities, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

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Much of its testing is directed toward various counter-IED systems at the EPG and the ATEC's Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Test Directorate, also at Fort Huachuca. They have been working with the NACCITEC to determine which systems are most effective, said Ed Watt, chief of the EPG's Counterterrorism Division.

"Testing at Fort Huachuca and elsewhere has ensured that design changes, protocol modification and overall system improvements have not degraded system performance," Watt said.

Command-and-control messaging and situational awareness among friendly forces are crucial if units are to conduct joint operations, minimize the impact of electromagnetic compatibility issues and avoid "fratricide," he added.

Testers at the DTC's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico have subjected one such system to electromagnetic environments testing, to determine the hazards of electromagnetic radiation to personnel and their susceptibility to external radio frequencies, WSMR officials said.

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The system is designed to clear land mines in various types of terrain. It is intended for clearing areas where suspected pressure-detonated mines and explosive devices are present, officials said.

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The DTC's Red-stone Technical Test Center in Alabama has supported the war effort by testing various missiles for the Army and Air Force. Because of this extensive testing, the Army has made modifications so Soldiers can launch missiles from both the Predator and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

In February 2007 DTC personnel at Redstone deployed to Kuwait to test missiles in theater. Using their test sets and mobile surveillance vans, the Redstone testers were able to collect information to help the Army determine the effects of storing these weapons in the Middle East. The data collected are enabling the Army to determine the full shelf life of the missile systems.

Other areas of research focus on helping Soldiers find and neutralize adversaries who may be hidden among the civilian population; detect such hazards as chemical and biological agents; and protect aircraft crews from missiles.

Additionally, during fiscal year 2007, testers at the Redstone test center conducted safety and performance tests of systems designed to enhance perimeter force protection, officials said.

One such electro-optical/infrared imaging system enables its operators to slew the device's view to the position indicated by data received from radar. The operators can then manually fine tune the view, designate a target using an onboard laser range finder and collect a variety of geolocation data.

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A system designed to protect Army aircraft from enemy missiles depends on the accuracy of its sensors and the rapid deployment of countermeasures. ATTC experimental test pilots have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and flown combat missions to assess the system, as well as one that is used for designating targets and providing night vision. ATTC modified its test infrastructure to test the systems more effectively, producing data from both the United States and the combat theater, so the Army could better evaluate system performance.

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And to help the Army counter threats that are less lethal than roadside bombs, mines or missiles, Aberdeen Test Center has tested a system that includes loudspeakers and illuminating devices.

Stryker units in the combat theater have helped the Army test and evaluate this system, and Soldiers who have received in-depth training on it are taking part in a follow-up evaluation in theater.

The Army relies on the DTC to test airdrop-delivery technologies at YPG, including the family of airdrop systems fielded on a limited basis. They are designed to provide accurate aerial delivery of high-value cargo to troops from high altitudes, reducing risk to delivery aircraft.

The test center at Yuma also has tested low-altitude delivery systems using five parachute configurations. This system is designed to provide highly accurate delivery of critical supplies--such as small-arms ammunition and subsistence items--to troops in regions far from the supply lines. The system's use is intended to significantly reduce the number of wheeled supply convoys on roads in theater and ultimately reduce Soldiers' exposure to deadly roadside bombs, officials said.

Mike Cast works at the Developmental Test Command Public Affairs Office.
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Title Annotation:ARMY TEST AND EVALUATION COMMAND
Author:Cast, Mike
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2008
Words:1069
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