Future looks bright for Redstone Test Center

Ashley Crick

 

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The Redstone Test Center celebrated a successful 2012 with new capabilities, facilities, and a committed work force.

In 2012, the center improved its test capabilities by adding more than $13 million in new and modified facilities. These include a new Climatic Multi-Chamber Test Facility, an aviation parts storage facility, an aircraft parking area, a reconstruction of the Tactical Test Facility, entry control point facility, a transient test facility and an aircraft towpath just to name a few.

Additionally, the center worked with the Garrison Department of Public Works by inspecting more than 300 RTC-managed facilities and participated in two Garrison Area Development Plans and three Military Construction Projects. The center also worked with the Naval Construction Battalion Two-Four to provide valuable training opportunities on more than a dozen projects which in return provided $150,000 of services to sustain RTC facilities.

The five subordinate directorates of RTC continued to provide outstanding support to the war fighter in 2012.

The Aviation Flight Test Directorate continued to ensure safety and reliability for the Army’s aircraft inventory. AFTD provided more than 350,000 maintenance man-hours in support of approximately 2,000 test events that included in excess of 5,500 aircraft flight hours with 200 highly trained and experienced personnel.

The Flight Test Control Center, which supports the tracking of two separate and simultaneous flight tests, was completed in April 2012 and represents the final major project to be completed as part of the BRAC relocation from Fort Rucker. AFTD also designed and developed a highly automated and mobile Field Equivalent Bar Target and successfully tested the most recent version of the Common Missile Warning System aircraft survivability equipment.

The Systems Engineering Directorate continued to establishing their role as “force multipliers” for the RTC test mission. A number of highly qualified systems engineers provided horizontal coordination and integration for more than 473 test projects including leading Integrated Project Teams for critical programs such as Aviation Survivability Equipment and Force Protection Systems. SED also provided program support and technical expertise for more than 50 test customers.

The Environmental & Component Test Directorate, responsible for developing and conducting environmental testing on weapon systems, completed two new facilities — the Tactical Test Facility and the new Multi-Chamber Facility. ECTD supported multiple tests which included the Orbus 1A motor qualification test, Shadow Unmanned Aerial System E3 Qualification Test and participated in the Coalition Attack Guidance Experiment II Coalition-Level Test Experiment.

The Missiles & Sensors Test Directorate continued to be the source of the many “booms” on Redstone Arsenal. The Propulsion Test Division coordinated with the Air Force Research Lab to conduct static firing tests of four ATACMS rocket motors. This test required coordination between several teams, including the RTC Propulsion Division static firing crew, RTC Missions Operations and Control Center, the AFRL sensor engineers, the AFRL satellite engineers, and AFRL headquarters. According to AFRL, this test series was “a rare confluence of events (i.e. weather, rocket, satellite) unique observations that have never been done before in military history, and potentially ground breaking for national defense and missile warning.”

Although the center’s mission is testing, 2012 was a great year for community support and employee wellness. In August, employees across the center enjoyed RTC’s third annual Safety & Wellness Day. Employees participated in a wide range of sports activities while visiting exhibitor booths emphasizing healthy eating, exercise and safety. As the holidays approached, staff members showed support for RTC’s first Alabama/Auburn Can-a-thon by donating about 1,524 pounds of canned goods to the Food Bank of North Alabama and pet food and supplies to the Ark Inc. The center also supported the Salvation Army Angel Tree by selling T-shirts with proceeds going to support a local child.

Even in this tough economic climate, the future continues to look bright for Redstone Test Center but changes are imminent. The center, along with the Army Test and Evaluation Command, will both undergo changes in leadership in the coming year. Col. Steve Kihara, the first commander of Redstone Test Center, will retire after 29 years of service, His successor will undoubtedly take this world-class test center to the next level.

The Redstone Test Center is a subordinate unit of the Test and Evaluation Command headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. RTC is the premier Army agency for testing military aircraft throughout the acquisition, modernization and sustainment life cycle in support of America’s war fighters.