My name is CSM Andy Connette, and I am the CSM for the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. I am grateful for the opportunity that CSM Davenport gave me to share with you just a little about ATEC.
ATEC plans, integrates and conducts experiments, developmental testing, independent operational testing, and independent evaluations and assessments to provide essential information to acquisition decision makers and commanders.
We test everything from mud to space, from rifles to National Missile Defense, and from Nett Warrior to Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV. We have a team of about 8,000 Soldiers, civilians and contractors who conduct testing every day across the country, as well as Europe and Panama.
We take the requirements, often generated by TRADOC, and design tests that will create the conditions to evaluate gear and equipment provided by industry against those requirements, providing constant feedback to project managers through developmental testing.
When the system is ready for operational testing, we provide unbiased test results to the Army’s acquisition decision makers. You may have heard recently about Oshkosh being awarded the contract for the future JLTV. ATEC conducted testing that allowed decision makers to select that vendor. Now that single vendor will go through extensive testing through all kinds of environments and conditions. It will get rode hard, shot at, blown up, broken, and repaired before it gets in the hands of a test unit and before a full-rate production decision gets made.
No matter what we are testing, we are working to answer three questions: Is it effective – does it do what is needed? Is it suitable – can Soldiers operate and train with the system and use it in battle? And is it survivable against known threats, including cyber, that it’s meant to defeat or deter – can it perform against the physical and cyber threats?
We have test centers located at White Sands, New Mexico; Dugway, Utah; Fort Huachuca and Yuma, Arizona; Redstone, Alabama and Aberdeen, Maryland,which includes Fort Greely, Arkansas, and our tropic regions testing in Panama. Our U.S. Army Operational Test Command is located at Fort Hood, Texas, and our U.S. Army Evaluation Center is located at Aberdeen along with the ATEC headquarters. We also conduct testing at unit locations on installations across the globe.
While we do conduct testing on future systems, we are also continuously testing current programs of record; e.g., Abrams, Bradley, Stryker, Patriot, Paladin, etc. So every time there has been a new track pad designed or a software upgrade initiated, that system has been going through testing. I laughingly say there has been an M-1 tank doing laps out at Yuma for the last 40 years. The reality is, that is not far from the truth.
Here are a few systems of interest out of the hundreds currently in some phase of testing:
For the aviators and special operators, we are conducting Silent Knight Radar, or SKR testing near Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the MH47G and M60M Spec Ops helicopters. The SKR is a terrain following/terrain avoiding radar that permits low-level flight in various conditions. We have the bulk of the Army’s experimental test pilots in our formation stationed out of Redstone who conduct all of our aviation testing.
For Stryker fans such as myself, we are testing an engineering change proposal on the double vee hull, or DVH Stryker in a cold environment at our Cold Regions Test Center in Alaska. This test is assessing upgrades to the chassis, mechanical power, electrical power and digital backbone.
For the weapons enthusiast, you would be excited to see the M1020 sniper rifle going through test at U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center. This is a modular sniper rifle that has the look and feel of a BMW with the ability to change calibers.
I don’t think a day goes by that Patriot is not going through tests out at White Sands. These tests range from software upgrades to fire control systems to integration as part of the Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense.
I’ll close with this: We are always seeking Soldier involvement in tests, particularly in developmental testing. The feedback from Soldiers who will handle the system is incredibly important and proven to save tremendous cost and time in the development of systems. This ultimately helps get systems into Soldiers’ hands quicker.
Although operational tests are predictable, developmental tests are not, and therefore, it’s difficult for units to be responsive to requests for Soldier support. So if you see or hear about an opportunity, the Army could certainly benefit from your participation and feedback. I hope to see some of you out there pulling triggers on the next handgun, the Modular Handgun, coming soon to a test range near you.
For more information on ATEC, visit our website at http://www.atec.army.mil.
“Truth in Testing”