INDEPENDENCE, Mo.-Like many buildings from the 1940s, the linking room facility at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant required a much-needed facelift. And that's just what it got recently.

The antiquated lighting and flooring were replaced and the area got new paint, a drop ceiling, storage shelving and new benches for bore scopes used to test weapons.

"The whole updating process took about three years of planning and execution and cost $49,000," said Tim Kirkman, NATO proof officer at LCAAP. "But these changes were necessary to allow us to better and more easily complete our mission."

At LCAAP, the linking room, also known as a prep room, is a NATO test center for small caliber ammunition and weapons. The North American Regional Test Center is one of only two such centers in the world. The other is the European Test Center, located in Pendine, Wales.

The NARTC linking room has two major functions.

First, employees prepare ammunition for testing by linking it so it can be tested using automatic weapons. Test firing takes place at different temperatures-ambient, cold, and hot-to simulate actual conditions under which service members use the ammunition.

Second, employees clean and inspect weapons. They use bore scopes, which are small video cameras, inserted in the barrels of guns to inspect them.

The NARTC also supports the U.S. Stockpile Reliability Program. If an ammunition lot is 5 years old or older, samples are selected for testing. Samples are pulled from inventories all over the world, sent here, and tested to make sure the ammo is still viable.

"Some ammo made in the 1940s has been tested here and it is still usable," said Kirkman. "That ammo was unique because it was packed differently in those days. We had to take the cartridges out of gigantic Spam-like cans, then link them and test them."

The NARTC tests a different caliber of ammunition each year.

Part of Joint Munitions Command, Lake City Army Ammunition Plant is the provider of Department of Defense small caliber ammunition and performs reliability testing for all calibers of small arms. LCAAP serves as NATO National and Regional Test Center for ammunition and weapons testing and is the producer of small and medium caliber links.

From its headquarters at the Rock Island Arsenal, JMC operates a nationwide network of conventional ammunition manufacturing plants and storage depots, and provides on-site ammunition experts to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. JMC's customers are U.S. forces of all military services, other U.S. government agencies and allied nations.

Page last updated Wed October 17th, 2012 at 15:45