By Mr. Chuck D Roberts (White Sands Missile Range)July 23, 2019
A ribbon cutting ceremony on July 9, 2019, highlighted new and upgraded test capabilities at the Survivability, Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate (SVAD) at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
The Survivability, Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate performs nuclear weapon effects testing to evaluate the survivability and vulnerability of military systems when exposed to various capability test environments that simulate the detonation of a nuclear weapon. Other core competencies for SVAD consist of Electromagnetic Effects, Directed Energy (high power microwaves/lasers), and Applied Environment (all natural environments).
The new and upgraded capabilities highlighted at the ribbon cutting ceremony include an upgrade to the Linear Electron Accelerator, and a replacement for the White Sands Solar Furnace.
The Linear Electron Accelerator is designed to simulate the high-intensity gamma spike associated with a nuclear weapon detonation by producing high-intensity, short-duration pulses of high-energy electron radiation for threat-level exposures.
Employees such as Shawn Lynn and others at the Survivability, Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate took it upon themselves to perform upgrades to the Linear Electron Accelerator rather than outsourcing the needed work, thus saving the government almost a million dollars.
The White Sands Solar Furnace produces intense thermal pulses or steady state thermal radiation exposures to simulate the thermal radiation from detonation of a nuclear weapon. At full power, the energy generated by the White Sands Solar Furnace can penetrate a half-inch stainless steel plate in 40 seconds.
The White Sands Solar Furnace is powered by a large collection of solar panels able to harness and transforms the sun's energy into thermal pulses. However, the current White Sands Solar Furnace is dependent upon favorable sun and wind conditions.
Its replacement is a notably smaller version powered by 20 xenon lamps providing approximately eight times the power of its predecessor, along with other advantages that include 24/7 availability and able to be housed in a small prefab building.
Before cutting the ribbon, Col. Richard Haggarty, Project Manager for PM-ITTS (Project Manager Instrumentation Target and Threat Simulators), praised the efforts of everyone involved in the project and noted how their hard work has paid off in improved capabilities for SVAD.
Col. David Cheney, Commander for the White Sands Test Center, stressed that improving SVAD capability is a key role in testing defense systems designed to help keep our Nation safe.
The improvements were implemented through the Nuclear Effects Test Capability Modernization program. The Army has a requirement to provide simulated environments for nuclear weapon effects testing. The nuclear requirement criteria are provided by the U.S. Army Nuclear and Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Agency.
Locally, an Integrated Product Team was formed for the requirements definition, design reviews, integration, installation and acceptance testing of the upgrade. The team consisted of representatives from Project Manager Instrumentation Targets and Threat Simulators, Survivability, Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate, and contractors.