REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (December 17, 2020) – When 2021 rolls around there will be a new addition to the western skies of Redstone Arsenal. The System-of-Systems Controlled Environment Test Infrastructure, known as SCETI (pronounced “set-ee”), is a one of kind test facility being installed at the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC). The SCETI will be located just east of Gate 7 off Martin Road and will include four 200 ft. towers that will be visible from outside Redstone Arsenal.
RTC partnered with the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) and Geeks and Nerds (GaN) to create this unique test capability for Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) sensor testing. The capability is comparable to a stadium camera system used to provide overhead views of soccer and football games. The infrastructure will consist of four 200 ft. tall towers, winches and cables covering a 1000 ft. x 400 ft. area. Four individual cables run through the tops of the towers and are connected to a center platform, which carries the system under test. An automated control system will command the winches to move the six degree of freedom stabilized platform within a 700 ft. x 280 ft. x 100 ft. (altitude) flight volume according to the desired test profile.
The stabilized platform allows movement of the systems under test through realistic flight profiles for the testing of aircraft DVE sensor systems as well as several other aviation, missile and sensor applications such as hostile fire system testing against small arms and captive carry testing for missile seekers. The test facility can operate in degraded natural environments such as rain and fog, but can also generate degraded visual conditions such as smoke and dust.
“SCETI was developed to address a component level testing shortfall in the Army and Department of Defense (DoD),” said Col. Steven Braddom, commander at RTC. “New systems are being developed as part of Army Modernization to enable the warfighter to fly and fight in degraded visual conditions and these systems must be tested in a realistic environment before fielding.”
Currently, the only way to test these new systems is to conduct costly, higher risk open air flight testing in the actual DVE conditions. Test programs relying solely on aircraft flight in naturally occurring DVE conditions could ultimately lead to verifying system functionality in only a subset of the desired DVE conditions.
“The SCETI multi-functional test capability will immerse the test item in generated and realistic degraded visual conditions. The capability will have the ability to create a limited area of controllable, physically induced degraded conditions as well as utilize natural rain and fog environments. This capability will leverage existing distributed testing techniques to enable pilot-in-the-loop interaction, control of the test item, and produce results that are comparable to open air sensor performance flight test,” explained Trey Mann, RTC’s lead engineer for the SCETI system.
The capability will be reconfigurable to enable testing of multiple aircraft sensors while minimizing cost and risk compared to traditional open air flight testing.
This capability will be available to support Army, other Services, and other DoD Agencies, as well as commercial sensors.