Ensuring Weapon Systems and Munitions Function Properly in Extreme Natural Environments

Monday December 15, 2008

What is it?

Weapon systems and munitions must function worldwide. The most extreme conditions are found in the world's deserts, cold regions and tropics. Testing for these extremes falls under the management authority of U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, an Army Test and Evaluation Command installation.

These test centers are: Yuma Test Center at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ; the Cold Regions Test Center at Fort Greely, Alaska; and the Tropic Regions Test Center that operates at a number of tropic locations - Hawaii, Panama, Honduras, and Suriname.

Why is this important?

The history of armed conflict is littered with the debris of military equipment that worked fine in fair weather, but failed when the going got rough.

Extreme environmental conditions have been artificially created in environmental chambers for years. These chambers, however, do not duplicate the synergistic effects of temperature, wind, snow, solar radiation, insects, fungus, and more, in a large enough arena to truly represent the challenge of extreme environments in their totality. Realistic testing is essential because these effects can quickly degrade the performance of man, machines and materials.

What has the Army done?

Since World War II, the three Yuma Proving Ground test centers have performed work critical to ensuring the success of equipment and munitions. Through periods of contraction and expansion, natural environment testing has saved lives and ensured success. Today, nearly every item of ground combat equipment goes through testing at the proving ground.

How is the Army implementing this initiative?

Much of the nation's environmental test expertise resides at Yuma Proving Ground and its test centers. Yuma Proving Ground is recognized as the Army's natural environment test expert. The three test center's mutually support each other to maximize the use of personnel, technology and expensive equipment, as well as share critical expertise. This saves dollars and ensures efficiency.

Test center personnel function as part of the Army Test and Evaluation Command's Forward Operating Assessment (FOA) teams in Iraq and Afghanistan to assure test techniques maintain the standards required in the field. Major test areas include: artillery and mortars, tracked armored vehicles, automotive equipment, cargo and personnel air delivery systems, unmanned aerial systems, aircraft armament and target identification systems, countermeasures used to defeat roadside bombs and more.


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