The U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (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.

On November 18, 1998, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army approved consolidation of developmental and operational testing. That decision led to the re-designation on October 1, 1999 of the Operational Test and Evaluation Command (OPTEC) to ATEC. Central to the consolidation was ATEC assuming overall responsibility for all Army developmental and operational testing. Under the consolidation, ATEC became responsible for management of White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

ATEC also took command of Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, Redstone Test Center (RTC) at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC) at Fort Wainwright in Alaska, and the Tropic Regions Test Center (TRTC), headquartered at Yuma Proving Ground with testing in Hawaii and other locations.

ATEC’s 9,000 military, civilian, and contract employees are test officers, engineers, scientists, technicians, researchers, and evaluators involved in more than 1,100 tests daily. ATEC rigorously tests items of every description, from individual weapons to the National Missile Defense ground-based, mid-course defense systems.

Aberdeen Proving Ground

Using a single laser beam, Army researchers at APG developed a technique capable of detecting and characterizing any type of airborne particles including naturally occurring (dust, smoke, pollen, ash) or those harmful and deliberately disseminated such as chemical and biological warfare agents.

If a soldier uses a piece of technology for protection, intelligence, to shoot, to move, or to communicate, chances are it was developed, tested, and fielded by an Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) organization.

APG was established in 1917 as an answer to an immediate need for national defense. As a result of entering World War I in April 1917, the Army urgently required a new site for testing war munitions. The search landed on an area along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay near the city of Aberdeen, MD. When World War I ended in November of that same year, APG’s peacetime mission shifted to emphasize research and development of munitions including testing of powders, projectiles, and bombs and the study of interior and exterior ballistics.

APG facilities conduct research and experimentation in ballistics and fire control as well as automotive and armor testing activities. In addition, APG’s technological contributions include the world’s first digital computer (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator or ENIAC), the first man-portable antitank weapons system (the Bazooka), and the first system-wide practical applications of Statistical Quality Control. APG also contributed to the testing of NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle used in the Apollo missions in the early 70s.

Today, APG is recognized as one of the world’s most important research, development, testing, and evaluation facilities for military weapons and equipment, and supports military and civilian scientists, research engineers, technicians, and administrators. APG continues to provide comprehensive test and training, both real and simulated; provides expert knowledge and technical services including instrumentation application, facility operations, manufacturing, and fabrication; exploits emerging technologies; and develops leading-edge instrumentation and test methodologies.

From the earliest concepts of a requirement, through research and on into development and proofing, APG no longer devotes its attention exclusively to ordnance items but tests and proofs all Army materials.

White Sands Missile Range

White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) has a wide range of testing capabilities to support small and large customer requirements. The Range possesses extensive capabilities utilized by the Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, universities, private industries, and foreign militaries.

Testing services include:

Nuclear/electromagnetic environmental testing. With the capabilities to simulate from a nuclear blast to lighting effects to freezing rain, WSMR has many testing capabilities including electrostatic discharge tests, electromagnetic pulse testing, electromagnetic interference and electromagnetic radiation testing, and lightning testing.

The Army’s M50 gas mask was tested at Dugway Proving Ground to determine its effectiveness against a single decontaminant for chemical and biological agents. The Simulant Agent Resistance Test Manikin (SMARTMAN) test fixture — a replicated human head, complete with breathing through the mouth — was used for the tests.

Sensor testing. Sensors tested include radar and radio frequency, lasers, optical and electro-optical, infrared, seismic, and acoustic. The bulk of sensor testing occurs in an open-air test range that exposes the sensor to a real-world environment, facilitating full system performance testing. Additionally, WSMR has supplementary laboratory environments for certain types of sensors testing.

Weapons testing. Although WSMR is the nation’s principal location for missile testing, capabilities support a wide range of weapons such as directed energy, which includes narrowband, wideband, and ultra-wideband microwave directed energy. The Pulsed Laser Vulnerability Test System is used to test electro-optical/infrared tactical weapons systems.