The White Sands Test Center (WSTC) is responsible for planning and conducting tests at White Sands Missile Range. The center command position is a board command-selected position from the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology ASA at the colonel or GS-15 level. WSTC reports to the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. Call 575-678-1959.

An integral part of test operations, Army Air Flight Detachment operates six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and a C-12 King Air twin turboprop aircraft to support on- and off-range test customers. The fleet is used to search and recover critical test components. The UH-60s and the C-12 can be modified with various instrument packages, sensors and payloads to support test missions. All WSMR aircraft can be used as photo/chase platforms. Army Air Flight Detachment helicopters are also capable of external load operations.


The Range Operations Directorate (RO) establishes and implements policies, programs and procedures; coordinates range operations and data measurements; and has complete flight safety control for all missiles, rockets, munitions and other devices launched from or into WSMR, or which pass through WSMR controlled airspace.

The directorate conducts flight safety management, schedules and controls all range operations, and operates a vast inventory of instrumentation used in the test and evaluation of systems and weapons. Data are collected on any variety of assets such as missiles, rockets, aircraft, bombs, munitions, ground systems and targets. The primary data collection systems are telemetry, radar, optics, Global Positions System (GPS), timing, meteorology and remote target control. Various instrumentation systems are used to receive, record and relay test data. This data is processed for real-time display at facilities where test conductors, flight safety officers and range controllers monitor and manage the test. Post mission, the data is used for comprehensive analysis of a given test. An important test enabler capability is the White Sands Integrated Target Control System (WITS). The WITS enables the range to provide target presentations for weapons tests. The WITS is fully certified to control a wide variety of targets to include both full-scale drones (e.g., QF-4 and QF-16) and subscale aircraft drones. As a full-service system, the WITS also controls dynamic ground vehicles such as consumer and tactical assets that range from pickup trucks to tanks. Instrumentation systems are available for measuring basic physical properties, including mass, temperature, force, pressure, position, velocity and acceleration. Acoustic and electro-optics instrumentation is also available, including visible and infrared imaging and nonimaging systems. Virtually all test support capabilities are transportable to enable the range to reconfigure as required to support specific test program requirements. This ability also enables the range to regularly “safari” test support to locations worldwide. In addition to traditional range instrumentation, the directorate operates the Aerial Cable Range (ACR). The ACR is a 3-mile-long Kevlar cable strung between two mountain peaks. Large targets can be suspended and rocket-propelled down the cable or drop-tested.

For more information, visit the WSMR website at or call 575-678-2400. Write to: Director, Range Operations Directorate, White Sands Missile Range, NM 88002.


The Materiel Test Directorate (MT) provides evaluation of systems, materiel and equipment through field, laboratory and sponsors testing on WSMR for DOD, foreign, space and industry customers. Throughout its history, MT has tested a wide variety of hardware, both U.S. and foreign. Among these are air defense missile systems, including the Stinger, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor, Patriot/Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), surface-to-surface rocket and missile systems including Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and its variants (guided and unitary), High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) and various unmanned aerial vehicles.

The testing of today’s complex systems continues to dominate the MT workload. A typical test program will include several components: the review of system performance requirements; the development of detailed test plans; tests ranging from component, subsystem and system to software verification; validation of human factors assessments; and finally, the firing of rockets and missiles.

At each testing step, data are collected and analyzed. Finally, overall system assessments are made to assure systems are ready for Soldiers in the field. To accomplish the complex task of testing, a core team consisting of a project engineer, systems analyst and test conductor is formed. The project engineer is the focal point for all project-related test activities. He or she is responsible for planning, coordinating, executing and reporting test results and associated data analysis. The test conductor is responsible for accomplishing the test program and for directing the actual test efforts. A key activity in the successful development and execution of an effective test program is system analysis. Systems analysts are assigned to each project to develop and implement a comprehensive test and evaluation program. Throughout a given program, analysts review the test requirements, develop detailed test plans, and monitor the collection of data during test and simulation activities. Upon completion of the test program, results are assembled to quantify the system’sperformance. These assessments, along with data accuracy and confidence-level quality indicators, are presented in final test reports.

Explosive testing capabilities include facilities for safety tests such as fire, drop, bullet impact, sympathetic detonation and others. Warhead arena tests, warhead penetration tests and failure analysis of explosive components also are available. Maximum data collection for failure analysis on lethal weapon systems and submunitions can be conducted remotely using a robotic Remote Area Disassembly Vehicle.

In addition to controlled environment testing, the actual operation of the system is tested, which in many cases involves the launching of a rocket or missile. Reliability, availability and maintainability (RAM) information, including MANPRINT factors and safety data, is collected and evaluated during these tests. MT provides knowledgeable reliability engineers and equipment specialists to develop test methodology and to plan customer reliability and maintainability test programs. Test data from the programs are processed in the Developmental Test Command (DTC) Standard Data Collection System and provide test incident reports to assess overall system performance. These performance parameters indicate utility and effectiveness of the system so MT can assure the best systems possible are fielded.

For systems with embedded software, a unique requirement-oriented software assessment methodology targeted at the system performance level can be applied. The approach is focused at the software’s requirement level and deliberately avoids further debugging of the contractor’s computer code. Simulation techniques are available for evaluation of systems under test.

Mathematical models of systems, subassemblies and major components can be assembled and executed on digital computer systems. The results of simulations can help determine range safety boundaries, preflight and post-flight analysis, environmental effects on system functions and overall system performance in preparation for live firings.

MT has experience in a variety of other technical activities that are test-related. Some examples include supporting the systems engineering process, performing software independent verification and validation, monitoring developer (contractor) testing, assisting in establishing the extent to which simulation could and should be used, assisting in the verification and validation of simulations, and assisting in the identification of data collection and data reduction requirements.

When appropriate, MT coordinates requirements with the Range Operations Directorate to conduct live rocket or missile firings. This coordination determines the launch and impact site, the use of targets, and the type and accuracy of data required. For more information, visit the WSMR website at www.wsmr. or call 575-678-1241/1243. Write to: Director, Materiel Test Directorate, White Sands Missile Range, NM 88002-5158.


The Survivability, Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate (SVAD) offers complete laboratory capabilities for nuclear environments, electromagnetic environments, and applied environment test and evaluation. As part of the laboratory capabilities, the SVAD has complete ionizing radiation simulation environments and testing expertise. The SVAD also provides extensive electromagnetic environment simulation and testing expertise. Finally, the SVAD provides myriad other environments and capabilities ranging from high and low temperatures to salt, fog, rain, shock and vibration, and a chemical laboratory.

Ionizing Radiation Test Capabilities

Major nuclear effects test facilities operated by SV include:

• White Sands Solar Furnace (WSSF): The WSSF 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 WSSF can penetrate a half-inch stainless steel plate in 40 seconds.

• PI-538 Flash X-ray Facility: The PI-538 is a high-energy, pulsed, field-emission electron beam or Bremsstrahlung X-ray source. It provides an energy source of short duration for determining material responses to rapid and in-depth energy deposition and is a particularly cost-effective means of testing relatively large items. The system is optimized to produce an output that can irradiate substantial volumes at levels exceeding 1.0E10 cGy(Si) per second over a 50-square-centimeter area.

• Linear Electron Accelerator (LINAC): The LINAC 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.

• Gamma Radiation Facility (GRF): The GRF is designed to provide the total gamma dose and residual gamma dose environments needed for nuclear effects testing on virtually any size item. The GRF is used primarily for Transient Radiation Effects on Electronics (TREE) experiments and verification tests of systems for gamma dose survivability. However, the uses of the GRF are diverse, including radiography and shielding experiments and nuclear power plant equipment and materials verification, as well as calibration and operational testing of military RADIAC instrumentation.

• Fast Burst Reactor (FBR): The FBR is an unmoderated and unreflected cylindrical assembly of uranium and molybdenum alloy. The FBR produces high-yield pulses of microsecond width, as well as long-term, steady-state radiation, to closely simulate the neutron radiation environment produced by a fission weapon. Its principal use has been and continues to be the testing of electronic devices to a fast neutron environment. Additionally, it can be combined with the PI-538 Flash X-ray to provide a synergistic combined test environment.

• DS-20 Panoramic Irradiator: The DS-20 Panoramic Irradiator is used for gamma dose simulation testing. The facility is capable of providing dose rates between 50 and 0.01 rad(Si) per second in the direct beam with no attenuation. The Eldorado can also operate in an extended operation mode to fulfill the unique requirements of Space Radiation Environment tests. Utilizing off-axis irradiations or aluminum attenuators, lower dose rates are achieved.

In addition to these ionizing radiation producing facilities, the SV also provides test and support capabilities in conjunction with the nuclear facilities with the Semiconductor Test Laboratory and the Radiation Tolerance Assured Supply and Support Center.