Survivability, Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate

High Energy Laser Test Facility (HELSTF), Large Vacuum Chamber (LVC). Weapon-class High Energy Laser beams can be propagated in the chamber

High Energy Laser Test Facility (HELSTF), Large Vacuum Chamber (LVC).
Weapon-class High Energy Laser beams can be propagated in the chamber

The Survivability, Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate (SV) is a recognized center of expertise for nuclear effects test and evaluation (T & E).  Major nuclear weapon 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.

Relativistic Electron Beam Accelerator (REBA)

The REBA 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.

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, as well as calibration and operational testing of military radioactivity, detection, indication, and computation (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. 

Eldorado Facility

The Eldorado Irradiator Facility is used for gamma dose simulation testing.  The facility is capable of providing dose rates between 50 and 0.01 rad (Si)/sec 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.

Pulsed Laser Vulnerability Test System (PLVTS)

The PLVTS is the largest pulsed CO2 laser in the United States, designed to support susceptibility and vulnerability testing of Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) tactical weapon systems.  Fully transportable and self-contained, PLVTS is capable of providing tactical threat environments at virtually any test range in the United States or in the world. 

Electromagnetic Test Capabilities

SV operates extensive Electromagnetic (EM) Environmental Effects (E3) test facilities to support the requirements for test and evaluation of weapons systems while being subjected to electromagnetic environments (EMEs).  SV's E3 test and evaluation capabilities include: Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR), Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC), Electromagnetic Interference (EMI), Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), EM radiation hazards (fuel, ordnance and personnel), High Power Microwave (HPM) and Lightning Effects (LE). 

Horizontally Polarized Dipole II (HPDII)

The HPDII EMP simulator is a fast rise time free-field Electromagntic Pulse (EMP) simulator.  It is stationed at WSMR, but is a mobile EMP simulator routinely requested by the customer to be set up at remote sites.  The mobile HPDII consists of a lowboy trailer used to transport the pulser, antenna and a data acquisition trailer.

Lightning Test Facility (LTF)

The LTF is capable of simulating both the direct and indirect lightning strike characteristic required in lightning effect testing.  It also is capable of simulating the characteristic of a direct strike.  To simulate the direct strike of lightning there is a high-current bank capable of producing 200,000 Amps.

Semiconductor Test Laboratory (STL)

The STL enables all types of discrete, active and custom semiconductors to be characterized and then tested by exposure to the appropriate initial nuclear radiation (INR) environment.  Due to a rapid transfer system between the four INR facilities and STL, detailed post exposure characterization of test samples can be initiated within two minutes.  More than a dozen experienced engineers have characterized and tested more than 5,000 different types of electronic devices during the past 13 years.  Parametric characterizations are performed on the following mainframe testers:

Teradyne A575................. 2 ea. - Teradyne J971

Teradyne A580................. 2 ea. - Teradyne J750

Radiation Tolerance Assured Supply and Support Center (RTASSC)

The RTASSC is an ISO 9002 certified service-oriented supply and support center dedicated to assist military and space system program offices with diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages, proactive and reactive management and solutions, and radiation tolerance (RT) "cradle-to-grave" lifecycle management and solutions. 

Climatic Test Facilities

In order to determine if systems can effectively operate in diverse real-world conditions, SV can subject an entire system to extreme low- and high-temperature environments in climatic test facilities.  Temperature tests can be run on complete systems or individual components.  The capability also exists to expose both the system and its components to rigorous dust, wind, fungus and other phenomenon.  Shock and vibration facilities that duplicate typical life cycle environments are also available. 

Test Laboratories

There are several nondestructive test laboratories available to perform specific evaluations of systems.  One lab conducts metallurgical inspections to assess corrosion prevention and control, health hazards assessment and conformance, environmental testing and failure analysis of explosive components. 

High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF)

The High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF), operated by the Survivability Vulnerability and Assessment Directorate (SVAD), is a component of ATEC-WSMR.  SVAD's Directed Energy (DE) facilities cover the High Power Microwave (HPM) and High Energy Laser spectrum.  SVAD's experienced workforce at HELSTF, coupled with the extensive land and airspace at White Sands Missile Range, provide a one-of-a-kind capability for a wide variety of laser propagation, lethality, survivability, vulnerability and dynamic engagements for High Energy Laser test and evaluation.  The HELSTF represents an investment of approximately $800 million, offering a wide array of expertise, instrumentation and unique High Energy Laser infrastructure to support laser technology programs and weapon system development/testing approved for above-the-horizon High Energy Laser propagation.  HELSTF is transforming its infrastructure to keep pace with changing technologies.  Modernization efforts include transforming the infrastructure from chemical-based laser technology to solid-state technology; fully upgrading mission control systems; and fielding mobile diagnostic suites.  These modernization efforts assisted the development/testing of future HEL technologies and maintain HELSTF as the organization of choice for testing HEL weapon systems.  Key assets include:

  • Solid State Laser Testbed (SSLTB): Leveraging the capability of the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL), HELSTF has converted components of the THEL to serve as a test bed for solid-state laser systems under development.  This is the nation's highest power solid-state laser and will provide for the investigation of high-power laser propagation effects, target lethality and engagements of short-range tactical rockets, artillery and mortars.  Future efforts may include the integration of other developmental lasers/systems operating at the solid-state wave lengths.
  • Sea Lite Beam Director (SLBD): A high-precision beam director system built by Hughes Aircraft Company, the Sea Lite Beam Director provides the capability to track highly maneuverable short-range and long-range targets.  The optics coated for the infrared and visible allow the beam director to also serve as a high-resolution imaging system to record laser engagement data and missile test data conducted at WSMR. 
  • 20 kW Solid State Fiber Laser: HELSTF owns and operates a 20 kW fiber laser welder device as part of a High Energy Laser capability for solid-state laser testing.  The device is housed in a container, with its ancillary equipment, that can be transported to any location to support High Energy Laser testing.
  • Pulsed Laser Vulnerability Test System (PLVTS): The PLVTS is a transportable surrogate laser device capable of duplicating tactical HEL environments.  The PLVTS is the highest energy pulsed CO2 laser in the United States. 
  • Advanced Pointer Tracker (APT): The APT is a mobile, tactical-size HEL beam director to address critical pointing and tracking issues with a flexible government-operated open architecture.  Prior significant capital investments provide for survivability tests, risk reduction tests and proof of concept demonstrations.  Weapon HEL-traceable software such as aim-point designation and maintenance algorithms are tested.  Traceable components are evaluated to determine suitability for combat use (sensors, input/output windows, gyros, fire control, optics and beam path conditioning, etc.).  Also low/high-power survivability testing is conducted against static and dynamic targets in tactical beam propagation environments.  Broadband optical coatings provide a multi-wavelength illumination and imaging capability.
  • Target Reflected Energy Measurement (TREM) System: The TREM measures in-band laser radiation reflected from a ground target (static or spinning target).  This capability was developed by the Directed Energy Test and Evaluation Capability (DETEC) program to address HEL T&E instrumentation shortfalls.
  • Ground Target Irradiance Measurement (GTIM) System: The GTIM measures at the target the irradiance distribution of an incident continuous wave (CW) laser beam in the near-infrared (NIR) portion of the spectrum.  This shortfall represented the need for a capability to provide time-dependent spatial distributions of CW laser irradiance in the NIR.  The GTIM capability was developed by the Directed Energy Test and Evaluation Capability (DETEC) program.
  • HEL Hazardous Test Area (HTA): Located 900 meters downrange from the laser test cells, the HTA is used for large targets or targets with significant amounts of high explosive.  The site is fully instrumented and has remotely controlled diagnostic equipment.
  • Optical Maintenance Facility (OMF): The OMF provides an on-site, large clean-room capability to clean, characterize (wavefront/damage threshold) and install optics of virtually any type.
  • Large Vacuum Chamber (LVC): The LVC is a 50-foot-diameter sphere/system capable of producing a vacuum equivalent to a 650,000-foot altitude.  It is the only large vacuum chamber in the country where weapon-class High Energy Laser beams can be propagated in the chamber through an 800-foot evacuated beam tube.  Also, weapon system altitude qualification tests can be conducted.  There is a removable, sectioned internal track platform inside the chamber that is designed to support very large and heavy test articles.  One 30-ton and three 3-ton externally mounted hoists are provided at the top of the LVC for target handling.  Numerous "hard" points within the LVC allow for positioning of the test article in virtually any configuration.  Remotely controlled retargeting mirror allow engagement of targets within the LVC.