The National Radar Cross Section (RCS) Test Facility (NRTF) is the premier DoD facility for RCS testing. Formerly known as RATSCAT, which began measuring radar scattering in 1963, it is comprised of two complementary sites, Mainsite and RATSCAT Advanced Measurement System (RAMS). Assigned to the U.S. Air Force’s 781st Test Squadron, NRTF is located west of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico in a rolling gypsum region of WSMR. NRTF specializes in the RCS characterization of full-scale, aerodynamic vehicles and antenna radiation pattern development. Due to its remote, secure environment, it can also accommodate customers requiring specialized testing of developmental electronics systems. NRTF products directly support weapon system development programs, vulnerability assessment studies, and mission planning efforts throughout the DoD.
Mainsite has a ground plane RCS range with monostatic and bistatic capabilities to support a variety of targets ranging from small targets to full-scale operational targets. Both fixed and portable equipment can be set up in a wide variety of configurations for special tests. Mainsite is divided into two main ranges: The North Range, comprised of Pits 3, 5, and 6, and Pit 2 in the West Range. In addition, portable equipment can be set up in a wide variety of configurations for special tests. Test targets at Mainsite can be mounted on polystyrene foam columns of various height on rotating tables. The rotating tables accept a wide variety of targets ranging from small missiles and reentry vehicles to full-size aircraft and ground vehicles weighing up to 60,000 pounds. Measurements at Mainsite can be made at any frequency from 120 MHz to 18 GHz and at frequencies of 34 to 36 GHz and 94 GHz. Both monostatic and bistatic RCS, as well as antenna patterns, can be measured, and special measurements such as near-field, JEM, glint, and Doppler are available upon request. Additionally, a tailored data package, full test reports, including analysis and interpretation of data, and special data processing are provided to range users according to their requirements. In addition to these capabilities, Mainsite has the resources to accomplish the design and construction of model targets.
Modeling standards are based on customer requirements, radar scattering principles, and fabrication techniques. Linear model dimensions of ± 0.2 percent are routinely achieved with angle accuracy of 0.05 degrees. Model Shop personnel have built models up to 58 feet in length and can perform extensive detailing to provide items such as inlet and exhaust ducts, rotating turbine and compressor blades, and moveable control surfaces. The primary support structures used at Mainsite are foam columns, constructed of beaded polystyrene. The density of the material used is dependent upon the weight of the target to be supported, with the shape designed to minimize the return signature. These columns are then attached to the appropriate sized turntable. Cranes, manlifts, forklifts and other heavy equipment are available on site for mounting of large and small targets. Typically, small, lightweight targets can be mounted to an accuracy of ±0.2 degrees in roll and pitch. Large, heavy targets can be mounted with an accuracy of ±0.5 to 1.0 degree in roll and pitch.
Radar Target Scatter (RATSCAT) Advanced Measurements (RAMS)
RAMS is a self-contained, secure test complex consisting of the Target Support facility, an 8900 foot paved shadow plane range, the Central Facility, and an office complex, situated at the base of the San Andres mountains 35 miles northwest of the NRTF Mainsite.