Bang! The dark night sky lights up, broken by flashes of bright light. When the night settles in Huntsville, residents near Redstone Arsenal do not anticipate the darkness lasting long.

Twice a year, in early spring and fall, Redstone Test Center conducts aircraft survivability testing on various military fixed and rotary wing aircraft. The mission of these tests is to improve aircraft survivability against the threats Soldiers face in the operational environments of today. This collaborative joint test effort supports multiple Army organizations as well as many other military service branches.

Simply described, aircraft survivability testing addresses the aircraft’s capability of detecting inbound threats and countermeasure responses to protect an aircraft and its passengers. Although this description may be simple, the job and its importance to the war fighter are much more.

While there are various threats to the aircraft, RTC’s tests focus on addressing the most common threats Soldiers see while flying. RTC is fortunate to have the capability of firing both live and simulated munitions to test the capability of these aircraft systems. As technology improves, protecting the war fighter from these ever-changing threats requires frequent retesting to stay ahead of the curve and keep Soldiers safe.

These tests are conducted in varying temperatures and terrains to simulate the environment of the war fighter. Aircraft survivability testing utilizes air and ground test areas to obtain comprehensive test results, both of which provide substantial distance for aircraft to perform maneuvers and flight patterns during the event.

In the early Redstone days, these ranges were used primarily for munitions testing and have since evolved to support testing activities for aircraft survivability, as well as other unique tests. Tests supported include laser operations, tactical vehicle operations, unmanned aircraft system operations, and integrated base defense test operations with a focus on sensors.

As we continue to test these aircraft and their survivability systems, RTC appreciates the cooperation, patience and support of Huntsville’s residents as we conduct these tests in support of America’s men and women in uniform and the defense of the nation.

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