Naval Equipment Qualification TestingDecember 11, 2018
There is only one commercial site in the United States that can provide global solutions capabilities for all Navy equipment qualification testing, as well as extensive test and qualification capabilities for ground, avionics, and space applications. This test site is the Rustburg Division of National Technical Systems. Strategically located in Central Virginia, the facility is within driving distance of the Eastern seaports, various military bases and Government facilities, major prime contractors, and Washington D.C.
Besides geographical and environmental factors, what makes this test and engineering support site appealing is its unique blend of capabilities and proven expertise. NTS Rustburg provides engineering analysis and simulation, as well as multiple levels of physical testing for virtually any size equipment under test (EUT).
The main purpose of qualification testing is to ensure the reliable performance of equipment according to operational requirements once integrated into the end-user platform. To this end, emulation tests are usually divided into two categories: tests that subject the EUT to the environment in which the equipment will have to operate (susceptibility tests), and tests that evaluate the effects that the EUT will have on other systems which are part of the overall operational environment (compatibility tests). Along these lines, tests can be environmental in nature (e.g., shock and vibration, temperature and humidity, drip and immersion, airborne and structure borne noise, etc.) or electromagnetic in nature (e.g., EMI, EMC, ESD, magnetic, power quality, etc.).
The most challenging tests, from the EUT point of view, are those that apply very high energy levels to the equipment during very short periods of time, such as emulating the near-hull explosion of a submerged mine or a torpedo, or the electromagnetic pulse caused by the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the stratosphere.
In the first case, Heavyweight Shock tests are performed according to MIL-DTL-901E (previously MIL-S-901D) using Floating Shock Platforms (FSP, up to 70,000 pounds) and Extended Floating Shock Platforms (EFSP, up to 125,000 pounds). The primary purpose of the Detail Specification is to verify the ability of shipboard installations to withstand shock loadings due to effects from near-miss weapons or underwater explosions (UNDEX). Heavyweight shock test series utilize a series of UNDEX charges at specified shot geometries. EUT is typically installed to simulate the shipboard dynamic environment. NTS has developed and maintains an inventory of standard deck simulator fixtures (DSFs) to approximate the range of deck environments encountered on navy ships (8, 14, 25 and 40 Hz). NTS engineers are highly recognized for designing cost-effective shock test fixtures that interface EUT with the DSF or FSP. As a cost reduction measure, NTS was instrumental in developing a navy approved, lower cost, land-based alternative to heavyweight shock tests for some test items. This medium weight deck simulating test method utilizes the Deck Simulating Shock Machine or DSSM. NTS Rustburg maintains a DSSM and has unparalleled experience conducting shock tests on the DSSM.
In August 2018, NTS Rustburg added electromagnetic testing capabilities. The new Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)/Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) facility is A2LA certified for MIL-STD-464 (system level environmental EM), MIL-STD-461 (EMI/EMC), MIL-STD-1399 Sections 300A and 300B (shipboard power quality), MIL-STD-704 (aircraft power quality), MIL-STD-1686C and DO-160 Section 25 (Electrostatic Discharge), DOD-STD-1399 Section 070 (DC Magnetic Field), and RTCA/DO-160F-H (Aerospace). The semi-anechoic test chambers (top of page) are also used for Airborne and Structure Borne Noise testing, taking advantage of the extremely quiet background environment. Airborne and Structure Borne Noise testing are A2LA certified as well.
Each of the electrical/electromagnetic standards mentioned above are fairly complex in nature and includes, many individual tests. For example, MIL-STD-461F covers all test cases depicted below.
In the highly competitive test and qualification market, it is extremely important to continuously achieve all possible cost savings for the customer, while consistently preserving compliance to the standards and maintaining the highest quality of service. Along these lines, the main cost reduction drivers can be identified with expeditious, high quality document preparation and delivery, the ability to offer all required tests at one location (to help the customer manage expenses related to travel, shipping, and staging), the continuous optimization of test sequencing (critical path based schedule, to avoid non-test periods while on location), and the reduction of individual tests time. In response to these challenges, NTS Rustburg consistently delivers high quality test procedures within approximately two weeks of contract award, and test reports within two weeks of test campaign completion. NTS Rustburg has also consistently added certified test cases to provide a one-stop shop for all required tests. It has adopted a sophisticated company-wide scheduler (VLAB, connected to the central ERP system) to fully optimize programs test schedules based on resources and assets allocation and availability. NTS Rustburg has also innovated ways to reduce test time, as well as associated bid price and execution cost through standards-compliant, efficient test equipment implementation and tailored test solutions.
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