By Maj. Jesse B. Holmes, Test Officer, Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland – NCOs from the U.S. Army Ordinance Center and School along with a test team from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command (OTC) completed testing the Next Generation Automatic Test Set (NGATS) here recently.
Despite scheduling delays and increased personal protective measures due to COVID-19, the test players and test team were able to work through such obstacles and conduct a successful test event of this critical system.
NGATS is a diagnostic test set used to troubleshoot line replaceable units in the field and is a mounted system that allows Army maintainers to fix forward on the battlefield.
According to OTC test officers, NGATS is designed to provide a general-purpose mobile and modular diagnostic test system to support testing digital and analog electronic hardware and software for a variety of Army weapon systems.
The NGATS provides Integrated Test Equipment Operators and Maintainers (Army Military Occupational Specialty 94Y) the ability to bring depot level maintenance and repair capability into direct support of Soldiers in the field.
The system’s modular design allows it to be carried with the Army’s current load handling system of vehicles, which allows NGATS to be rapidly employed and repositioned on the battlefield to provide key electronics maintenance support.
NGATS is contained on two international standard (ISO) 20-foot containers along with a 60-kilowatt generator, providing direct support to ground vehicle line replaceable unit electronic circuit cards.
Currently a limited number of NGATS have been fielded to begin training Army maintainers on the new system while it undergoes follow-on testing in preparation for a full fielding decision later in the year.
During the test, NCOs from the U.S. Army Ordinance Center and School at Fort Lee, Virginia conducted instrument self-tests and operational self-testing of the NGATS platform.
The NCOs who have been trained on the maintenance of the system conducted Soldier-level tasks required to operate the system along with test team support from OTC Operations Research Systems Analysts (ORSAs).
The testing provided feedback on updates to the system and insight into future refinements as the system gets closer to full fielding.
The mobility of the system was put to the test to determine the NGATS’ durability while under field conditions.
As part of each round of testing, the system was driven off-road to ensure its complex array of electronic components could withstand the rigors of an operational environment.
Upon return from off-road driving, the system was unloaded and run through its self-testing procedure to ensure it still functioned as it should.
Data collected from the test will be instrumental in providing Army leaders the best information on production and fielding of NGATS.
About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:
As the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC tests Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer — the American Soldier.