New chamber is a big deal for radio frequency testing in Army vehicles

Army RF test chamber

A technician tests an antenna in a smaller anechoic chamber; the new chamber will accommodate the Army’s largest vehicles.

Army researchers are now better able to test the radio frequencies used for essential field technologies with the opening of a new anechoic chamber—one of the largest on the East Coast—in late August at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Anechoic chambers disallow echoes. 

The new space enables the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, to test vehicles in a wide variety of radio frequency spectrums, an Army release stated, noting that this allows for maximum function and accurate performance measurement. The Radio-frequency Electro-Magnetic Compatibility and Antenna Test, or REMCAT, also provides capabilities for testing larger and mobile vehicle-mounted projects.

“There is a critical need for such a chamber and the important capabilities it will provide for CERDEC and the APG community,” said Dr. Mahbub Hoque, Radio Frequency Communications Division chief for the Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate.

The size of the camber is significant because it allows researchers to bring in the Army’s largest vehicle in order to test its equipment. "With the previous facilities, we'd have to remove various bits and pieces to be able to get the whole vehicle through the doors, or the ceiling was too low once the vehicle was inside," said Frank Bohn, S&TCD Electronic Protection and Interference Mitigation branch chief. .

“This facility allows us to focus on a system’s functionality in specific frequency ranges, then take test results and predict that it either can maintain signal capability or will lose ‘x-amount’ in the field,” Bohn said. “From there, we can provide suggestions to our customers about how to mitigate signal loss, or find a better solution to maintain capability.”

CERDEC’s new chamber provides space and flexibility for large ground vehicle testable conditions.

“Once deployed, this will be a game changer for the WIN-T [Warfighter Information Network-Tactical] network,” said Gary Martin, program executive officer for Command, Control and Communications. “With the improved performance and highly cost-effective nature of the directional networking antenna and its potential application to WIN-T, it will not only enhance the performance of the Army network, but will also reduce the antenna cost as much as 70 percent.”

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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