New Chemical Agent Test Facility Now Open
CCDC Chemical Biological Center Public Affairs | March 24th, 2016
The Non-Traditional Agent Defense Test System. The system is a collection of specialized test chambers designed to test chemical agent protection, detection and decontamination equipment under operational conditions most relevant to today’s warfighter.
The Army’s one-of-a-kind laboratory for testing how well new military equipment stands up against deadly chemical weapons is now open for business, and one of its first customers is a program that will expand the chemical detection capabilities of the nation’s warfighters.
The Non-Traditional Agent Defense Test System is a collection of specialized test chambers designed to test chemical agent protection, detection and decontamination equipment, from small to large, under operational conditions most relevant to today’s warfighter. It is the only facility in the world that allows an entire system―rather than individual components―to be fully immersed in chemical agent while under test.
The lab became fully operational at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) in January 2016, and among the facility’s first customers is the Next Generation Chemical Detector, a program of record executed by the Joint Project Manager for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Contamination Avoidance. The program will field four new chemical detection capabilities to warfighters across the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. It is the first-ever system designed to detect all phases of matter: solid, liquid, vapor and aerosol.
The Next Generation Chemical Detector is now in the “brassboard” testing phase, with contractors bringing mature prototypes to the Non-Traditional Agent Defense Test System to be tested against a variety of chemicals and conditions. Testing will continue throughout 2016.
System Unveiled to DoD in May
Development and construction of the Non-Traditional Agent Defense Test System was a multi-year effort with support from across the U.S. Defense Department’s Chemical and Biological Defense Program. The lab is operated by ECBC, and was stood up in partnership with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
“As director of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, I am delighted that this capability now resides here at the Center,” said Joseph Corriveau, Ph.D., at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on May 27, 2015. “This facility expands our capabilities to ensure that the safest and best equipment gets into the hands of the warfighter.”
U.S. Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland’s 2nd District, who attended the ceremony, noted, “The last time I was (at ECBC), it was to welcome home the team responsible for destroying a large chemical weapon stockpile in Syria. In a civilized society, the world cannot stand by and watch. The threats are real. Systems like the Non-Traditional Agent Defense Test System will ensure our armed forces have what they need to do their missions every day.”
Since the ribbon-cutting ceremony, ECBC and its partners put the finishing touches on the facility to make it fully operational and ready to accept equipment for testing.
Specialized Chambers for Unique Tests
The facility’s test chambers have the inherent flexibility to address the rapidly changing threat environment that warfighters face on the battlefield. Lab components include the Primary Containment Module, an environmentally controlled chamber for testing large systems and equipment; the Test Chamber Module, a double glove box chamber to house test fixtures; and the Aerosol Test Facility, a chamber specifically designed to handle aerosol toxicological and detector testing, with an environmental conditioning capability from -10°C to +50°C with or without humidity.
Other features include a control room, surety laboratory, agent storage facility, and ingress and egress rooms.
A National Asset
In addition to supporting ECBC’s mission to protect the warfighter, the Non-Traditional Agent Defense Test System also allows the Center to continue to serve its partners that also have a vested interest in the defense against weapons of mass destruction, including the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community, and international allies.
“As awareness and understanding of non-traditional agents has grown, so has the need to perform tests under these conditions, which includes developing the infrastructure necessary to support that testing,” said Michael Abaie, ECBC Director of Engineering. “This system is a national asset, and we welcome our partners from across the test and evaluation enterprise to come here and put it to work for our warfighters.”