NEWS | July 12, 2021

Army calibration lab updated, dedicated at Redstone Arsena

By Michelle Gordon U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command

Leaders from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command celebrated the renovation of the U.S. Army Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment Activity headquarters building during a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 29 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

The celebration marked the completion of the first major renovation to the Maj. Gen. John M. Cone Metrology Laboratory in USATA’s more than 50-year history on the installation. Cone served as the director of quality assurance at the U.S. Army Materiel Command in the mid-1960s.

During his remarks, USATA Director Dr. Richard Parker described Cone as a pioneer in the field of calibration and recognized him as one of the Army’s leading authorities on quality assurance.

The original building was dedicated to Cone following his death in 1966.

Parker said, “At the time, this was the nation’s largest, most completely equipped laboratory for precise calibration and measurement of guided missile equipment.”

The newly completed renovation project restores the laboratory to that standard, without expanding the footprint of the original building.

Greg Boggs, the acting director of the Army Primary Standards Lab, said some of the major improvements include a new radio frequency power anechoic chamber twice the size of the previous chamber, and an aerosol laboratory to support chemical and biological test equipment, which includes a built-in ISO 7 Class 10,000 clean room.

“An anechoic chamber has wedges to prevent echoes in the chamber,” Boggs said. “The sound is absorbed, so if a sensor is in there, it does not get any backfeed off the walls. It gets the true source that’s being fed to it. In it, we calibrate the sensors used at radar sites for safety measurements.”

Another major improvement was the collocation and consolidation of the force lab functions.

“Previously, our force lab was split among two locations on opposite ends of the building,” Boggs said. “We were able to relocate our 1 million lb. force press to the west side of the building along with our 112,000 lb. deadweight force machines.”

The project also included updates to the building infrastructure, as well as electrical and communications systems.

Boggs said the longtime project has been a dream since the early 2000s, but became a reality in 2015 when the design process began. Construction started in 2019 and continued until earlier this year, barely missing a beat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were actually pretty fortunate to be able to progress through with no delays at all,” Boggs said. “The construction company did a really good job with safety protocols and working through the COVID-19 actions.”

Throughout the entire renovation process, the USATA workforce remained in the building and continued their mission — using temporary swing space to allow work to continue throughout the project.

“USATA is the metrology expertise for the Army,” Boggs said. “Anything that makes a measurement which a decision is based upon usually requires calibration, so we are responsible for developing calibration standards and systems that will calibrate that technology.”

For their dedication to continuing the mission, Parker dedicated the newly renovated building to the USATA workforce during the ceremony.

“We rededicate this building to the scientists, the engineers and the hardworking employees that make this a reality and have dedicated themselves to the readiness of the U.S. Army,” he said.

AMCOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. Todd Royar echoed Parker’s appreciation for the USATA workforce and thanked them for supporting the warfighter.

“Every single device that the Army uses comes back here in one way, shape, or form to be calibrated and ensure it operates accurately,” Royar said. “The success of our Army — of armed forces — is dependent upon this facility and this workforce. You make more of a difference than you will ever know. And as our weapons systems become ever more complex and require stricter standards, this facility here – the Army Primary Standards Lab – is all that much more important, and it is befitting to have a world-class facility that you, a world-class workforce, can operate in.”