Designing Future T&E Capabilities Today > Edwards Air Force Base > News

The Spectrum Technology Applied Research Office (ASTRO) carries out projects under the Test and Evaluation/Science and Technology (T&E/S&T) program, managed by the Test Resource Management Center (TRMC). These projects aim to change the face of T&E capabilities across the Main Range and Test Facility Base (MRTFB). The T&E/S&T program matures technologies from proof of concept (Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3) to prototype demonstrations in a relevant environment (TRL 6). As a result, capacity modernization projects within the MRTFB are able to integrate these new technologies with reduced technical and programmatic risk. The T&E/S&T program is divided into a number of Test Technology Areas (TTAs), each with a specific purpose. ASTRO is responsible for the Spectrum Efficient Technologies (SET) TTA, which focuses on technologies to improve spectrum utilization. Major areas include wireless technologies, telemetry network technologies and spectrum management.

ASTRO’s mission is simple; “Design T&E’s future capabilities today,” but each part of the mission statement conveys a vital message. The brief begins with “design,” which is the most critical phase of a project. During the design phase, ASTRO considers everything from concept of operations to technical performance, durability and cybersecurity. The statement continues with “Future T&E Capabilities,” which focuses ASTRO’s efforts on T&E capabilities needed to test future weapon systems. Finally, the statement ends with “today,” which is a call to action, signifying that ASTRO is actively engaged in maturing the vital technologies needed to rapidly deploy new T&E capabilities.

A mission defines what we do, the vision points us in the right direction, challenging us to do more. T&E allows weapon systems to transition from an unknown/unproven state to a known/proven state. During T&E, three distinct activities take place during the transition to the known/proven state:

* Data is acquired from the system under test (SUT)

*Information is created by processing data to provide context and meaning

*Knowledge results from the combination of information and experience

Knowledge is the understanding needed to make decisions. This serial process is costly in time, money and human capital. Accelerating this process is extremely beneficial to our fighter, which is why ASTRO’s vision is: “Instant data to knowledge… Delivered via optimized spectrum.” The vision has two distinct parts, first “From instantaneous data to knowledge”, which defines the challenge of converting data from the SUT into a state (knowledge) where decisions are made. The term “snapshot” is the ultimate goal, agility in terms of combat systems requires rapid convergence and analysis of data for decision making. While the first part of the vision addresses the T&E need, the second part, “Transmitted through an optimized spectrum”, defines our constraints.

“The electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) is a very valuable and limited resource used both commercially and militarily,” explained Garo Panossian, head of the Applied Spectrum Technology Research Office. “Test ranges rely on EMS as a transport medium for real-time telemetry data between the system under test and the test engineers. EMS enables safe and efficient outdoor testing. Therefore, optimizing and defending our spectrum is critical for outdoor testing now and in the future, especially at Edwards Air Force Base.”

ASTRO studies, matures and tests technologies to optimize the use of the MRTFB spectrum through coordination with the Range Commanders Council (RCC) and collaboration with test ranges. ASTRO-executed projects increase spectrum efficiency in terms of: bits per second per hertz (bits/s/Hz), spectrum reuse, and spectrum sharing. The research, maturation and testing of SET for T&E use preserves the future of outdoor testing and supports the MRTFB.

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