The Javelin is a staple of the battlefield for American Soldiers and Marines. It's used by numerous U.S. Allies. It's a shoulder fired, fire and forget weapon. That means a soldier can launch Javelin at an enemy tank, and then immediately change positions, while the missile is on its flight.
The Javelin works as advertised, and the Redstone Test Center has a lot to do with that. "Really, if you look at it from a taxpayers perspective, we're looking to get the most bang for the buck," says Shane Basham, who's a test engineer with the Redstone Test Center.
Testing with live firings is obviously a great way to get data on the Javelin. At more than $200,000 dollars a unit, live testing could get very expensive. That's where the Redstone Test Center comes in. RTC can test the various components of the system, all the way to a complete simulated firing. It's done using computers, and other high-tech test gear. "We're able to take data from a live firing, and we're able to feed our computers with that data and improve the accuracy of it." says Basham.
The comparison Shane Basham gives for how the RTC data works to make the system better has to do with weather forecasters and their use of computer models in predictions. "They're able to observe the weather and then refine those models to improve the accuracy of that simulation," says Basham.
The equipment the RTC uses for testing the Javelin is custom, and while the soldier in the field might not care about that. They certainly care what the testing means to the equipment they might ultimately use in a life or death situation. "That would be a hallmark of what Redstone Test Center does. We work for the taxpayer, and as we say around here, for the war fighter...the soldier. And I feel very confident, having been in this industry for quite a while, that the weapons system that we test...it works very well," says Shane Basham.