MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
When Marine Corps weapons platforms are called into action anywhere in the world, reliability is critical and a Maintenance Center Albany laboratory works to ensure there are no problems.
The Automatic Test Equipment Program Branch of MCA’s Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Department provides high tech support and relies on advanced mobile test stations and packaged weapon platform support kits which provide automated fault detection and allow for rapid repair of malfunctioning weapon system electronics.
“We allow the Marine maintainer to support important equipment in places like Afghanistan to get the job done,” said Rick Pavlik, manager, ATEP Branch, TMDE, MCA. “Electronics on equipment that is supported by our equipment can be tested. Weapon systems supported include communication equipment, radios, ground vehicles such as Light Armored Vehicles and tanks, radar systems, and Marine Corps optics equipment. The kits include both the software and hardware specific to the support of a weapon system. The test software in these kits allows the Marine maintainer to test the electronic items from the weapon platform quickly and accurately.”
Equipment that isn’t available to perform its intended mission can negatively impact mission readiness.
“Without that test equipment, a vehicle may not be ready to move,” Pavlik said. “If there’s a problem, our equipment helps get that system back on line so Marines can do their jobs.”
The ATEP lab is one of several in the 33,000 square foot climate controlled TMDE facility with 8,000 square feet of raised access flooring and 1,000 square feet of radar shielding. This facility handles the calibration and repair of electrical, electronic, physical, dimensional, light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation and electro-optical test instrumentation.
It also houses facilities to support the design, development and production of Automatic Test Systems and weapon specific test program sets.
“The ATEP branch has the technical resources to develop, test and support both software and hardware, provide engineering support, develop requirements and specifications and provide training of products to the Marine maintainer,” said John Powell, manager, TMDE Department, MCA. “The branch also has a graphics arts capability and produces data plates and decals for a wide range of equipment.”
ATEP teams focus on automatic test equipment support, software support, weapon system support, technical data support and engineering support.
The ATEP was created in 1982 under the guidance of Marine Corps Order 10510.18A. The establishment was to meet a need within the Marine Corps for a central agency responsible for ATE technical management with emphasis on software development, configuration control, post deployment software support and reduction in ATE proliferation.
The ATEP has been tasked by the Marine Corps Order to maintain and provide the requisite expertise to design, develop, procure, produce and support the ATE required throughout the Marine Corps. Over the years since its inception, the ATEP has responded to increased mission requirements and has become a valuable electronic technology information resource for the Marine Corps.
The ATEP is committed to providing the resources that enable the Marine Corps to have maintenance support on technologically advanced weapon systems. Its goal is to keep the Marine Corps test capabilities in line with future technologies as they evolve. To accomplish this, it requires designing and developing more sophisticated test capabilities and keeping current on the complex technologies of the future.
“Design, development, acquisition and life cycle support of ATE and weapon system test programs has proven to be highly complex,” Pavlik said. “Direct fleet support and life cycle management of the hundreds of ATE systems and weapon system test programs and consequently millions of lines of code requires a highly skilled technical organization.”
The organizational elements of the ATEP program are currently divided between Quantico, Va., and Albany, Ga. The program office is organizationally a component of Marine Corps Systems Command, and the technical support activity is component of LOGCOM, located in the maintenance center at MCLB Albany.
The technical support activity in Albany is divided into functional support teams dedicated to performing the various activities required to design, develop, acquire and support ATE and TPS hardware and software.