Find a Security Clearance Job!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

White Sands Missile Range (WSMR)

DTRA was established on October 1, 1998, by the Secretary of Defense under the November 1997 Defense Reform Initiative. The agency was created to safeguard the United States and its allies from WMD. As part of its mission, DTRA evaluates the lethality of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives, and other advanced weapons. The agency provides a broad spectrum of target types on its test beds (many of them mock-ups of WMD facilities) and directs the development and implementation of new weapons technologies against these targets.

DTRA provides a number of testing areas and target types at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) for use by various DoD agencies, other U.S. government organizations, companies and allied government experimenters. The Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), later called the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA) and now DTRA, have operated and maintained testing sites and related infrastructure at WSMR since 1976. DTRA and its legacy organizations have been involved in test activities at WSMR since the 1940s. Today DTRA conducts tests to evaluate the lethality of conventional and advanced weapons against various targets. These tests assist in the development and implementation of new weapon technologies to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Mock enemy targets, including deeply buried and concrete-reinforced structures are used to test weapon systems. DTRA activities at WSMR include the Hard Target Defeat Test bed (HTDT), Permanent High Explosive Test Site (PHETS), Seismic Hardrock In Situ Test site (SHIST), Alternate SHIST, and Large Blast/Thermal Simulator (LBTS).

Some conventional and advanced weapons effects tests evaluate the capabilities of warheads to penetrate different materials, such as soil, concrete and bedrock. Other tests determine a warhead's ability to suppress hardened tunnel targets. Counterterrorism tests examine protection of people and property against a terrorist attack. Collateral effects testing against mock WMD facilities uses simulants to gather data to model the dispersion of chemical, biological and radiological materials. These tests help reduce the effects that an attack on a WMD facility could cause on nearby areas.

Permanent High Explosive Test Site (PHETS)

PHETS is used for high explosive events and tests to evaluate the effectiveness of various weapon systems against hardened targets. Collateral effects resulting from the release of chemical and biological agents after target defeat is also evaluated at PHETS using simulants and taggants (materials used to track the path of simulant plumes through the air). Some DTRA test beds are used for static high explosive tests (detonating from a fixed position on the test bed). PHETS was created primarily to provide a location for conducting HE tests consisting of igniting above and below ground static charges. Proposed large-scale static HE tests (primarily using many tons of ammonium nitrate-fuel oil [ANFO]) would be designed to evaluate the survivability of military assets against simulated enemy nuclear blasts and to calibrate equipment used to verify compliance with the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974. Proposed small-scale tests would be conducted to obtain the explosive characteristics of various system components and require smaller quantities of explosives. Anti-terrorism tests would be conducted using a mock-up government building at PHETS to obtain survivability data after the detonation of simulated terrorist explosive devices or for examining the characteristics of various improvised explosive devices (IED).

Seismic Hardrock In Situ Test site (SHIST), Alternate SHIST

SHIST, and Alt. SHIST sites are used principally for bedrock (e.g., granite, diabase, shale, or limestone) penetration tests using various warhead types. A new limestone test bed would be established at Alt. SHIST. Weapons are typically air-delivered inert and live bombs, and projectiles launched from ground-based vehicles.

Hard Target Defeat Test bed (HTDT)

Capitol Peak HTD Test Bed was established to provide realistic hardened tunnel targets. These underground structures are excavated and recessed in bedrock and designed to simulate tunnels used to protect personnel and assets, including nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional weapons, from attack.

Large Blast/Thermal Simulator (LBTS)

LB/TS is an enclosed facility used to evaluate the survivability and vulnerability of full-scale military and other equipment subjected to the air blast and thermal conditions of an enemies simulated nuclearexplosion. The facility can also be used to simulate conventional explosive blast effects against building facades and military equipment.

Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'

Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:43:10 ZULU