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Central Technical Support Facility

Central Technical Support Facility

A pyramidal structure featuring the CTSF logos.

The mission of the Central Technical Support Facility (CTSF) is enterprise level system-of-systems integration and interoperability for Army LandWarNet/Battle Command (LWN/BC) systems for delivery of capabilities to the Warfighter. Core missions include SoS integration support to ASA(ALT), network integration expertise, Army interoperability Certification (AIC), and Configuration Management of multiple (future, fielding, fielded) LandWarNet Software Baselines. Integration and testing efforts at the CTSF are also focused on integration of the Army systems with the Army's Joint and Coalition partners.

The facility is 250k sq ft (41k sq ft instrumented testing and integration) in 30 temporary buildings on Fort Hood, TX. The core staff is 238 people, plus the CTSF houses 453 personnel. Support Mission activities at the CTSF provided by PEOs, PMs, PdMs are: LWN Data Product Development, LWN Systems Training for Warfighters, C5ISR Software Development, Digital System Engineer Base of Support, Single Interface to the Field - Support Operations Center (SOC) That provides 24/7/365 support to the Warfighters.

Current CTSF capabilities are the product of more than a decade of Army investment in people, processes, assets, and relationships/partnerships.

Overview

The Central Technical Support Facility (CTSF) provides a unique, innovative, and scalable environment, with skilled and dedicated personnel, using qualified synergistic processes to support the network-enabled strategic vision of the Department of Defense (DOD) by executing configuration management, systems engineering support, and interoperability certification testing for US Army and Joint command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C5I) providers. The CTSF-FO is located in trailer 11 of the CTSF compound, Fort Hood, Texas; with contractor personnel located in trailer 12. The US Army Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) supports continuous testing of Army command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems at the CTSF. EPG works independently supporting program managers (PMs) with customer tests and developmental testing. EPG also supports the US Army Operational Test Command (OTC) on operational test events.

CTSF Test Floor

The Army Interoperability Certification (AIC) and Interoperability Capabilities and Limitations Assessment (IC&L) testing are conducted at the CTSF with the support of 70 EPG government and contract personnel. EPG’s close involvement in the CTSF ensures that instrumentation products such as the C5ISR Test Toolkit (CTTK) are exercised and with emerging C5ISR systems. The CTTK is made ready for future tests with little additional development required. The CTSF test floor provides US Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) testers the opportunity to collaborate early in the testing process with the PMs and their contractors, test with PM systems, and gain hands-on experience and understanding of battle scenarios, vignettes, and message threads. Support provided to CTSF by EPG personnel and contractors includes: test planning, execution, reporting, technical writing, technical support, test and field engineering, operational research systems analysis (ORSA), test certification, instrumentation, data collection and analysis, computer analysts, administrative, logistics, management, and quality management (QM). Types of testing performed include: AIC, Joint testing, data product testing, customer tests, IC&L, Information Assurance Network Assessment (IANA), AIC regression testing, and out-of-cycle AIC testing.

Fort Hood Field Tests

EPG provides personnel, instrumentation, and technical expertise to support PM and OTC field tests that are tied into, and use, assets at the CTSF. These tests link CTSF test floors to PM labs, OTC labs and Fort Hood downrange sites. Personnel and assets from EPG, Fort Huachuca, Arizona are leveraged upon to supplement test event support requirements.

Customers:

The primary customer for CTSF is Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA) staff including Chief Information Officer (CIO)/G6, G3, and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT). The personnel at CTSF have supported all Software Blocking (SWB) PMs, from PM Aviation (AVN), to PM Global Command and Control System (GCCS), to PM Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). Customers generally supported include PM Battle Command (BC), PM LOG-EIS, and PMs for Intel systems. All customers come to the CTSF for a venue to accomplish their test-fix-test (TFT) and risk reduction test (RRT) events prior to undergoing the AIC required for their systems to become a part of the SWB program.

Facility:

The CTSF is owned, operated and funded by the US Army Material Command (AMC) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC). The CTSF compound is a 250,000 square foot (ft2) facility with 41,000 ft2 dedicated to instrument testing and integration. The compound consists of trailers housing the following:

  • Various PMs and product managers (PdMs)
  • A 24-hour onsite C5ISR support operations center
  • Secure facilities
  • Office space
  • Configuration management
  • Information technology support
  • Conference rooms
  • Information assurance and network operations
  • Major test floors, the heart of the CTSF AIC

The test floors are configured with a Nonsecure Internet Protocol Routing (NIPR) network, Secure Internet Protocol Routing (SIPR) network, Defense Research Engineering Network (DREN), Secret Defense Research Engineering Network (SDREN), Joint Network Node (JNN), tactical radios, two Blue Force Tracking (BFT) Network Operation Centers (NOCs), and commercial lines. The test floor architecture is reconfigurable from corps to battalion level. In addition, the compound contains a ground/aviation platform test pad, more than 1,200 Warfighting information systems boxes, and over 75 PM/PdM platforms. The CTSF is co-located with digital cable fabrication and motor pool facilities across the street.

Key Staff:

The EPG test cell has evolved over time from four people to seventy people today. Some have been with the CTSF since its inception in 1997. The increase in personnel began during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), when EPG began hiring contractor operators to support its efforts. EPG’s role continues to grow and today they perform the majority of test officer and test operator roles within the CTSF. The government team includes a program manager specialist with over 20 experience in testing C5I, and a computer scientist with over 10 years experience in testing and instrumentation development. The contractor support team consists of 21 test officers, 4 ORSAs, 2 QM personnel, 1 database manager, 1 technical writer, 3 instrumentation technicians, 3 data reduction technicians, and 33 computer operators. All government and contractor personnel assigned to work at the CTSF are full-time employees.

CTSF-FO Dependencies:

  1. TRADOC community approved mission threads: TRADOC Capabilities Manager (TCM) submits these threads to the Combined Arms Center (CAC) Capability Development & Integration Directorate (CDID) for System of Systems (SOS) coordination. After community approval, the threads go to TRAC where they are put into STARGEN exercises and narratives. STARGEN threads are then published to Army Knowledge Online (AKO) for the CTSF to download. Test officers create master test cases and event test cases from the threads. These test cases are used on the CTSF test floor to execute and collect data.
  2. Fort Hood Fixed Tactical Internet (FTI): The Fort Hood FTI is a radio network using Utilicom and Sectorial antennas. The purpose of the FTI is data collection and instrumentation monitoring of systems under test used throughout the Fort Hood tactical training areas. We have nine antenna locations which are geographically dispersed across the 329 square miles of Fort Hood. This facilitates monitoring of the instrumentation network and data collection harvesting, which reduces manpower and other resources. This also provides a real-time monitoring of systems under test. These assets have been used for testing of JNN, Army Battle Command System (ABCS) 6.4, Joint Capabilities Release (JCR), and Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2).
  3. Open-Air Range, Fort Hood, Texas: Used for range and communications testing of systems requiring tactical distances up to 35 kilometers.
  4. Electromagnetic Environment Test Facility (EMETF): Instrumentation development and validation and verification (V&V) activities are performed by the developers at the EMETF in the associated production labs, prior to release to the CS&N to support test events. CS&N relies heavily on the ability of the engineering team within the EMETF to design and develop prototypes and finished products for timing, source, and alarm products.
  5. Environmental Test Facility (ETF): Provides customers the ability to do environmental testing on their systems. Some possible tests include explosive atmosphere, solar effects, water immersion, blowing dust, rain and wind, blowing sand, dripping water, rapid decompression, ballistic shock, vibration, temperature, and fungus.
  6. GPS Tactical Navigation Testbed (GPSTB): Supplements CS&N capabilities with refined receiver testing with external sensor stimulation.