Redstone Test Center gets new capabilities - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Redstone Test Center gets new capabilities

(Source: WAFF Staff) (Source: WAFF Staff)
(Source: WAFF Staff) (Source: WAFF Staff)

One of the organizations on Redstone Arsenal, Redstone Test Center (RTC), now holds a very special title that gives it brand new capabilities only found there.

The RTC testing facility recently became the only AIMS certified testing facility in the country. Dodi Walker, an RTC flight test engineer, is at the center of it all.

“Yes, it was my baby, so to speak,” said Walker.

She started working for RTC seven years ago, and her first year on the job, the idea of helping RTC become AIMS certified popped into her head.

“I thought it was something I could take on. I said I think I’ve got an idea on how we can solve this problem, close this gap. So I set out to work that issue,” remembered Walker.

AIMS stands for Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System, Identification Friend or Foe, Mark XII/Mark XIIA, Systems.

It’s a way for the military to help govern the skies. It’s the equivalent for what the FAA does to keep an eye on civilian aircraft.

“Each aircraft has a trans-ponding system on board. That is a tiny box, where the aircraft is… by sending that back to the radars on the ground and air traffic control. Very important system from keeping planes from colliding,” explained Walker.

It also helps keep our soldiers out of enemy hands.

“If they’re flying in a hostile environment, having a certified trans-ponding system on board will ensure they stay safe and they can easily identify the other friendlies in the area,” said Walker.

For RTC, to be AIMS certified means, it will be the only testing location in the country facility in the country for flight testing to the minimum standards and interoperability of aircraft identification systems.

“They really like our processes and procedures. It’s top of the line,” said Walker.

For the Tennessee Valley and Redstone, itself, with this new capability, Walker believes it’s guaranteed to bring in new business, new people to the area, and also help our loved ones in the military.

“The biggest benefit will be to the warfighter. Airspace surveillance and the ability to readily identify your friendly in the air, all important to keeping our warfighters safe,” said Walker.

She says her biggest pride is in accomplishing something that brought so many challenges.

“There’s been an incredible amount of ups and downs. An incredible amount of adversity that’s been encountered from different directions. It’s been a very solo effort for most of the journey. It’s taken a lot of perseverance and stubbornness to accomplish such a difficult objective. There’s a lot of personal satisfaction in achieving something you’ve worked so hard for against all odds. At times it seems like almost the world is against you. There is a lot of satisfaction working through all that and coming through the other side and say, ‘whew, made it!’ explained Walker.

Now, with the help of her supervisor, Walker prepares for the future of being AIMS certified at RTC.

“Now, that we’ve spent 6 years trying to get this paper with this gold stamp on it. Wow, we’ve done it now to ‘oh wow, now look at what I have to take care of.’ All the work is going to come in and we need to prepare ourselves to deal with that. Posture ourselves to be able to handle the new business coming our way,” said Walker.

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