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Facilities

There are three test ranges:

  • NATO FORACS AUTEC (NFA) West Palm Beach, Florida (USA) and Andros, Island
  • NATO FORACS Greece (NFG) near Souda Bay, Crete, (Greece)
  • NATO FORACS Norway (NFN) near Stavanger, (Norway)

These ranges provide an accurate, unbiased, independent measurement of sensor accuracy under test conditions that closely approximate each sensor's operating environment, in order to satisfy national requirements and to meet NATO material readiness standards. 

Test operations at NATO FORACS ranges determine the accuracy of shipboard navigational equipment, acoustic and electromagnetic sensors which detect, locate, classify and/or track targets. The NATO FORACS ranges have complete test instrumentation and personnel to verify the operability and accuracy of:

Sensors

  • sonar *
  • search, fire control, and navigation radar *
  • electronic surveillance (ESM and RDF) **
  • electro-optic sensors (laser and IR) *
  • periscopes and peloruses *
  • other optical equipment *

Navigational equipment

  • inertial navigation systems *
  • gyrocompasses *
  • global positioning systems (GPS) *
  • electromagnetic and Doppler logs *

Other

  • communication checks - antenna radiation tests - tactical turns (maneuvering characteristics) *
  • Operational Confidence Capability Checks (OC3)
  • tactical data link testing Link 11(LETS 2009) *

Key:    * Can be included in a deployed test.   
         
** Limited in a deployed test.

Sensor accuracy test results are presented in terms of sensor range and bearing errors for most modes of sensor operation and sensor/target aspects. Navigational equipment is tested for correct alignment, operability and accuracy.

At this time, weapons accuracy is not tested at NATO FORACS ranges, but these capabilities may be tested at other facilities, which may be located in the local area of the NATO FORACS ranges. For example: AUTEC for underwater weapons testing, and NAMFI near Souda Bay for missile testing. Various ship signatures may also be tested at nearby national range assets.

A recent introduction to the FORACS inventory is the Operational Command Confidence Check (OC3), designed to provide a menu-driven, operational-task specific check of ship sensor performance for deployed assets. The OC3 will also provide a measure of operator training in the execution of the sensor tests against realistic targets, i.e. fast attack aircraft and boats.

As a result of the FORACS test capability:

  • Ships, submarines and maritime aircraft are provided a measure of sensor and operator performance and a measure of the quality of maintenance performed by shipboard personnel.
  • Operational commands are provided a measure of fleet readiness and a measure of the quality of work performed by installation and repair facilities.
  • Material and In-service engineering commands are able to assess sensor accuracy by specific type and class to determine if design requirements have been met.
  • NATO is provided an assurance of interoperability and asset readiness by virtue of common equipment, procedures and facilities to provide quantitative and repeatable measures of combat system performance.
  • Significantly aides interoperability by improving alignment and accuracy (both spatial and temporal) of sensor suites.