• About USATA

    The U.S. Army Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment Activity (USATA) has the primary organizational responsibility of performing the test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment (TMDE) calibration and repair support mission (C&RS) for the Army, other DOD claimants, and thousands of industrial based customers. USATA ensures measurements made with TMDE are traceable to national, international, or intrinsic standards of measurement. USATA’s TMDE C&RS mission is the keystone of the Army diagnostic and maintenance program. We assure TMDE reliability by ensuring accurate interval setting. We perform this mission with a team of nearly 600 professionals stationed at 47 different TMDE support activities strategically located around the globe. Our Philosophy – We will provide professional, comprehensive metrology and calibration support, with a focus on quality, cost, innovation, and the CUSTOMER.

  • Need for Calibration

    It’s not uncommon for consumers to drive across town to a fuel station that offers gas for a penny less per gallon than the convenient mart closer to home. It’s a trip we’ve all taken, trying to get the best deal possible. But were you getting your money’s worth?

    Many consumer products are priced against a unit of measure. Gas is sold by the gallon, meat by the pound, and flooring by the square foot. How can you be sure that 10 gallons are going into your tank unless the pumps are checked periodically? They are. Your State’s Division of Weights and Measures uses a calibrated can confirmed to hold an exact 5 gallons. Those cans are used at each gas pump throughout the state to verify the pump dispenses an amount equal to what’s on the display. If the amounts don’t match, the technician will make adjustments or deem the pump unfit for consumer use. The next time you’re at the pump, take a look on the front panel for a state decal that confirms a qualified technician has stopped by in the past year to calibrate it.

    The list of examples is long, since so many measuring instruments tend to drift with time and use. From the scale at the post office to the one in your bathroom; the multimeter used by a mechanic to the torque wrench in your garage; the need for calibration is enduring.

    The Army ensures its weapon systems operate safely and properly through routine calibration of its Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment. Calibration of an attack helicopter’s flight instrumentation ensures the aircraft navigates properly, while calibration of its targeting system guarantees the pilots will hit their mark. Likewise, an automotive mechanic using properly calibrated test and measuring equipment can accurately diagnose problems and conduct maintenance to specified tolerances.

  • USATA is nested with the Army, AMC and AMCOM Strategic Priorities of People, Modernization and Readiness to achieve excellence in current and future force sustainment through Calibration and Repair Support.

    Strategic Priorities

    People: Acquire, develop, retain & employ a ready, professional, diverse & integrated workforce that reduces talent gaps & increases overall USATA & Army readiness

    Future Force: Position USATA to support & sustain TMDE C&RS readiness in support of Army 2030 and deliver /design future C&RS sustainment practices in support of Army 2040 and operations in a contested logistics environment

    Sustainable Materiel Readiness: Ensure USATA’s systems, processes, technology & facilities support the readiness of the Industrial Base, Operating forces & Generating forces’ current & future metrology & TMDE C&RS requirements

  • History

    Metrology and Calibration

    Metrology is defined as the science of measurement and is derived from the Greek word “metron” meaning “to measure”. Measurement is one of the oldest of the sciences. The rise of man from his primitive state to modern civilization seems to be directly related to his capability to measure. One example of measurement by the ancient Babylonians (before 3000 BC), and still used today, is the system of measuring time.

    The basis of all science is the ability to measure accurately. Lord Kelvin, a 19th century British physicist, stated, “If you can measure something and express it in numbers, you know quite a bit about it. If you cannot measure it, or express it in numbers, you know very little about it.” Calibration can be defined as using metrology in practical applications or, simply, the act of comparing a measuring instrument of unverified accuracy to a measuring instrument (commonly called a standard) of known and greater accuracy to detect and correct any error in the unverified instrument.

    As civilization progressed, all civilized nations recognized the need for establishing standard units of measure. During the International Metric Convention held in May of 1875, a treaty was signed by all participating nations providing for the establishment of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures.

    With the signing of the Metric Convention Treaty and the advent of mass production, the railroads and leading manufacturers in the United States recognized the need for national measurement standards. However, it was not until 1901 that the United States Congress realized that national measurement standardization was essential to the industrial growth of the country. Congress then established the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) to provide the nation with one legal set of measurement standards.

    Because of the type of equipment used, this country went through two world wars with little or no problem in precision measurements. However, at the end of World War II, the Army began to experience difficulty in the maintenance of its electronic equipment. During the Korean War, the problem became even greater. Few people associated the problems with standardization and calibration. In many fields, the tolerances were more stringent than they should have been, but the two offset each other to give what appeared to be adequate weapon systems.

    After the problems of maintaining equipment during the Korea War became apparent, the Army Maintenance Board made a survey of calibration problems in the maintenance program. The deficiencies found were alarming and, in a large part, absurd. For instance, gasoline engines were sent back to the United States from Korea for major rebuild because of low compression when, later it was determine, there was nothing wrong with the engines. The compression gages used to check the engines had not been calibrated since being procured by the Army.

    With the advent of guided missiles, rockets, and sophisticated electronic systems, serious problems arose because the measurement of one manufacturer or maintenance activity would not agree with those of another, even though identical tests were performed. The tendency was to write off this inconsistency of measurement as a variation of the item under test. In reality, a large portion of the inconsistency was because the equipment performing the measurement was not calibrated. This resulted in degradation of missile system reliability. The Army then realized that to sustain missile or rocket system reliability, standards and supporting test equipment must be maintained at required specifications based on NBS measurement standards. A system for controlled standardization measurement was critically needed, and in 1954 the Army established a metrology and calibration system traceable to NBS. Thus, the Army Calibration Program was born. The system was designed to provide compatibility and assure the accuracy and reproducibility of measurement performed in all life cycle phases of Army materiel.