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WTD 91

Below you can find detailed information about the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition in Meppen. Learn more about its tasks, responsibilities and organizational structure, get contact details and directions.

Mission of WTD 91

The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition (WTD 91) is the Bundeswehr technology center responsible for weapons and ammunition. With its premises of about 200 square kilometers, it is the largest fully instrumented ground firing range in Western Europe.

WTD 91 has the sole specialist competence within the entire armaments organization in the fields of ballistics, acoustics, optronics and meteorology. In addition, it is the project authority responsible for the entire specialized technology of the Bundeswehr GeoInformation Service (GeoInfoDBw).

WTD 91 belongs to the area of responsibility of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support. It is located in Meppen (Lower Saxony) and was founded in 1957.

Tasks

The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition conducts experiments and analyses as well as integrated compliance demonstrations in the framework of the Customer Product Management (CPMCustomer Product Management) procedure. WTD 91 also deals with research and technology projects and provides technical expertise for armament projects. The Center is responsible for technical support for all weapons and ammunition in use.

A semicircular metal frame arching over an area

The sensor-supporting measuring arch is used to measure vehicles from different aspect angles.

Bundeswehr/WTD 91-520

WTD 91 analyzes, tests and evaluates 

  • weapons and weapon systems,
  • ammunition of all types,
  • rockets,
  • missiles,
  • UAVs, 
  • acoustic devices,
  • optical and optronic intelligence and fire control instruments and 
  • meteorological and geodetic equipment. 

Another subject matter addressed by the Technical Center are protective shelters and structures as well as armored protection issues.

Competences

The variety of tasks of the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition requires specialist knowledge of weapon systems and their components and expertise regarding technologies and applied practices.

WTD 91 conducts fundamental ballistic studies relating to all aspects of guns, including effects and protection. It is responsible for measuring, analyzing and evaluating the ballistic parameters of all guns fielded or intended to be fielded in the Bundeswehr and of the pertaining ammunition. In order to do so, the Technical Center employs state-of-the-art measuring technology and draws on the expertise of its highly qualified specialist personnel.

In the field of internal ballistics, WTD 91 analyzes and evaluates the processes in the tube set in motion upon firing. The analysis and evaluation performed in the field of external ballistics, on the other hand, focuses on the flight dynamics of gun and airdropped ammunition as well as the aerodynamics of guided missiles.

The staff of WTD 91 determines the aerodynamic characteristics of projectiles, calculates the data for the fire control computer and prepares firing tables.

In order to ensure outer safety during firing, WTD 91 also identifies and determines the danger areas of guns, rockets and guided missiles, as well as the behavior of ricochets, that apply at firing ranges and major training areas.

In addition, the Technical Center performs investigations in the gun technology sector within the context of research and technology projects and cooperates with national and international#een companies and research institutions. 

The staff responsible for calibration within WTD 91 calibrates pressure measuring installations, special firing stands, weights and scales, performs comparison tests of measuring installations for internal and external ballistics and tests primers.

WTD 91 is certified in accordance with DINDeutschen Instituts für Normung e.V. ISO 9001:2000 and has access to the following pressure calibration installations:

  • piezoelectric and piezoresistive gage
  • measuring transducer
  • charge amplifier
  • calibrators
  • pressure gage

The pressure calibration installations of WTD 91 have been calibrated up to 10,000 bar by the Federal Standards Laboratory; the measurement uncertainty is 0.05% of the final measured value.

In order to uphold consistent standards, mobile ballistic inspection teams of WTD 91 check the internal#een and external ballistics measuring facilities of national and international#een contractors (companies) as part of development and delivery contracts for weapons and ammunition.

The Technical Center’s teaching staff for the handling of ammunition and explosives conducts training courses so as to provide others with expert knowledge and expertise. The Technical Center trains Bundeswehr personnel as well as members of the explosive ordnance disposal teams of the federal states, ordnance specialists of the police, persons responsible for identifying and defuzing explosives within the Military Counterintelligence Service and the Federal Criminal Police Office, including related agencies of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the federal states (GSG 9 and SEK), as well as employees of companies and institutes.

The tasks of WTD 91 also includes adjusting existing technologies to user capabilities, limits, requirements and other circumstances relating to the users. 

In order to do so, the Technical Center assigns to technical systems and humans tasks and functions that are geared towards the respective customer requirements. For this purpose, human-related evaluation methods and criteria as well as exposure limits are determined.

The different aspects examined by WTD 91 in this context include

  • Physical and operating strength
  • Human-machine interaction
  • Visual ranges
  • Lighting
  • Shock (mine protection, crash tests, recoil)
  • Biomechanics
  • Wound ballistics
  • Surrounding conditions (climate, dust, humidity)
  • Vibrations
  • Toxic substances
  • Operating and technical safety
  • Storage concepts and loading

As part of this work, WTD 91 measures, tests, simulates, evaluates and optimizes workplaces and workplace environment, operating procedures and the presentation of information as well as stresses and strains on the personnel. 

Mines are an increasing threat to soldiers on out-of-area missions, meaning Bundeswehr missions outside of Germany and the NATO territory. This is why mine clearance is becoming increasingly important.

WTD 91 specialists conduct experimental studies of mine clearing systems in close cooperation with the agency’s fuze lab.

The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition also deals with different aspects of acoustics. 

These range from the propagation of sound within buildings and in the open, including sound within structures and in rooms, and the assessment of appropriate noise protection measures to possible transmission paths for acoustic signals, including the underlying technology such as electroacoustic communication systems.

Particular attention is given to the effects of sound on the human organism and psyche.

This range of various tasks also includes the calibration of acoustic measuring and test equipment.

The technical staff of WTD 91 responsible for firing operations gives advice on the planning of firing and blast operations on the firing range. In doing so, it provides help in achieving the trial goals, scheduling and managing firing and blast operations and meeting the safety requirements.

The Technical Center’s staff regularly uses the following weapons and weapon systems during firing operations:

  • armored weapon systems
  • automatic cannons, small caliber
  • artillery weapons, large caliber
  • mortars
  • light antitank weapons
  • rockets
  • missiles 
  • UAVs

“Heavy guns” means weapons with a caliber of more than 75 millimeters, such as main battle tanks, artillery weapons, mortars and antiship guns or self-defense systems.

In this field, WTD 91 manages trials, tests components, inspects weapon systems on the basis of national and international#een performance requirements and conducts compatibility tests#een of system components in the case of upgrades and service life extensions.

In addition, the Technical Center analyzes special incidents and technical spot reports.

In order to be able to perform tests, inspections and damage predictions in the field of defense technology, WTD 91 employs simulations and simulation engineering and enhances them, if required. 

Simulations are used, for example, to prepare for tests on real objects. They also#een contribute to the improvement of safety and, by comparing actual measurement data with simulation#een results, make it possible to come up with more accurate statements regarding system behavior. This enables the Technical Center’s staff to provide calculations of ballistic trajectories while taking into account prevailing weather data and calculations of blast effects.

The work of WTD 91 in the field of simulation engineering also focuses on the creation of standards to interconnect distributed simulators and, if required, actual weapon components. Networking technology has great potential for the further development of weapon systems and is indispensable for network-enabled operations (NetOpFü) of the armed forces. 

Within the scope of material tests, WTD 91 performs trial-related examinations of materials and structures that require a lot of effort. This is done in order to determine the qualitative and quantitative composition of ammunition and weapon components. During metallographic and chemical analyses the staff uses grinding and polishing machines, wet cutting machines, diamond wire saws, hardness testing machines, microhardness testers und microscopes including image capturing devices. Also, special test sequences are performed.

Facilities

In order to perform its tasks, the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition can draw on a variety of equipment including mobile and stationary facilities. On principle, these facilities can also be used by external customers.

WTD 91 can make use, among other things, of the following facilities to carry out its tasks in the area of firing and blast operations:

  • six main and 21 single firing sites with a general maximum firing range of up to 26 km
  • three proof firing sites for material in which material, from plastic films and protection glass to equipment assemblies and entire battle tanks, can be subjected to firing and blast tests
  • eight walled-in firing sites for the testing of weapons up to a caliber of 155 mm
  • ten fully instrumented defilade firing positions for the testing of automatic cannons and pertaining ammunition for a maximum firing range of up to 600 m
  • five blast areas for a maximum permissible explosive weight of 1,000 kg of trinitrotoluene (TNT)
  • one indirect fire site for recovery firing (ammunition is subjected to the actual firing load and recovered for additional analysis)

If required, new firing positions can be set up on the entire premises of the Technical Center, either temporarily or permanently.

The infrastructure of WTD 91 consists of about 700 buildings and facilities (office buildings, firing sites, firing ranges, labs, workshops, hangars, ammunition storage bunkers, observation bunkers, etc.) located on 10,000 ha of government-owned property and 10,000 ha of leased property. This includes the airfield of the Technical Center as well as the “Turm Sandheim” measuring platform.

The grass runway of the airfield of WTD 91 is 630 m long and 60 m wide and can bear 5.7 tons. Light aircraft and helicopters can take off and land on the Technical Center’s airfield as well as on the adjacent helicopter landing site. The airspace above the premises of WTD 91 is a flight restriction area with the designation ED-R 34 A, B and C and can be used for firing and flight tests.

The Sandheim Tower was built in 1965 and, with its measuring platform, is an integral part of the safety, monitoring and measurement network of WTD 91. The tower is 60 meters high and has a diameter of 18.5 meters.

The explosives lab of WTD 91 is responsible for examining, characterizing and analyzing high explosives as well as initiating and igniting substances. This lab tests the thermal behavior and quality of such substances, for example, and investigates the stability and compatibility of particular explosive and ammunition materials.

The measurement network of WTD 91 is used for measuring projectile trajectories. Radar-based and optronic measuring systems both have different strengths and shortcomings, which is why they are combined at the Technical Center and interconnected via optical fiber and radio relay links to form the “radar-optronic measuring systems” measurement network.

The measurement network includes up to three radar sets, three EOTS-E type stationary cinetheodolites, one MSP-2000 multisensor platform and two mobile#encinetheodolites.

When real vehicles are not available, WTD 91 uses special test stands to perform trials relating to antitank mine protection. The tests include components and vehicle parts as well as entire ground structures under realistic blast conditions. This means that overtly or covertly placed blast mines, EFP mines and cylinders filled with explosives and serving as mines are detonated.

Apart from testing the effectiveness of mine protection setups and armored plates, the mine test stands also serve to determine the performance of different mines and in how far their placement matters, including and especially with regard to the soil conditions and the depth of burial.

WTD 91 has two mine test stands available

The mine protection simulator of WTD 91 can be used to simulate a vehicle (consisting of a test object and additional weights) and suspend it from chains; after the blast the vehicle can move in six degrees of freedom.

This way, the following information and measuring data can be obtained:

  • damage to the test object
  • acceleration measurements
  • high-speed recordings 
  • in case a dummy is used: probability of injury

The mine protection detonation table of WTD 91 is used to measure the total impulse transmitted from the fumes produced by explosives (and, in the case of covert mines, soil particles such as grains of sand) to the test object. The transmitted impulse determines the damage to the test object / the underside of the vehicle.

This way, the following information and measuring data can be obtained:

  • damage to the test object
  • total impulse 
  • acceleration and/or strain on the test object and the frame
  • distance-time curve and velocity-time curve of the resulting deformation. The result is an indirect measure for the specific impulse. 

WTD 91 uses various mobile measuring and recording instruments for the following applications:

  • surface weather measurement at firing sites and target areas
  • wind component measurement at several positions along the projectile trajectories 
  • cloud genus, cloud amount, present weather, wind estimation and visibility estimation
  • climate measurements in buildings, vehicles, shelters and tents
  • support of and participation in meteorological measurement campaigns of universities, technical universities and institutes
  • mobile measurements of weather at high altitudes

The national inspection authority for infantry weapon ammunition is a complex, NATO-certified facility of WTD 91. It is equipped with firing ranges, extensive ballistic measuring technology, experienced specialist personnel and an armory in which all types of NATO small-arms and handguns as well as test barrels are available. 

As part of the tests, the interchangeability and standardization of 9 mm, 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm caliber live ammunition from the different NATO partner nations is demonstrated at the Technical Center.

The duties of the inspection authority also include specialized technical tests on ammunition for hand-held and automatic weapons of a small and medium caliber. In addition, it provides support for studies and research and technology activities and performs ammunition surveillance. 
In order to do so, the inspection authority records and evaluates the following ballistic parameters, among others:

  • projectile velocity
  • shot patterns
  • time of flight
  • safe arming distance
  • response sensitivity
  • travel time (fuze self-destruction)
  • tracer
  • rate of fire
  • firings at ballistic gelatin

WTD 91 is equipped with a 830 m long rocket sled track, which can be used, for example, to accelerate large-caliber warheads up to operational velocity levels against targets. In general, the propulsion is supplied by fielded engines of rocket weapon systems. The rocket sled track can be used to accelerate objects weighing between 500 kg and about 1,500 kg to twice the speed of sound.

The Technical Center’s environmental simulation center can draw on the following facilities to simulate various environment conditions:

  • precipitation simulator
  • sand and dust chamber
  • solar simulator
  • hypobaric chamber
  • vibration test stand#en 

The lasers to be fielded in the Bundeswehr must be categorized into hazard classes. For this purpose, WTD 91 uses its laser lab and 100 m measuring tunnel to gather various laser data. According to DINDeutschen Instituts für Normung e.V. EN 80625-1, the following laser information must be obtained: irradiation, irradiance, observation angle, pulse duration and pulse energy, pulse pattern and pulse-repetition frequency as well as power, beam divergence, beam diameter and beam shape. The safety requirements and markings are tested, as well.

However, WTD 91 does not only gather the laser data required for classification but also performs system engineering tests.

History of WTD 91

In 1876, the Alfred Krupp company built a firing range north of the small town of Meppen, Lower Saxony. Apart from a break of several years after World War I, it was used up to 1944 to develop and test#een gun batteries and cannons of all types and calibers. After World War II had ended in 1945, the remaining test facilities were destroyed and disassembled.

The Federal Republic of Germany took over the premises in 1957 and founded the “Erprobungsstelle für Waffen und Munition” (Proving Ground for Weapons and Ammunition), which was renamed to its current name of Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition (WTD 91) in 1987. The premises today extend over an area that is 30 km long and five to seven kilometers wide. Its total area is about 192 km². 

A natural reserve was established on the premises of WTD 91 in 1986. The so-called “Tinner Dose” is a raised bog unique in Northern Europe and the home of an ecologically rich flora and fauna. It extends over an area of 3,200 ha.

In November 2000 a quality management system was introduced, and WTD 91 was certified in accordance with DINDeutschen Instituts für Normung e.V. ISO 9001:2000. This high quality standard#een was confirmed and recertified in 2003.

Organizational Structure of WTD 91

The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition is organized into a Staff element, four divisions, an Engineering/Operational Services element and an Economic/Administrative Services element.

The Staff element assists the Director of WTD 91 in fulfilling his responsibilities. It provides control elements in terms of business economics, grouped together under the headings of Controlling, Scheduling of Work and Cost & Performance Responsibility.

The operational functions of the Technical Center are performed by branches as sub-elements of the divisions. The branches mainly carry out specialist trial-related tasks and research & technology projects.

The workshops, the ammunition arsenal, the operational services and protection services as well as the teaching staff for ammunition all form a part of the Engineering/Operational Services element of WTD 91. The administrative services are grouped together in the Economic/Administrative Services element#een.

Details on the organizational structure of the Technical Center can be found in the organizational chart.

Personnel Structure of WTD 91

The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition currently employs a staff of about 700. Roughly 25% are scientists or engineers of different fields. 

The background of the Technical Center’s highly qualified staff is in various fields, such as mechanical engineering, physics, electrical engineering and electronics, computer science and information technology, chemistry, aerospace engineering and geodesy. With the state-of-the-art technical equipment available to them, the staff of WTD 91 ensures that the Center’s tasks are fulfilled in a competent manner. This makes this agency a capable partner for technical expertise and analyses.

In addition, the Bundeswehr Technical Center offers almost 30 occupational training positions in the areas of chemistry, photography, industrial mechanics, mechatronics, carpentry and electronics for devices and systems.

  • 700 Staff members

  • davon 25 % of them scientific specialist personnel

  • ca. 30 occupational training positions

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How to find us

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Coming in from a southern or western direction, take federal motorway A 30 or A 31 (Bundesautobahn) until you reach the Meppen exit. Take the exit and follow federal road B 402 (Bundesstraße) to Meppen. In Meppen, follow the signs to “Wehrtechnische Dienststelle”.

Coming in from a northern or northwestern direction, take federal motorway A 1 until you reach the Cloppenburg exit. Take the exit and follow federal road B 72 and B 213 towards Lingen until you reach Haselünne. Then turn onto federal road B 402 to Meppen. In Meppen, follow the signs to “Wehrtechnische Dienststelle”.

On weekdays, trains from Münster and Emden leave for Meppen railway station at least every hour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

From the railway station you can take a taxi or walk to WTD 91, which will take you 5 minutes or 25 minutes, respectively.

WTD 91 is not connected to regular public transport. Official visitors will be picked up at the railway station#een by motor pool and will be taken there as well.

Motor#een Pool: 
Phone: +49 59 31 43-2444 

You can take regular flights to Münster/Osnabrück, Bremen or Düsseldorf airport or, when taking an international flight, to Amsterdam-Schiphol to get to WTD 91.

How to contact WTD 91

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