Redstone Arsenal is located near the city of Huntsville in Alabama, US. It was established in 1941 during World War II, mainly to serve as a chemical weapons producing centre.
Spread over 38,400 acres of land, the base serves as the centre for the US Army’s missile and rocket programmes. It also facilitates other defence forces to carry out training and testing.
The US Army chose Redstone Arsenal to consolidate the rocket programme, as the area is endowed with large vacant spaces and empty buildings, and it is well connected through road and rail.
Redstone Arsenal history
The base was established to mobilise military force during World War II. The US Army acquired 1,250 acres of land from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), agreeing to use it for military purposes. More than 550 families were displaced, most of them being sharecroppers and tenants. The base obtained the name Redstone, because of the predominance of red soil in the land.
The military installations initially comprised three entities, Huntsville Arsenal, Huntsville Depot and Redstone Ordnance Plant. All three were consolidated into Redstone Arsenal in 1949.
After World War II, Redstone was put on a standby status. In June 1949, the base was given command responsibilities and designated an ordinance rocket centre.
As a chemical weapons manufacturing facility, the base was used for producing chemical shells ranging from 77mm to 30lb and l00lb chemical bursters and bombs.
A large portion of the chemical artillery used by the US Army was produced at Redstone by 1955. More than 38,700,000 full rounds of chemical artillery ammunition were produced in the base during 1951-1956.
The Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) was opened at Redstone Arsenal in 1956, and was placed under new Army Ordnance Missile Command (AOMC) in 1958. In 1960, a portion of ABMA was leased to Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and named the George C Marshall Space Flight Center.
The Redstone rocket test stand was constructed in 1953, and Nasa also built the solid rocket motor propulsion and structural test facility and other structures.
In 2005, as a result of the base realignment and closure (BRAC) recommendations, the US Department of Defense (DoD) recommended the relocation the 2nd Recruitment Brigade to Redstone Arsenal by closing Fort Gillem.
The DoD reasoned that the transfer of the units to Redstone would increase their ability to associate with similar units. Moreover, Redstone Arsenal located at the centre of the southeastern region of Huntsville, has good transportation facilities.
The base is home to the US Army Aviation and Missile LCMC (Lifecycle Management Command), AMRDEC (Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Centre), the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Army Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School (OMEMS), the US Army SMDC (Space and Missile Defense Command) and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
The US Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) was established in Redstone in July 1997 and assumed the operational command in 1998. Aviation and Missile Lifecycle Management Command (LCMC) was established in 2004. Later both LCMC and AMCOM were brought under a single command.
The LCMC and AMRDEC conduct research on advanced missile developments and provide life-cycle engineering support to war fighters.
The mission of the US Army Corps of Engineers is to support the ballistic missile defence and chemical demilitarisation.
The US Army OMEMS is headquartered at Redstone, with its team comprising more than 970 civilian and military trainers.
The team conducts about 87 courses of instruction and trains more than 6,000 soldiers a year. OMEMS is engaged in training the civilian public safety personnel to become expert bomb technicians. The training also enables them to respond to attacks with weapons of mass destruction.
The US army SMDC conducts space and missile planning, integration and control operations. The unit also conducts mission-related research and development. The Missile Defense Agency
(MDA) develops the ballistic missile defence system (BMDS) to ensure the successful integration of BMDS architecture.
Commands at Redstone Arsenal
Redstone Arsenal facilitates the 2nd Recruiting Brigade, Army Materiel Command, US Army Security Assistance Command, Space and Missile Defense Command and Missile Defense Agency, Rotary Wing Air Platform, Army Redstone Test Center, Army Contracting Command, Program Executive Office, Logistics Support Activity, and the Aviation Technical Test Centre among others.
Protection and security The base at Redstone provides with personnel security, vehicle registration and badging, and physical security. The installation’s Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) takes the control of daily operations.
Redstone has a military airport near the city of Huntsville, which was originally constructed for the 6th American Air Filter (AAF) base unit to carry out munitions testing. The airfield is now being used by Nasa and the Army Aviation and Missile Command (AAMC), and for other flying activities.
The airfield also serves as a refuelling stop for the US military services. The runway of the airfield can accommodate any type of military aircraft to land and take-off. It can also facilitate large passenger and cargo flights landing. The Redstone airfield serves the AO1C Mohawk turboprop reconnaissance plane, the C-124 cargo plane and the air force’s C-5A Galaxy.
Raytheon Redstone missile integration facility
Raytheon Missile Systems built a $75m sophisticated missile production facility on Redstone Arsenal. Opened in January 2013, the 70,000ft2 Raytheon Redstone missile integration facility assembles Standard Missile-3 and Standard Missile-6 missiles and tests their standards.