Magnetic field signatures associated with a substorm onset event are examined by making use of simultaneous observations from the Active Magnetosphere Particle Tracer Explorer (AMPTE)/Charge Composition Explorer (CCE) and Spacecraft Charging AT High Altitude (SCATHA). The observations of the two satellites are discussed in relation to their differences and the relative positions of the satellites. Despite the small separation between the satellites, AMPTE/CCE observed the start of irregular magnetic field fluctuations a few tens of seconds earlier than SCATHA, indicating that the CCE was within, or closer to, the onset region. It was found that the amplitude of the fluctuations was largest in the north-south component. The results indicate that the magnetic field fluctuations were excited locally and the coherence length was less than a multiple of Larmor radius of thermal protons. It is suggested that the tail current disruption is described as a system of chaotic filamentary electric currents which flow in various directions, but preferentially anti-parallel to the cross-tail current, and that ions play an important role in the triggering of the tail current disruption.