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Yuma Proving Ground and Barry Goldwater Complex

Yuma Proving Ground

A Stryker combat vehicle undergoes performance testing on one of Yuma Proving Ground's 240 miles of road courses.There are 3 major ranges located at Yuma Test Center. Each range allows for a unique set of testing environments as well as hosts various weapon-specific testing areas.

1,300 square miles in size, the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) is one of the largest military installations in the western world. Its mission is to ensure the success and dependability of weapon systems and munitions used by American military forces. The proving ground’s test and development facilities are capable of testing nearly everything in the Army’s combat arsenal, from main battle tanks and artillery pieces to unmanned aircraft, parachute systems and technologies that defeat roadside bombs.

The proving ground’s workforce is a thoroughly integrated team. Almost 2,800 people, the vast majority of whom are civilian and reside in Yuma, conduct 100 tests each day, with the full knowledge that America’s men and women in uniform are the proving ground’s ultimate customers.

Yuma Proving Ground’s history goes back to 1943. Today, the proving ground is the busiest Army test center in the nation.

Test Capabilities

National Guard Soldiers train amid realistic structures at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground before departing overseas.NASA has conducted numerous parachute drops at Yuma Proving Ground for many years and plans to continue in the future.  Current tests are taking place for the multiple parachutes that will be used when the Orion spacecraft being designed now re-enters the earth atmosphere and descends to a safe landing.

Yuma Proving Ground features one of the longest overland artillery ranges (40 miles) in the nation, the most highly instrumented helicopter armament test range in the Department of Defense, over 200 miles of improved road courses for testing tracked and wheeled vehicles, over 1,000 miles of fiber-optic cable linking test locations, the most modern mine test facility in the western hemisphere, and simulated overseas urban areas specifically constructed to defeat the threat of improvised explosive devices.

Yuma Proving Ground is the busiest test location within the Army for testing unmanned aircraft systems (UAV/UAS). Six airfields are located at the proving ground, with extensive UAV and UAS testing offered through restricted airspace over a variety of terrain conditions, from gentle valleys to craggy peaks. 

YPG's testers have the expertise to accommodate every phase of the developmental process: "We have the infrastructure here to easily move from testing one level of platform maturity to another," said Pat Franklin, a test director for YPG's Aviation Systems Branch. "It's good synergy for the private industry customer."

NASA has taken advantage of the proving ground’s parachute expertise for many years by frequently testing parachute systems for space capsules. Friendly overseas nations also have conducted tests at the proving ground—Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and others.

The AH-64 Apache helicopter, developed by Boeing, underwent all development testing in Yuma, and continues to be a frequent visitor today. Over 100,000 desert testing miles were put on the M-1 Abrams tank during its development cycle, with another 36,000 grueling road miles put on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Barry M. Goldwater Complex

Airmen from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona and Camp Murray, Washington traveled to Luke AFB for some "real" practice on the Barry Goldwater Complex.

The Barry M. Goldwater Complex is a vast training range for U.S. and allied pilots. The range consists of 1.9 million acres of relatively undisturbed Sonoran Desert southwest of Luke Air Force Base between Yuma and Tucson south of Interstate 8. Overhead are 57,000 cubic miles of airspace where pilots practice air-to-air maneuvers and engage simulated battlefield targets on the ground. Roughly the size of Connecticut, the immense size of the complex allows for simultaneous training activities on nine air-to-ground and two air-to-air ranges. The Luke Air Force Base Range Management Office manages the eastern range activities and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma oversees operations on the western portion.

More than 50 aircrews and aircraft can simultaneously operate on the range while performing many independent training missions. The range complex is the nation’s second largest military reservation and has been used by military pilots since September 1941. The range complex is not a permanent military reservation—Congress periodically approves the land to be withdrawn from normal public uses, such as mining, ranching, farming and agriculture, since these activities are incompatible with the military mission.

Read more about AZ's Military Installations
 Davis-Monthan and Luke Air Force Bases. Read more.
Air Force Bases
U.S. Army: Fort Huachuca. Read more.
Air National Guard: Fighter Pilot Training. Read more.
National Guard
U.S. Marine Corps: Yuma Marine Corps Air Station. Read more
Marine Corps

History and Development

The range was initially established in the fall of 1941 to support the Army Air Forces flying training programs at Luke Field (Luke Air Force Base after 1950) and Williams Field (Williams Air Force Base after 1947). The first parcel of land selected for the range had three key characteristics critical to its intended mission. First, the new range was in close flying proximity to Luke and Williams fields (straight line flying distances of about 52 and 69 miles, respectively). Second, except for some scattered ranches and mines, the land was uninhabited and undeveloped. Third, at 1,684 square miles (1,077,500 acres), the initial range tract was large enough to be subdivided into several separate training areas that could safely support several simultaneous but independent training missions, which added significantly to the productivity of the overall training program.

Although the initial range was expansive, land continued to be added to provide training capacity to produce qualified aircrews for the Nation's war effort. The complex expanded to a total of 4,339 square miles (2,776,968 acres) during the World War II era.  In November 1942 and March 1943 lands were added to the western part of the range to support flight training programs at Yuma Army Air Base, which opened for operations on 29 June 1942 as a training command separate from those at Luke and Williams fields. By the end of 1942, the eastern and western range components were known as the "Gila Bend Gunnery Range" and "Yuma Aerial Gunnery and Bombing Range," respectively, and this east-west split of range resources continues today. The BMGR has had a number of official and unofficial names, including: Ajo-Gila Bend Aerial Gunnery RangeWilliams Bombing and Gunnery RangeLuke-Williams Bombing and Gunnery Range; and, from 1963 to 1986, Luke Air Force Range. It was officially renamed the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range with the passage of the MLWA of 1986. Barry M. Goldwater Range East and Barry M. Goldwater Range West became the designated names of the segments managed by the Air Force and Marine Corps, respectively, in 1999.