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The US Army’s Crusader Advanced Field Artillery System, a 155-mm self-propelled howitzer, test-firing at the Yuma Proving Ground. (Photo by US Army/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Assuring Weapons & Munitions

Do Not Fail By Romi Carrell Wittman

For most Tucsonans, Yuma is just a single hot stop on the long drive to the cool beaches of San Diego. But if you look past the miles of farmland, the gas stations and fast food restaurants that cling to the Interstate, you’ll find one of the largest military installations in the world. “There are five major military installations in Arizona,” said Charles C. Wullenjohn, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. “The least known is Yuma Proving Ground. We’re a half-hour drive outside of Yuma and most people don’t have a clear picture of what we do. But our job is very, very important.” The vast majority of military installations exist to train personnel and ready them for combat. This one has a different primary mission – to test munitions

and other equipment to ensure they function properly in the field. Though no statistics exist, such testing prevents injuries and saves the lives of untold number of American servicemen and women. Larger than the state of Rhode Island, the proving ground conducts a multitude of military tests using virtually every defense system and technology available. Its remote location makes it ideal to test medium- and long-range artillery, aircraft armament and firecontrol systems, unmanned air vehicles and automotive equipment. “We test everything for ground combat – all Army cargo and parachute systems, unmanned aircraft and so on.” Wullenjohn said. “We have multiple sets of missions that we perform and all are focused on issuing troops reliable

equipment that will function anywhere in the world.” At 1,300 square miles, the sheer size of the installation is staggering. It also controls some 2,000 miles of restricted airspace as well as six airfields – making it an ideal location to test unmanned aircraft. Nearly 1,000 miles of fiber optic cable provide instantaneous test data feedback. Established in 1943, Yuma Proving Ground is home to several specialized tenants, including the Military Freefall School, the Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course and a high-altitude Aerostat helium balloon to monitor the radar fence along the southern U.S. border. The Military Freefall School, part of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special continued on page 144 >>> Winter 2014


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