Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Yuma Proving Grounds, 11/29/2015

The Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG) is one of the largest military installations in the world (bigger than the state of Rhode Island!) It is the nation's largest artillery testing facility and has the longest overland artillery range in the country. Testing of armored vehicles, armored systems, and delivery systems for all branches of the US military and our NATO allies occur here. Almost every commodity in the ground combat arsenal has been tested at this location.

Camp Laguna operated here from 1942 to 1944. It was one of 12 Desert Training Centers in southwestern desert terrain established to train US troops during World War II. Patton organized these training center to prepare for tank warfare in Northern Africa. As you can see the be the photos below, the area was well-suited for this.

In 1963 the installation was renamed the Yuma Proving Grounds. By 1981, all aircraft armament testing missions were relocated from Aberdeen Proving Grounds (in Maryland) to Yuma. 

YPG is located north of Yuma on Highway 95 (about 10 miles north of Fortuna Boulevard intersection). 

Two of the eight remaining Atomic Cannons (M65) are on display at the entrance to YPG. Approximately 20 were built and deployed to Europe and Korea in the early 1950s. It was a towed artillery piece capable of firing a nuclear device. 

A tank and helicopter are displayed at the entrance to the General Walton H. Walker Cantonment Area

Next we stopped at the Wahner E. Brooks Historical Exhibit. Here are some of the military equipment we saw there. The first tank in the photo below is a M4A3 Sherman Tank, manufactured in 1944 in Ohio. This one is a WWII combat veteran. 

M113A1 Armored Personnel Carrier capable of amphibious and air-drop operations. It was used to transport and provide protection for troops and used extensively in Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

M551 "Sheridan" Armored Recon Airborne Assault Vehicle also used in Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. It has a 152 mm gun launcher capable of using standard 152 mm ammunition as well as Shillelagh surface-guided missiles.

M60 Main Battle Tank was 4th in the "Patton" tank series. It was the primary tank during the Cold War and saw limited use in Desert Storm.

The MGR-1 Honest John (first photo) was the first nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile in the US arsenal. It could also carry ordinary high-explosive warheads. It was mounted on a truck and was deployed throughout Europe during the Cold War era. It was withdrawn from service in 1985 from many European countries and South Korea. The second photo is the MGR-3 Little John rocket, the smallest nuclear-capable rocket. It was used by the Army airborne divisions and could be dropped from the air (vs launched from a truck). 

The M107 175MM self-powered howitzer was used to provide long-range fires during the Vietnam War. Other smaller towed howitzers are on display here that were used in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. 

This is just a sampling of what is on display here. I know it is always a poignant experience for John to see some of the military equipment he was familiar with when he did his Vietnam tour of duty i the Army in 1970-71.

We did not enter the military base, but stopped to see the military vehicles and devices on display along Imperial Dam Road that runs through YPG.

In summary, here are some facts we found interesting about this facility. It:
  • is 1,300 square miles in size
  • controls 2,000 miles of restricted airspace
  • is the Department of Defense's most highly instrumented helicopter range
  • contains 6 airfields
The Yuma Proving Grounds manages testing for the DoD at the Cold Region Test Center (Alaska) and the Tropic Region Test Centers (Hawaii, Panama, Honduras) in addition to Yuma. 

For additional information about YPG, see their web site. 

Website:  www.yuma.army.mil

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