Yuma Proving Ground covers almost 3400 square km and spreads over two counties – Yuma and La Paz. It is located in the southern side of Arizona and represents one of the widest military bases in the world. It is so wide to give the US Army the chance to test some of the most sophisticated weapons, such as artillery systems. As a matter of fact, the ground is the testing range for almost every weapon in the world. The wide area doesn’t get any closer to any human communities, therefore there are no risks taken, not to mention about the noise issues. Aside from the ground combat tests, there are also over 5000 square km for airspace tests. Leaving behind the military units, there are more than 3000 civilians working to improve and maintain the facilities on site. The military units are usually deployed there on a temporary basis. They come, test and leave. With so many civilians working there, the proving ground is the largest employer in the Yuma County.
In order to understand how useful and highly active Yuma Proving Ground is, you need to know the numbers of this place. More than half a million missile rounds are taken every year, plus over 35000 parachutes are dropped. At the same time, the military vehicles tested here perform around 300000 km. Aside from an extremely safe demolition site used for testing the most advanced mines in the world, the proving ground can brag with saving a lot of lives during the Korean and Vietnam wars. The authorities cloned the villages and roads from Southeast Asia to help the soldiers train. This way, they haven’t faced any surprises at all when deployed in the war theaters. The same thing happened before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Starting with 2009, the US Army has signed an excellent agreement with General Motors for around $100M. General Motors took this opportunity after one of its other facilities from Arizona was closed. In order to benefit from the testing tracks, General Motors has allowed the US Army to test some of the most advanced vehicles on its tracks on a year round basis.
The history of Yuma Proving Ground dates back to the 19-th century, when the army built Fort Yuma in 1850 to ensure the peace in the area and to protect the local passing. Ever since then, the place has been continuously upgraded until prior to World War II. In 1943, it was significantly expanded to test the multitude of weapons that were used during the war. Once World War II ended, some of the facilities at the proving ground slowly decreased in activity to end up closed.
In the summer of 1973, the base was renamed to what it is today. It was also taken over by the Department of Defense. Ever since then, it has been constantly supporting all types of troops for testing capabilities on a 24/7 basis. The arid desert, the 350 sunny days and the 3 inches of rain falling every year make the climate perfect.