Yuma Proving Ground, AZ Image 1
    Yuma Proving Ground, AZ Image 2

    Yuma Proving Ground, AZ History

    In 1850, Fort Yuma was built overlooking the Yuma crossing of the Colorado River where the soldiers could protect the thousands of travelers who came through annually. The Yuma Quartermaster Depot was added in 1865 to supply the Army through New Mexico and Arizona. Both the fort and the depot closed in the 1880s and the Army did not return until World War II.

    The Yuma Test Branch was opened on the old fort site by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1943. This was an ideal spot to test portable combat bridges along the river. Camp Laguna also opened at the same time for mechanized warfare training as one of only 12 desert training facilities in an 18,000 square mile area known as the California-Arizona Maneuver Area (CAMA). This was closed in 1944, but the test branch stayed open

    In the same year, the Yuma Test Branch expanded to include rice and hemp plants planted to create a realistic training environment for the expected invasion of Japan. Though the test branch closed in 1950, it was reopened a year later as the Yuma Test Station and it had expanded yet again. This time, the station housed the nation's longest overland artillery range for the testing of armored vehicles and air delivery systems.

    After the Army reorganized in 1963, the station was renamed Yuma Proving Ground. During the mid 1960s, the High Altitude Research Project (HARP) was developed at Yuma. This was a gun made out of 2 16-inch Navy gun tubes; it measured 119 feet and weighed 240 tons and, when fired, launched 111 miles into space and returned to the base 30 miles from where it had started.

    In 1971, Aberdeen Proving Ground's aircraft armament testing mission was reassigned permanently to Yuma. Yuma also was designated as a Major Range and Test Facility. 1971 also saw the construction of the most highly instrumented helicopter armament test range in the nation make Yuma its home. The AH-64 Apache helicopter had all its developmental testing done here and the civilian and military developmental work on the GPS also happened at Yuma. In 1995, the Western world's largest mine, countermine, and demolitions test facility opened here. Today one of Yuma's most important programs is the testing of Stryker armored vehicles and all its variants.