Yuma-area bases leading the way in military future
Most of us here in the Yuma area are aware of the dramatic changes taking place at MCAS Yuma that will put it at the forefront of aircraft technology with the basing of the newest fighter jets here in the coming months and years.
But Yuma's other military base — Yuma Proving Ground — has been equally involved with some of the most advanced military technology over the years through its testing programs. And now it will have a world-leading high-tech training facility for parachutists.
YPG is the site of the Military Freefall School that trains parachutists from all branches of the U.S. military in the use of freefall, a demanding and increasingly required skill as the military transitions to the use of more special forces units instead of the traditional large battle forces of the past.
These small and stealthy units can drop in and accomplish their missions with surprise, thanks to the use of freefall.
Now YPG will have the world's largest freefall tower for training purposes. Ground was broken for the two-story vertical wind tunnel Wednesday and it is expected to be operational in a year. It can accommodate eight people in freefall at once and uses the latest technology.
The new facility benefits not only the military but our community. Because it is such an advanced facility, military forces from around the world are expected to come here to use it. That means a lot of money will flow into our community.
And “the more dollars we bring into the community, the more people we can employ here, the better it is for us, the better it is for the community as a whole,” said YPG commander Col. Reed Young. He added that increasing the diversity of operations at the base beyond testing helps ensure YPG's future in an era when military cutbacks are forecast.
An immediate benefit is that the contractor for the new tower is Pilkington Construction, a local company.
Both bases here are well positioned for the future because they are going to be at the forefront of military technology.