Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (WAATS)
Silverbell Army Heliport
Pinal Air Park, Marana, Arizona
The Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site, (WAATS) is located at the Silverbell Army Heliport Marana, Arizona, in the heart of the beautiful Sonoran desert. The heliport is about 30 miles Northwest of historic Tucson and about 86 miles South of Arizona's capital city Phoenix. Co-located at the heliport is the 1st/285th Apache Helicopter Attack Battalion, a unit of the Arizona Army National Guard.
The pre-mobilization mission of the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site is to conduct National Guard Bureau directed aviation training for the Attack and Aero-Scout mission as approved and directed by the US Army Training & Doctrine Command. The post mobilization mission is to augment the TRADOC as an activity under the command and control of US Army Aviation Center.
The WAATS is the premier training site for attack and aero-scout helicopter training for the Army National Guard. The training site also serves both active duty and National Guard aviators with simulation support, utilizing the AH-1 Flight Weapons Simulator or the AH-64 Combat Mission Simulator. Helicopter emergency procedures training is being conducted at the Picacho Stage field, which has a control tower, crash fire rescue and four emergency procedure-training lanes. In addition, Picacho Stage field is able to bivouac an entire Apache battalion. The training environment of the WAATS is second to none. Weather and flying conditions allow for 360 training days per year. The sparsely populated low level and tactical training area has 3600 square miles, 2/3 of which has been approved for tactical landing zones. In addition, the training area has 8 commercial instrumented airports. Aerial gunnery training is conducted on the Barry M. Goldwater Gunnery range utilizing the 2.5 million-acre joint use ranges. Staging from Gila Bend Auxiliary Field, the armed helicopters proceed to East Tac Target Range to complete their gunnery mission.
In the early 1970's an Army National Guard Aviation program management structure was designed to meet the increase aviation training and maintenance requirements of the aviation units of the Army National Guard. It became apparent that the training within the Army National Guard Aviation program structure would require some change. To meet the needs of the Army National Guard, the Army National Guard Aviation Training Site became a reality. The Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site was activated in 1982 followed by the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in October 1986. In August of 1992 at the National Guard Bureau, after an in progress review of enlisted training needs. It was determined that the Army National Guard Aviation Training Sites would start training enlisted soldiers. Conducting Military Occupational Specialty or MOS qualifications as well as the aviation portion of the basic and advanced Non Commissioned Officers courses, BNCOC & ANCOC for career management field for 67.
The Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site is a quality-focused organization, which has recognized the urgency to improve and adapt to the changing environment. Faced with depleting resources and an increase to do more with less. Today's training site is under going dynamic structural changes as well as searching for innovative ideas of how to train war fighters of today and into the 21st Century. The leadership is totally committed to open communication-inspiring trust and teamwork at all levels. The future holds promises for the new technology utilizing distance learning and computer based training.
The war fighter, whether aviator, mechanic, crewchief, technical inspector or flight operation specialist and his capabilities are our focus. The skills and abilities imparted on him will win the battles of the future. The WAATS consistently meets or exceeds the student's expectations by listening to feedback and making necessary changes to accomplish the mission. Our motto is "Training for Excellence." Accessible by interstate, highway, rail and air, the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site is an ideal economic location to accomplish unit sustainment training. As well as joint Army and Airforce mission training. The Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site stands ready to accept the challenges of the future and is postured to accept any new training missions to meet Army readiness requirements.