UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Yuma Training Range Complex [YTRC]

The Yuma Training Range Complex [YTRC] is a military aviation training facility composed of airspace and lands located in southwestern Arizona and southeastern California. The YTRC includes the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Bombing and Gunnery Range and aproximately 5,000 square miles of airspace designated for military use in California, and approximately 5,000 square miles of airspace in the western segment of the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range (BMGR) designated for military use in Arizona. The Complex is the only location available to and operated by the Marine Corps where the primary mission is to provide full spectrum support for Marine Corps tactical aviation training.

The Yuma Complex is located in the southeastern California and southwestern Arizona deserts approximately 130 nm east of San Diego, CA. Refer to the station order and the instruction indicated for a complete description of the support available. An electronic warfare (EW) range is established at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma AZ.

The complex is composed of the following instrumented areas:

  • Moving Sands (R-2301W)
  • Cactus West (R-2301W)
  • Yuma Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System (TACTS) Range

The following restricted, Military Operating Areas (MOA), and Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace (ATCAA) are associated with this complex:

  • Barry M. Goldwater Gunnery Range (R-2301W)
  • Chocolate Mountain Impact Area (R-2507)
  • Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range (R-2507)
  • Abel MOA/ATCAA
  • Quail MOA/ATCAA
  • Turtle MOA/ATCAA
  • Dome MOA/ATCAA
  • Imperial ATCAA
  • R-2306
  • R-2307
  • R-2308
  • R-2309

Management responsibilities for the YTRC are shared among several agencies. Presently, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma is the designated using agency and scheduling activity for the majority of the YTRC airspace areas. MCAS Yuma is also responsible for land management, environmental compliance, security, training procedures, and safety on the Chocolate Mountain Range as well as for the development, maintenance, and operation of targets and other facilities.

The BMGR may be viewed as having three land sections. Luke Air Force Base is the designated administrator for military activities on the entire BMGR, but generally confines its training activities to the eastern section of the BMGR. By Letter of Agreement with the Air Force, the Marine Corps is the primary military manager and user of the western section of the BMGR. Land management from a natural resources perspective within these two sections of the BMGR is the responsibility of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The third land section of the BMGR lies within the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and Wilderness. All management responsibilities for these lands lies with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with wildlife management responsibility jointly managed by USFWS and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD). No military training occurs on the ground within the Cabeza Prieta NWR.

The primary objective of YTRC Management is to maintain and advance the training conditions of the Complex so that it continues to offer Marine and other service commanders the diversity and flexibility necessary to employ and exercise their units in all phases of tactical aviation to the fullest extent and under conditions that realistically simulate combat.

The Chocolate Mountain Range and the BMGR comprise more than 1,900 square miles of lands that have been employed as aerial gunnery and bombing training areas since they were established during the World War II period.

Ongoing military use of the land is authorized under various federal Public Laws and Public Land Orders. Examples of some of the existing facilities used for training include an auxillary airfield complex, realistic targets for air-to-ground attack, air-to-air firing ranges, and electronic warfare training ranges.

The Urban Target Complex lies beneath the Moving Sands airspace which is further divided into Low and High airspace. The Low airspace extends from the surface up to 15,000 feet MSL. Moving Sands High airspace overlies the target complex from 16,000 feet to FL200. This airspace is intended to facilitate higher altitude bombing patterns. The Urban Target Complex consists of 167 buildings made from shipping containers of various types. The target features buildings of various sizes, vehicle targets (both civilian and military), and simulated personnel. The targets within the complex are located within a 400m by 350m rectangle. There are four Forward Aircraft Control (FAC) Observation Posts (OPs). One FAC OP on each semi-cardinal direction. The OPs are M113 Armored Personnel Carriers located approximately 300m from the closest building on each respective semi-cardinal heading. The majority of the buildings are scorable via the Weapons Impact Scoring System (WISS). Additionally, the "Town Square" (former Moving Sands WISS Bull's Eye) is located at the center of the complex, and can be scored via the WISS cameras.

Cactus West provides for air-to-ground special weapons/conventional bomb, rocket, and strafing exercises with inert ordnance. Target scoring services are available on UHF frequency 358.6 MHz. No special weapons, CBUs or ordnance requiring immediate recovery are authorized. Lasers are not authorized. The Special Weapons/Conventional Target is a 3000-foot wide target consisting of a 50-foot bull's-eye with concentric rings of 75, 150, and 300-foot radii, with a 1500- foot bladed radius around the target. The target is scored remotely by a WISS with the data transmitted by microwave relay back to MCAS Yuma. Ordnance is limited to conventional inert ordnance up to 1,000 lb, and inert 2.75-inch and 5-inch rockets. The target is lighted for night ordnance deliveries. It is augmented with a radar reflector located 2700-feet beyond the bull's-eye at the 12 o'clock position. Cactus West has two strafing targets each of which consists of a ring of tires on a dirt berm. They are scored acoustically and are located 1000-feet south of the south tower. Strafing the raked bull is not authorized. Only inert ammunition is allowed.

The Yuma Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System (TACTS) Range provides aircrew training and performance evaluation in air-to-air combat, air-to-surface combat, ACM, NDWS, and electronic warfare (EW). The TACTS functions as the Integrated Air Defense System (IADS) providing the EW threats with command and control. Hardware status is returned to TACTS for display and provides input for calculating their effect on the mission including end-game results of software simulated surface-to-air missile (SAM) and antiaircraft artillery (AAA) firings. The TACTS training system also supports simultaneous, fully integrated training by dissimilar aircraft engaged in all aspects of tactical air warfare. No ordnance deliveries are used with TACTS, all weapons scoring is generated through validated computer simulations as an integral part of the TACTS software. There are numerous targets available for NDWS including large pictorial target areas, e.g. airfield, POL sites, combat village and SAM sites. Also, specific elements within the large target areas, e.g. aircraft, buildings, water towers, are available. Adversary aircraft utilized in Fleet training are arranged and/or provided by the user.

The Chocolate Mountain Impact Area is an unnattended/non-instrumented ordnance range located approximately 60 NMI northwest of the MCAS Yuma TACAN, Channel 84. Access to the Chocolate Mountains is by air or surface roads. The Chocolate Mountain Impact Area provides a large land and airspace area for air tactics, Close Air Support (CAS) missions, laser system operations, and air-to-ground bombing, rocket, and strafing exercises. All types of live and inert conventional ordnance up to 2000 lb general purpose (GP) bombs, including MK 20 (Rockeye) and cluster bomb units (CBUs), are authorized in specific areas with prior coordination. Due to past noise complaints, High Explosive Ordnance deliveries are restricted to the hours of 0700-2100 Pacific Standard Time and 0800-2200 Pacific Daylight Time (ZULU minus 7 Always).

The Chocolate Mountain Impact Area has five target areas each with numerous individual targets. These targets include vehicle hulks, convoys, anti-air sites, simulated airfield and headquarters complexes.

On 02 October 1998 the Department of the Navy announced its decision to upgrade the capability of the Yuma Training Range Complex (YTRC). The decision was made to approve the following actions:

  • Discontinue authorization for and use of the low-level holding areas for fixed-wing aircraft over the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Allow the corridors for low-level overflights of the Cabeza Prieta NWR by fixed-wing aircraft to be activated for use on up to 60 days per year but not more than 7 consecutive days at a time; implementation of airspace proposals over the Cabeza Prieta NWR will require the renegotiation of the Memorandum of Understanding among the Marine Corps, Air Force, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service governing low-level military aircraft overflights of the Cabeza Prieta NWR.
  • Replace the 11 existing corridor segments for low-level overflight of the Cabeza Prieta NWR by rotary-winged aircraft (i.e., helicopters) with three distinct corridors identified to resolve endangered species (Sonoran pronghorn and lesser long-nosed bat) protection issues (Alternatives 1-3, 1-4 and 1-5).
  • Establish a new restricted area, designated R-2507E, contiguous with the northeastern side of R-2507S, that will increase the restricted airspace available to support aviation training operations without exceeding land boundaries of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range (Chocolate Mountain Range) (Alternative 2-3).
  • Establish an overlying controlled firing area contiguous to R-2507N to support overhead firing for Naval Special Warfare Group One training (Alternative 3-2).
  • Add new target scenarios to the existing Moving Sands and Cactus West target inert impact areas in the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range (Goldwater Range) (Alternative 4-2).
  • Construct a narrow-width runway/roadway for AV-8B roadway operations at auxiliary airfield two in the Goldwater Range (Alternative 5-2).
  • Relocate the parachute drop zone for cargo recovery to a position southeast of auxiliary airfield two (Alternative 6-2).
  • Establish three ground support zones in the Goldwater Range to consolidate existing ground support areas in selected intensive use locations, designate four new individual ground support areas in unserved locations west of the Gila Mountains, and inactivate the use of four ground support areas that are not currently needed. The designation of one new individual ground support area near Stoval Auxiliary Field inside the retired Multiple Aimpoint Validation test area but outside of the Mohawk Mountains and Sand Dunes Areas of Critical Environmental Concern was proposed as part of this alternative. The Marine Corps will not establish this additional ground support area at this time (Alternative 7-3).
  • Install five new Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System range threat emitters in the Goldwater Range (Alternative 8-2).
  • Increase the maximum net explosive weight limits for air-to-ground ordnance delivery at the Chocolate Mountain Range to twelve MK-82 (500- pound) bombs, six MK-83 (1,000-pound) bombs, or four MK-94 (2,000- pound) bombs per aircraft pass (Alternative 9-2).
  • Rescind the prohibition on night ordnance delivery training on the Chocolate Mountain Range between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. No specific proposal currently exists to implement this action alternative. Subsequent environmental documentation will be completed as required prior to implementing night ordnance delivery under this alternative (Alternative 10-2).
  • The proposal to authorize air-to-ground delivery of live ordnance in the southwestern portion of R-2507 of the Chocolate Mountain Range has been withdrawn from further consideration (Alternative 11-2). Any future proposal to authorize air-to-ground delivery of live ordnance in this area would be evaluated in subsequent environmental documentation, as appropriate, once a proposal is ripe for consideration.
  • Develop three new individual targets and redevelop targets at seven inactive individual target sites in the Chocolate Mountain Range (Alternative 12-2).
  • Relocate the two off-range ground support areas and drop zone to positions inside the Chocolate Mountain Range boundary (Alternative 13- 2).
  • Inactivate use of Training Area 1 and Firing Zones 1 and 2 for ground training activities, and relocate the Naval Special Warfare Group One training activities conducted in those locations to Training Area 2, to be redesignated Special Warfare Training Area 4. In addition, develop Special Warfare Training Area 4 to accommodate relocated weapons training by Naval Special Warfare Group One. As a result of this action, a training requirement of Naval Special Warfare Group One currently cannot be met. A proposal may be developed by the Department of the Navy to establish a range capable of supporting a 360 degree field of fire. Though no proposal currently exists, it seems likely an alternative that would be evaluated is the Chocolate Mountain Range. Environmental documentation would be prepared, as appropriate, once a proposal is ripe for consideration. In addition, any proposal to expand Naval Special Warfare Group One training activities or construct new facilities on the Chocolate Mountain Range would be evaluated in subsequent environmental documentation, as appropriate. Training Area 1 and Firing Zones 1 and 2 will continue to be active for aviation training (Alternative 14-2).

The proposed actions are functionally independent of each other and have stand alone value for improving the YTRC. Alternatives were identified that met mission requirements while maximizing protection for the environment. As a result, only three alternative sets had more than one action alternative identified. For the remaining 11 alternative sets, only the proposed action and no action alternatives were identified. The no action alternative to each proposal would result in no changes to existing YTRC facilities or procedures.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:58:22 ZULU