2021 was a ground breaking year for Yuma Proving Ground (YPG)— from ground breaking testing to ground breaking on much needed projects. The Outpost takes a look back at a few of those moments.
Project Convergence 21 points way to Army, joint forces future
Project Convergence (PC) 21, the Army’s campaign of learning, returned to U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) to test a vast and astonishing array of new technology.
For the first time ever, every branch of the United States’ armed forces were testing their sensor-to-sensor capabilities in tandem.
In addition to representation from all branches of the military, this year’s iteration featured all eight of the Army Futures Command’s cross-functional teams. There was also a dramatically larger Soldier presence.
YPG served as the staging ground for PC 21. Between 1,500 and 2,000 additional personnel on the ground at any given time throughout the six weeks of experimentation, PC 21 proceeded flawlessly thanks to more than a year of pre-planning, even as the vagaries of natural environment testing caused numerous schedule changes.
Meanwhile, the proving ground’s normal testing workload—about 1.8 million direct labor hours last fiscal year—had continued throughout the year.
Groundbreaking counter-small UAS demos at YPG
U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground provided the ideal backdrop for the week-long C-sUAS demonstrations held in April and September.
The demonstrations focused on the most cutting edge drone-busting technology in a low collateral effects interceptor assessment-- in short, an evaluation of capabilities that can intercept and defeat an incoming threat sUAS. This demonstration’s primary objective was on systems able to defeat small Class 1 and 2 drones, or lightweight models that are easily and cheaply acquired and difficult to spot and intercept.
2021 was the first year the demonstration took place at YPG and the Joint C-sUAS Office and the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office plan to return yearly for these demonstrations.
Heritage Center reopens its doors to visitors
Yuma Proving Ground’s Heritage Center officially announced it’s reopening on the morning of July 15 in a ceremony attended by multiple dignitaries from throughout the local community and Arizona. The museum chronicles YPG's nearly 80-year history of developmental testing of virtually every piece of equipment in the ground combat arsenal.
The Heritage Center, first opened in 1997, has consistently ranked as one of the top destinations in Yuma by popular online tourist guides, and has been a centerpiece of public tours of the installation held in conjunction with Visit Yuma since 2013. Inside, patrons learn of YPG's growth, from testing pontoon bridges during World War II and conducting the first tests of the Global Positioning System in the 1970s, to it's vital work during the Global War on Terror and position at the forefront of today's Army modernization efforts.
Highway 95 improvements begin
After decades of danger, Highway 95’s road to safe status is underway.
A stretch of Highway 95 from Avenue 9E to just north of Rifle Range Road is being expanded to five lanes, a project that will take roughly one year to complete.
Concurrently, long-awaited left and right turn lanes to Highway 95’s intersection with Dome Valley Road were added.
In early August, YPG Commander Col. Patrick McFall participated in a groundbreaking ceremony that kicked off this phase of lane expansion. Also at the event was YPG Command Sgt. Maj. Herbert Gill, former YPG Commander Ross Poppenberger, and numerous elected officials from local city, county, and state government.
Next summer, construction to widen the Wellton-Mohawk Bridge to five lanes will begin. An additional $10 million that was allocated by the State of Arizona this year will allow for a portion of the road between Rifle Range Road and the bridge to be expanded to five lanes.