News

YPG Workload Highest Of All Army Test Organizations

By Chuck Wullenjohn Yuma Proving Ground

For over 70 years, U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground has been an important contributor in ensuring our national defense.

YPG’s primary mission, as most people in the Yuma area know, is to thoroughly and realistically test weapon systems and munitions to ensure that America’s military men and women receive top-notch equipment that functions as advertised.

Though the workload has gone up and down over the years, depending on what is going on in the world, the last 14 years have seen significant YPG workload growth. For the past four years running, including the recently completed year, YPG has executed the highest annual workload of any Army test organization.

Though the test workload has diminished as our nation scaled back military operations in Southwest Asia, YPG continues to lead the pack.

The Army calculates the workload of test organizations by keeping close track of direct labor hours. For fiscal year 2013, YPG accumulated 1.966 million direct labor hours, with a diversified test workload that consisted of virtually every piece of equipment a soldier or Marine is likely to use. The feat was accomplished while scrupulously maintaining the safety and quality standards that have become YPG hallmarks.

Though the total number of labor hours declined from its 2011 peak of nearly 2.8 million, it was still between 20 and 40 percent higher than the average year prior to the beginning of military operations in Southwest Asia early in the last decade.

This past summer’s six-day employee furlough, combined with a partial government shutdown to start the new fiscal year, also diminished the total labor hours, as did the arduous work to shut down operations and secure equipment and weaponry in the days leading up to the shutdown.

Major projects tackled this past year in the ground combat arena included tests of the Paladin integrated management upgrade to the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, the Excalibur precision artillery projectile, and components that comprise the counter-artillery, rocket and mortar system.

Lot acceptance of munitions and weapons systems continued to be another driver of workload, and the newly arrived Joint Lightweight Tactical Vehicle is expected to be tested at the proving ground for the foreseeable future.

Within the air combat arena, the overall workload remained roughly steady, though the amount of parachute testing increased by about 10 percent. Significant projects included the C-17 cargo aircraft increased gross weight study, precision air drop cargo parachutes, tests of unmanned aerial systems, and various sensor tests utilizing an aerostat balloon called the Persistent Threat Detection System.

Outfitting military vehicles with counter-electronic warfare devices is a sustaining mission, and NASA continues to test its next generation of rocket parachutes at the proving ground. Additional work on the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter and Block III Apache attack helicopter are expected in late 2014.

YPG Commander Col. Reed Young feels a statistic like YPG’s high number of direct labor hours can be correlated to what he considers a “great” workforce.

“It’s not fair to say YPG is better or worse than anyone else, but when you look at the different test organizations within the Department of Defense and private industry, you see that customers want to come here,” he said. “The biggest reason for that is Yuma Proving Ground’s people and the high level of service they provide.”

Chuck Wullenjohn is the public affairs officer at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. He can be reached at (928) 328-6533 or by email at charles.c.wullenjohn.civ@mail.mil.