Hopefully, Air Force training ranges in Arizona will offer much better training to pilots soon. Environmental studies are in work near Davis-Monthan AFB to determine the impact of updating flight restrictions in the area.
The American mid-West offers some of the best training grounds in the world for the military. Our allies send their aviators and maintainers to the States to benefit from that training. Areas like Yuma Proving Grounds, Utah Test and Training Range, and the Nellis Range offer excellent visibility, (usually) good weather, and miles and miles of wide-open spaces. Add to that the region’s varied topography, and you wind up with an area that can offer simulations of most countries’ landscapes.
The ability to fly and fight in a simulated environment has been central to pilot and weapons system advancement and proficiency since the Wright military flyer first took to the skies. In much the same way baseball teams practice and practice and practice before they actually play, aviators need that as well. In baseball, teams often “scrimmage” against each other to build team cohesion, try out new ways to play, and hone their overall skills in a (relatively) non-competitive way. Both teams understand this is all about proficiency. Military aviators use test ranges to “scrimmage” amongst themselves, other services, and even allied nations.
In 2014, the Air Force issued the 2025 Air Test and Training Range Enhancement Plan to Congress, outlining testing range needs and requirements through 2025. In the report, emphasis is placed on the fact America has been fighting a counter-insurgent, low-tech war for the last decade. Training has focused on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the detriment of more peer-adversary operations. As America is emerging from the “Forever War,” the need to ramp up our skills against more technologically advanced threats is becoming more evident.