Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range

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Coordinates: 32°27′45″N 113°26′45″W / 32.46250°N 113.44583°W / 32.46250; -113.44583

Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range
Located near: Yuma, Arizona
BMGR-Wellton (1).JPG
Site information
Controlled by United States Air Force
Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range is located in Arizona
Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range
Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range
Sign along El Camino Del Diablo roadside in the BMGR, near Wellton, Arizona.

The Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range (BMGR, formerly known as Luke Air Force Range)[1] is a bombing range in the U.S. state of Arizona, near the Mexico–United States border.

It is primarily used for air-to-ground bombing practice by United States Air Force pilots flying A-10s from Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, F-16s and F-35 Lightning IIs from Luke Air Force Base and Tucson Air National Guard Base, and United States Marine Corps pilots and naval flight officers in F/A-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers and F-35Bs flying from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. It is also used by other U.S. and NATO/Allied/Coalition flight crews while deployed to any of the aforementioned bases for training.

The entire range is approved for day and night operations. Four controlled, manned, and electronically scored surface attack ranges are available for pilots to practice basic air-to-surface weapons delivery, including bombing, rocket delivery, and strafing. Additionally, three expansive, uncontrolled tactical ranges are available. Each of these tactical ranges spans several hundred square miles, and each contains two full-size airfield mockups plus many diverse arrays of targets, including structures, vehicle convoys, aircraft, and armor. These ranges are used to train pilots for strike and close air support missions, and support various types of live ordnance. Furthermore, JTACs from various military services and countries frequently train on the same ranges and direct the air attacks. An air-to-air gunnery range is also available.

Near the center of the range complex, Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field (near Gila Bend, Arizona) serves as an emergency landing strip for pilots/flight crews training on the ranges.

The Air Force operates the eastern portion of the BMGR (south of Interstate 8) while the Marine Corps operates the western portion, where Yodaville Urban Target Complex (R-2301 West) is located.

Illegal immigrants crossing the BMGR[edit]

Despite warning signs along its southern perimeter in English and Spanish stating that the BMGR is U.S. Government property, that it is an active military bombing range and that unauthorized entry is prohibited, the BMGR remains among the treacherous access areas southwest of Tucson for Mexican, Salvadoran, and other Central and South Ameican migrants illegally crossing into the United States, where many have perished.[2][3] Aid workers trying to save people from dying have signed up for annual passes to access the BMGR, including a waiver of liability for live bombing, but some workers have been banned and threatened with trespassing charges, citing property policy that requires everything packed in to also be brought out.[4] In August 2018, The Marshall Project reported in an interview on the progressive news program Democracy Now! about deaths on this dangerous and off-limits bombing area, where humanitarian aid - like food or even water - is impossible to deliver.[5]

Freelance Mexican-American investigative reporter John Carlos Frey said that a team from the volunteer search-and-rescue group, Aguilas del Desierto - “Eagles of the Desert,” discovered a dozen bodies in a small area they were allowed to search for two weekends, but fear at least hundreds more have died there, referencing the mass graves discovered in a Texas cemetery along a migrant travel corridor in 2014,[6] but the government isn't allowing any further property search.[7]

However, resource managers at the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Defense counter that the aid workers degrade the environment and that the restrictions aren't new. All visitors to these federal lands, they note, already had to pack out anything they brought in.[8]

Popular culture[edit]

The range is the setting for §4, Part 4, in Don DeLillo's Underworld (1997).[9]


  1. ^ "Barry M. Goldwater Range-East | Site History | ADEQ Arizona Department of Environmental Quality". Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  2. ^ LoMonaco, Claudine. "Illegal immigrant death wave following desert's heat wave - Tucson Citizen Morgue, Part 2 (1993-2009)". Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  3. ^ Tory, Sarah. "Border Patrol arrests migrants seeking humanitarian aid". High Country News. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  4. ^ Devoid, Alex. "Aid workers leave water for border crossers in the Arizona desert. Now, the U.S. is banning them for it". The Republic. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  5. ^ "'Mass disaster' grows at the U.S.-Mexico border, but Washington doesn't seem to care". AZCentral. The Desert Sun. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  6. ^ Dart, Tom (21 June 2014). "Texas mass graves with remains of migrants uncovered". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Military Cover-Up? 100s of Migrants Feared Dead in Mass Grave at AZ's Barry Goldwater Bombing Range". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Don DeLillo, Underworld (Scribner, 1997), pp. 449-68.

External links[edit]