[File #6]: Dugway Proving Ground

File: Dugway Proving Ground (DPG)

The mission of Dugway is to test U.S. and Allied biological & chemical defense systems; perform Nuclear Biological Chemical survivable testing of defense material; provide support to chemical and biological weapons conventions; and Operate and maintain an installation to support test mission. Dugway is located approximately 80 miles west-southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah in Tooele County. DPG, covering 798,855 acres, is located in the Great Salt Lake Desert, approximately 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. Surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges, the proving grounds terrain varies from level salt flats to scattered sand dunes and rugged mountains.

DPG includes mountains, valleys, and a large, flat, sparsely vegetated area that extends westward into the southern reaches of expansive salt flats of the Great Salt Lake Desert. In 1941, the Chemical Warfare Service (CWS) determined that it needed a large-scale chemical and biological warfare testing area. With increased population growth near the U.S. Army's Edgewood Arsenal, MD, and because of restrictions on various testing there, the CWS surveyed the western U.S. for a new location to conduct its tests. The construction of Dugway Proving Ground began in the spring of 1942. In February 1943 an airport with a 5,200-foot runway was completed.

DPG was officially established 12 February 1942, and testing commenced in the summer of that year. During World War II, DPG tested toxic agents, flame throwers, chemical spray systems, biological warfare weapons, antidotes for chemical agents, and protective clothing. In October 1943, DPG established biological warfare facilities at an isolated area within DPG (Granite Peak). DPG was slowly phased out after W.W.II, becoming inactive during August 1946. The base was reactivated during the Korean War and in 1954 was confirmed as a permanent Department of Army installation. In October 1958, DPG became home to the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, and Radiological (CBR) Weapons School, which moved from the U.S. Army Chemical Center, MD.

In March 1968, 6,400 sheep were found dead after grazing in south Skull Valley, an area just outside Dugway's boundaries. When examined, the sheep were found to have been poisoned by a deadly nerve agent called VX. The incident, coinciding with the birth of the environmental movement and anti-Vietnam protests, created an uproar in Utah and internationally.

Today DPG continues its role in the testing of chemical agents, pathogens, and toxins, now conducted in sealed containment chambers (rather than open air testing as in the past). Other activities at DPG include Army Reserve and National Guard component maneuver training, and U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center.

Many of Dugways test facilities are located in the Ditto Test Area, approximately 12 miles from the installations main gate. The biological test facility and test grids are situated farther west in Dugways remote desert area.

Dugway is controlled by the U.S. Army Test Command (TECOM). The Department of Defense has designated U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) as a major range and testing facility, and the primary chemical and biological defense testing center under the Reliance Program. Testers here determine the reliability and survivability of all types of military equipment in a chemical or biological environment. The chemical laboratory, permitted storage area, and many test related activities are operated under contract.

The Reginald Kendall Combined Chemical Test Facility (CCTF) is a state-of-the-art 48,000 square foot chemical laboratory facility designed to support testing of chemical warfare defensive equipment. Specific areas of the mission include evaluation of chemical agent detectors, testing of personnel and collective protective equipment (e.g., masks, clothing, shelters, etc.), testing of decontaminants, evaluation of military equipment for NBC survivability, analysis of waste and environmental samples, and safety air monitoring.

The enormous size of U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground's Melvin Bushnell Materiel Test Facility (MTF) makes it an ideal test ground for large vehicles and aircraft, including tanks or fighter aircraft. High-tech capabilities ensure testing in the MTF can replicate real-world battlefield conditions. Test environments can include the use of chemical agents and simulants, as well as any number of interferents, such as signal smoke, fog oil, burning brush or rags. These are used in attempts to confuse the chemical detectors during testing. A technician's command can change the "weather" inside this 50-by-50-by-30-foot chamber, mimicking any number of climactic conditions. Temperatures can vary from minus 40 to 150 F while the relative humidity can range from 4 to 95 percent. Other MTF chambers include the Agent Transfer Chamber (ATC) and the Closed System Chamber (CSC). The ATC, which measures 25-by-25-by-20 feet, supports agent transfers, monitoring, and dissemination. The CSC, which is the same size as the ATC, supports small chamber and glovebox tests.

DPG is located within the Great Salt Lake Desert, a subdivision of the Bonneville Basin, which is also part of the Great Basin Desert. The Bonneville Basin was once covered by the Pleistocene freshwater of Lake Bonneville, which deposited sediments on the salt covered flats that may reach depths of 610 meters. The old lakebed is categorized as cold desert or as Intermountain Sagebrush province. Elevations range from a low of approximately 1,400 meters to a high at nearby Ibapah peak of 3,684 meters. The topography within DPG contains broad valleys separated by north south trending mountain ranges. There are several isolated mountains. Most mountain ranges here were formed in a sequence of folding and block activity. Lava flows are visible in the majority of the ranges, but some (such as Granite Mountain) have granitic intrusions. The broad valley floors are filled with alluvium from the nearby mountains, resulting in distinctive physiographic features, such as piedmont slope (bajada) and nearly level basin floors. Pleistocene glaciers created Lake Bonneville, which resulted in gravel beaches, deltas, gravel bars, lake plains, and shorelines. These lake bed features are still visible in the area.

Habitat in the vicinity is characterized by salt desert vegetation (pickleweed, shadscale, gray molly, greasewood, budsage, juniper brush) interspersed with barren salt flats, along with stabilized and active dunes. Non-native plants such as cheat grass and Russian thistle are invading DPG at a fast pace. Cheat grass is estimated to cover 11.4% of DPG and (if present expansion continues) estimates indicate it could cover 25% of DPG by the year 2025.

The climate is arid as mountain ranges surrounding the Great Basin deplete moisture from storm systems. Most moisture enters the Great Basin from the south. Average annual rainfall for DPG is less than 17 cm. Temperature extremes range from 43°C to - 31°C, with an average maximum range of 18°C and minimum +3°C.

Michael Army Airfield (MAAF)
Dugway Proving Ground, Utah
40°11'58'N 112°56'15"W

Michael Army Airfield (MAAF), with its 13,125 foot runway, is a major support asset for multi-service developmental and operational tests. Located on Michael Army Airfield, the Avery Technical Center is capable of providing administrative and maintenance facilities for collocating test programs with test assets. Storage facilities are also available but must be scheduled on a space available basis.

Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) is located 140 km/87 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah in sparsely populated Tooele County. It is accessible by Interstate Highway 80 which runs 60 km/37 miles north of DPG. Access by air is provided by Michael Army Airfield, which is the primary emergency recovery airfield for the Utah Test and Training Range, the largest area available in the Defense Department for aircrew training and weapons testing.

Currently, the airfield requires significant repairs to the main runway, taxiways and parking aprons to remain open and operational. The runway was originally constructed in 1951 and has been in disrepair since 1985, with high severity cracking on the runway.

The flight-test program for the X-33, an unmanned reusable launch vehicle being developed by NASA and Lockheed Martin, called for suborbital flights between Edwards AFB, California; Michael AAF at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah; and Malmstrom AFB, Montana.

The X-33 flight test program was designed to allow rapid acquisition of necessary data while incrementally expanding the flight envelope. The X-33 was to be launched from the Edwards Air Force Base complex. The first series of flights was to be flown to Michael Army Airfield at the Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah. These flights were to acquire the bulk of the stress, thermal, aero, real gas effects, and operational test objectives. The next series of flights was to be flown to Malmstrom Air Force Base at Great Falls, Montana to acquire additional increments of real gas effects data. All flight test objectives were planned to be completed in seven flights. Eight additional flights were planned to incorporate any missed objectives during the first seven flights and to provide additional data for durability and reusability. The X-33 vehicle was to be transported back to the launch facility via a ground transporter after each flight.

Critical to the mission of Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, is the runway at Michael Army Airfield (AAF). Dugway is the primary chemical-biological weapon test and evaluation center for the Army. Unique to the installation is the 860,000+ acres of Utah high desert within the fence line. This makes it one of the only installations capable of doing unencumbered training exercises, often involving joint land and air training.

In May 2000 the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $1.5 million in Bennett requested funds for the planning and designing of a new airfield at Dugway Proving Ground. During a visit to Dugway Proving Ground in early 2000, Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) saw the poor condition of the runway at Michael AAF and recognized the need for rehabilitation. "After visiting Michael Army Airfield at Dugway Proving Ground earlier this year, I was alarmed to see the runway in such disrepair," said Bennett. "Given the importance of this airway to Hill Air Force Base in addition to Dugway, I am surprised that the army has allowed it to fall into such a substandard condition." The Senator directed a project be developed to either rehabilitate the existing runway or construct a new one. Cost-benefit analysis determined that construction of a new runway would be more beneficial. A planning charette was conducted (without the aid of the Corps) and a sticker price of $18 million was determined and forwarded to Congress.

As Dugway is within the geographic military boundary for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District they were given the project to design and provide project management, construction management and fiscal closeout. At a pre-design meeting with the installation and other potential airfield customers a cost of $28 million price was determined for the "ultimate wish list". In order to generate a viable project that could be constructed for the $18 million forwarded to Congress, the Transportation Systems Center was called to a design charette to create ways to comply with current criteria, mission requirements while reducing the total estimated costs.

The team successfully reduced the project to $18 million by: reducing the runway length to 10,000 feet, deleting the main apron from the project, obtaining materials from a quarry to be developed on base and constructing two batch plants (concrete and asphalt) rather than importing in all the materials. The Sacramento District continued to investigate alternatives (use of recycled materials and refinements to the structural section) and developed a scope for a 12,000-foot runway that still met the $18 million restriction.

The project to reconstruct the runway was identified as a "congressional add" and was slated for design in FY02 and construction in FY03. However, as of September 2001 it had been pushed out into "future year" execution. The installation and AMC Test & Evaluation Command, as well as the Air Force, were concerned, as the existing 13,125 foot asphalt runway is in poor condition and will likely be shut down or will have severe limitations placed on its use very soon.

On 29 October 1992, four MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters departed from Hill AFB, UT in a joint training exercise enroute to Michael Army Airfield, Dugway, UT. Two Air Force helicopters assigned to the 55th Special Operations squadrons Eglin AFB and two Army helicopters assigned to the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Ft. Campbell, KY, participated. One of the Air Force helicopters crashed into the Great Salt Lake. Three crew members and nine passengers from the Army Rangers and Air Force personnel were killed instantly upon impact.

In 1997 Bacillus subtillis var. niger and propylene release trials were conducted during the 911-Bio Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD). The primary ACTD experiments were staged at the Michael Army Airfield hangar and the German Village (GV) apartment complex, Dugway Proving Ground, UT. The 911- BIO ACTD evaluated and accelerated the fielding of new technologies for use by the Army's Technical Escort Unit and the CBIRF to respond quickly and effectively to terrorist use of BW. As a result of the Consequence Management 911-Bio ACTD, the "Chem War 2000" exercise, and a number of studies conducted by the Air Force and the Joint Staff, a new "Restoration Operations" ACTD was developed to examine the doctrine, tactics, techniques, procedures, and equipment required to recover quickly from CW/BW attacks on ports, airfields, and other fixed sites.

The Ditto wastewater collection and treatment system also serves the Avery Technical Center area and Michael Army Airfield. In outlying areas, some buildings are serviced by a septic tank and drain field system. The old system was abandoned in place. The collection system incorporates a series of primarily 6- and 8-inch gravity lines flowing into a 10-inch vitrified clay main which, in turns, flows to the lagoons. The system has approximately 16,500 feet of wastewater collection mains and 64 manholes. A sewage lift station pumps effluent from Avery and Michael Army Airfield into the Ditto collection system via a 4-inch force main. A final lift station at the endof the main collection line pumps influent into the lagoon system. A new headworks and lagoon system was completed in 1992 to serve the Ditto wastewater system. The new lagoon system is comprised of three cells with a holding capacity of one million gallons per cell. Lagoons have five floating mechanical aerators (2 in Cells 1 and 2, and one in Cell 3). Effluent flows to an open, evaporative holding area.

Officially released photo of Michael Army Air Field (MAAF):


both verified via Google Earth. The large building is visible at 40°.11'01.00'' N 112°55'39.00'' W

Additional unofficial photos (verified):


NW of Michael Air Field is a strange cross (not as visible after Google refreshed the map in 2012), which looks like some sort of landing area.

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