Barry M. Goldwater Range was formerly called the Luke Air Force Base which is based in southwestern part of Arizona is under the operation of the 56th Fighter wing Range Management office, Airspace and Range operations office.
Goldwater Range serves as the high hazard testing site and armament area for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force. It facilitates the training of electronic warfare, air support, rocketry, aerial gunnery, tactical maneuvering and as a site for the development of tactics, equipment and other similar defense purposes. It served the same purpose since 1941 when it was founded for the purpose of giving military education to the U.S. Army Air Corps pilots which will serve the World War II. During those times military aircraft can shoot down enemies at a target distance of 600 feet where as today with more modern approach, it can shoot an enemy at a range of 25 miles.
During the Persian Gulf War, around 95% of all fighter pilots who were assigned in the Persian Gulf War were trained at the Goldwater Range. A notable 50% of the F-16 air crews, high percentage of F-15, 100% of F-15E and 100 of A/oA-10 air crews who fought in the Gulf War had undergone training as students in Goldwater Range. Crews of the F/A-18 and AV-8B from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps had been under the training of Goldwater Range.
The range center point made it possible for the different military airspace, air bases and ranges which make the area a good training ground. The range is within the flight radius of Marine Corps, 12 Air Force, Air National Guard, Army, Navy and the Army National Guard air bases in southern California and Arizona plus the Navy aircraft carriers in the Pacific. This made the unique significance of the Goldwater Range as the ideal location for all training purposes.
Aside from the good site and facilities Goldwater Range offer, the all year round perfect weather condition makes it the perfect ground for training with only 3% reported cancellations due to weather condition. Fighter pilots practice the air to air battlefield targets and maneuvers made it possible with the range overhead airspace of 57,000 cubic miles. The huge size of the range also allows the simultaneous training of the two air to air ranges and the nine air to ground ranges. The range is capable of simultaneous operation of more than 50 aircraft and aircrews while still doing other independent training operations.
The air to ground ranges engages in special and conventional weapons delivery targets. They employ range control officers that are stationed in the observation tower located near the target area. It also engages in night operations that are capable of delivering special weapons.
Barry M. Goldwater Range is set in 1.7 million acres of public land as well as Department of Defense land. However, it was downsized to 1.6 million acres when part of it was withdrawn to Cabeza National Wildlife Refuge.