One of the major challenges in training both Close Air Support and Battlefield Air Interdiction is finding suitable targets for pilots to train on. Understandably, few communities in the US are eager to have live bombs, missiles and rockets landing on their front lawns. And while the services have fairly large numbers of places they can drop bombs, virtually all of that is merely big open spaces. But targeting a particular building in a built up area is a critical skill for today’s aviator, and learning to do that is one of the most difficult challenges they face.
But building a range complex that can serve as a facsimile of a built up area isn’t cheap. Or rather, it wasn’t. Enter the humble shipping container.
One of the side effects of our trade imbalance with China is that they send a lot of goods over in shipping containers, and we send fewer goods back that way. That tends to result in a fairly large surplus of shipping containers here in the US, which drives down their market value.
And since they’re cheap and stackable, they can easily be configured to resemble realistic buildings. Stack enough, and you’ve got what, from a pilot’s perspective, looks reasonably close to an actual village.
Yodaville, named after the call-sign of the Air Force officer who planned this range complex, it lies just north of the Mexican border in
New Mexico Arizona. By using mostly inert bombs and missiles, the containers can withstand quite a pounding before they need to be replaced. It also reduces the hazard of unexploded ordnance.