While Arizona’s aerospace and defense industry claim top 10 spots nationally for manufacturing and employment, the military installations also are key drivers of the state’s economy and technology sector.


Arizona's military operations have contributed $11.46 billion to the state’s economy, making the military the second-highest sector behind distribution and electronic commerce, according to the “Economic Impact of Arizona's Principal Military Operations 2017” report released by Gov. Doug Ducey.


The report states Arizona’s six military installations and four National Guard operations are specifically responsible for more than $250 million in local and state tax revenue. Prepared by The Maguire Company of Phoenix, the study also revealed the state’s military installations were responsible for 76,714 direct and indirect jobs.


“This report reinforces just how important Arizona’s military bases are, not only to our national security, but to local communities throughout our state,” says Ducey. “We will continue to make preserving these installations a top priority to ensure they are viable long into the future.”


“Arizona’s military installations play a critical role in our vibrant aerospace and defense industry,” says Sandra Watson, president & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, which commissioned the report. “Preserving our bases and their vitality is key to Arizona’s business attraction efforts, as well as advancing the industry and creating more jobs in our state.” 


According to the report, three Arizona military installations are included on the list of Arizona’s 10 largest private employers. Based on data from fiscal year 2014, the top five military bases and their economic contributions were:


  • Fort Huachuca – $2.86 billion
  • Davis-Monthan Air Force Base – $2.6 billion
  • Luke Air Force Base – $2.4 billion
  • U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground – $1.12 billion
  • Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma – $877.6 million


With the military having such a large effect on the economy, it’s fitting to consider that personnel are using cutting-edge technology to meet their missions. Here are just three examples and details cited in the report:


Fort Huachuca – The fort’s mission is diverse: training for military intelligence and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) soldiers; operations platform supporting Army networks operations and tactical signal elements; and communications, intelligence and electronic warfare test and evaluation platform. The primary operational elements on the fort are the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion and the headquarters for Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), which is responsible for operating and defending the Army’s worldwide network. Because of the ideal terrain and topography of southeast Arizona, the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca is the primary location for developmental testing of all the Army’s communications-electronics systems as well as the operational testing of all the Army’s intelligence electronic warfare systems. The Buffalo Soldier Electronic Test Range provides a low electromagnetic noise environment that supports the fort’s diverse testing and training missions. The 946 square miles of airspace contained within the test range’s operations area is completely separate from any competing commercial air traffic corridors. Fort Huachuca has scheduling and operational control of the airspace, which includes Department of Defense UAS training with three restricted areas.


U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground – As Yuma County’s largest single employer of civilians and the county’s primary high-tech workplace, the proving ground’s test and development facilities are capable of testing nearly everything in the Army’s combat arsenal — from unmanned aircraft, cargo and personnel parachute systems to technologies that defeat roadside bombs. The proving ground features the most highly instrumented helicopter armament range maintained by the Department of Defense, more than 1,500 miles of fiber-optic cable linking test locations, the most modern mine test facility in the western hemisphere and a vertical wind tunnel.


U.S. Navy Naval Observatory-Flagstaff – At 7,600 feet above sea level, the observatory is the U.S. Navy’s highest elevation observatory. Contributing $8.7 million to the state’s economy, the facility is the U.S. Naval Observatory’s dark sky site for optical and near-infrared astronomy. The mission of the observatory is to make, analyze and interpret astrometric and photometric dark sky observations, and to conduct a research program that improves the observational methods and the accuracy of astronomical data required for the Navy and other components of the Department of Defense. The observatory also provides backup analysis of the Earth’s orientation. The observatory operates the Navy’s precision optical interferometer with Lowell Observatory and the Naval Research Laboratory at Anderson Mesa southeast of Flagstaff. The observatory operates several large telescopes and uses cryogenic camera systems. Although light pollution threatens its mission, the observatory has successfully managed to maintain its dark sky by working collaboratively with federal, state and local agencies, and private and commercial landowners.