Helendale Avionics Facility - Lockheed Martin Location
This facility is located on approximately 9 square miles (over 5,700 acres) of land, about 5 miles north of Helendale and just west of the Mojave River. It has a site address of 17452 Wheeler Road, Helendale CA 92342.
History and Property Ownership
This fairly new range, and most mechanically sophisticated of the ranges, was constructed as an initial phase in 1983 and expanded in 1985. Its official name is the Helendale Avionics Facility and is owned and operated by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.
At this time, Lockheed actually owns outright only one square mile, Section 33 of T9N, R4W, the parcel the majority of the range is on. Lockheed leases the remainder.
Lockheed first took control of Section 33 August 11, 1979, by means of a lease, with option to buy, from the previous owners, the Seino family. Officially however, the lease was not to Lockheed, but rather an attorney, J. Gregg Evans of Los Angeles. Evans apparently was a front for Lockheed in the transaction, and the previous owners may not have known who they were really dealing with. On July 20, 1981 the lease was recorded, omitting specific details. It wasn’t until December 7, 1989 that Lockheed officially took title to the parcel by exercising their option to buy clause in the lease
The remaining 8 square miles making up the facility are owned by a division of Southern Pacific Land Company (The railroad people) called Catellus Development Corporation, located in San Francisco. The property came into Southern Pacific’s hands on July 7, 1981, when it was granted ownership, by way of a patent, directly from the US government. Presumably, they immediately turned around and entered into a long term lease with Lockheed for these parcels.
There were two phases to the development of Lockheed’s facility at Helendale, the first beginning in 1982, at a cost of $15-20 million. This first phase, becoming operational in October of 1983, was a relatively modest installation with target locations downrange 2,500' and 5,000' from the operations complex and antenna array. The overall length at the time was 5,500'.
The expansion of the Helendale facility to what it is today, or “HELEX, Phase 2,” as it was known, began in early 1985 and was completed by the end of that year. The project was also known as the Area 20 range extension. This expansion lengthened the range to 8,200', added a new target position and built the massive concrete structure at the end of the range known as the “Upper Chamber.” The plans were prepared in late 1984 by the H.K. Ferguson Company of San Francisco, a subsidiary of Morrison-Knudsen.