Nellis AFB Threat Training Facility : Inside the “Petting Zoo”
Article & Photos by Steven Valinski
December 13, 2014
Classified by the U.S. Government from 1970 until the early 90’s, the ACC Threat Training Facility, affectionately known as the “Petting Zoo”, maintains former Warsaw Pact nation weapons and equipment for the purpose of using them as training aids. Operated by the 547th Intelligence Squadron, this facility houses aircraft, tanks, surface-to-air guns, missiles, handguns, rifles, and more, which were used as beneficial training aids during the Cold War.
While some people could assume that due to the age and relevance of some of the objects at the facility, they are not as relevant as a training aid today. This is not the case. For example, the Mil Mi-24 “Hind” attack helicopter continues to be used by over 20 countries and the Soviet-made/designed RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and AK-47 are still widely used by many countries. Many of these artifacts-turned-training aids were collected during wars and conflicts the U.S. participated in including: the Vietnam War, and both Gulf Wars.
For aviation photographers and enthusiasts, some notable specimens include the aforementioned Mi-24 “Hind”, a Mi-14 “Haze”, a Sukoi Su-7, a MiG-17, and a Mig-21. Perhaps one of the more interesting specimens is a Mig-29 Fulcrum, one of two located at Nellis AFB. The MiG-29 Fulcrum is still considered a high-performing fighter and continues to be flown by several countries including: Iran, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Poland.
While the Nellis AFB ACC Threat Training Facility is no longer classified, it continues to serve as an educational facility. This facility has a unique and interesting collection of past and current adversary weapons. The facility is now open to anyone who has access to Nellis AFB such as current and former military personnel. The facility gets thousands of visitors each year. The following gallery takes a looking inside the “Petting Zoo”: