The Patuxent River Naval Air Station complex stretches across 25 miles of shoreline at the mouth of the Patuxent River, overlooking the picturesque Chesapeake Bay. It's 65 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., and 90 miles south of Baltimore.
The complex, commonly referred to Pax River, supports naval aviation through its efforts in:
- Providing outstanding base operating support to its mission tenant commands;
- Delivering effective and efficient installation management, enabling tenants to achieve integrated warfare systems and life cycle sustainment; and
- Championing all tenants' readiness for research development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E), acquisition, engineering and fleet support to the entire range of manned and umanned naval aircraft, engines, avionics, aircraft support systems, and ship/shore/air operations.
The facilities at Pax River are also used by foreign governments, academic institutions and private industry for similar projects.
Headquartered at NAS Pax River is Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). It was established in 1966 as the successor to the Navy’s Bureau of Naval Weapons with a mission: To provide full life-cycle support of naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems operated by Sailors and Marines. This support includes research, design, development and systems engineering; acquisition; test and evaluation; training facilities and equipment; repair and modification; and in-service engineering and logistics support.
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Pax River continues to serve as the Navy's principal research, development, test & evaluation (RDT&E) aquisition, engineering and fleet support activity for naval aircraft, engines, avionics, aircraft support systems and ship/shore/air operations. NAWCAD is also the testing facility for the new V-22 Osprey.
The installation hosts the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and both the naval air station and the nearby Webster Outlying Field host Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operations, all of which regularly use the installation's airspace complex.
An additional mission is the detachment of the very high priority TACAMO mission – Take Charge and Move Out – with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 4.
The Pax River naval air station complex totals more than 14,500 acres, spanning across both St. Mary's and Calvert couties. Of this acreage, the federal government acquired roughly 7,500 acres through eminent domain, inheriting a considerable inventory of pre-historic and historic resources.
The station itself is situated on a peninsula between the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay, with Webster Outlying Field, located about 13 miles southwest of the station in St. Inigoes, and Naval Recreation Center Solomons in Calvert County also falling under its realm. The complex also encompasses a few acres at Point Lookout, the southern most tip of St. Mary's County.