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.
Approximately 90 miles north of the fleet in Norfolk, Va., and 65 miles south of the Nation's Capitol, the 14,500-acre complex includes the main station in Lexington Park, Webster Outlying Field in St. Inigoes, Naval Recreation Center Solomons in Calvert County, and Bloodsworth Island Range in the Chesapeake Bay. Of this acreage, the federal government acquired roughly 7,500 acres through eminent domain, inheriting a considerable inventory of pre-historic and historic resources.
Since its commissioning April 1, 1943, the installation has progressed from being known as the east coast’s Naval Air Transport Service base, testing experimental aircraft, equipment and material, into a Center of Excellence for Naval Aviation.
The workforce at the air station increased nearly tenfold in the mid-1990s when a round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) brought more than 20,000 military and civilian employees here as the air station it was selected to host the headquarters of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). In addition to NAVAIR and NAWCAD, this BRAC consolidation and integration effort also relocated more than 50 tenant activities to the air station.
Now, with little more than 800 employees assigned to the host naval air station staff, the civilian and military “Pax Pros” work hard to ensure the continued security, safety and first-class services are provided to all 20,000+ employees working aboard the installation.
Pax River's mission is to:
Provide outstanding base operating support to our mission tenant commands.
Deliver effective and efficient installation management enabling tenants to achieve integrated warfare systems and life cycle sustainment.
Champion all tenant's readiness for research, development, acquisition, testing and evaluation (RDAT&E), engineering and fleet support to the entire range of manned and unmanned 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.
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is headquartered at NAS Patuxent River and employs approximately 35,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel who are stationed at eight locations across the continental United States and one site overseas.
One of seven Navy acquisition systems commands, NAVAIR serves as the principal provider for naval aviation. NAVAIR's mission is 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. NAVAIR also provides analysis and decision support to assist Program Executive Offices (PEOs) and their program managers in balancing cost, schedule and performance.
NAVAIR has four affiliated PEOs:
• Tactical Aircraft Programs, commonly referred to as PEO (T)
• Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission Programs, or PEO (A)
• Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, or PEO (U&W)
• Joint Strike Fighter, or PEO (JSF), which alternates service lead with the U.S. Air Force.
Pax River is also home to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) headquarters. NAWCAD is the Navy's principal research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) engineering and fleet support activity for naval aircraft, engines, avionics, support systems, weapons, 5th generation weapon system integration and ship/shore/air integration.
NAWCAD offers a full range of acquisition support for air combat systems ranging from basic research to in-service engineering and logistics is offered. This is a unique service within the Department of Defense.
The Naval Test Wing Atlantic (NTWL) is part of NAVAIR's Integrated Systems Evaluation Experimentation and Test Department, and is composed of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Directorate and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
Partners in Excellence
In addition to the RDT&E and acquisition missions of NAVAIR and NAWCAD, there are also three squadrons: Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 4 and Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1.
The principal mission of VX-1 is to test and evaluate airborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and maritime anti-surface warfare (SUW) weapon systems, airborne strategic weapon systems, as well as support systems, equipment and materials in an operational environment. The squadron also develops, reviews and disseminates new ASW/SUW tactics and procedures for fleet use, serving as the model manager for all such tactical publications.
Home of the Warlocks. The mission of VXS-1 is to operate and maintain uniquely configured P-3 and C-12 aircraft in direct support of Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) airborne research projects. Additionally, the squadron provides reporting oversight for nine ScanEagle UAS and the Department of Defense's only airship, the MZ-3A. It's a mission that the squadron has safely executed for more than 50 years.
The “Take Charge and Move Out,” or TACAMO, mission of VQ-4 began in 1961 as a test program to determine if an airborne Very Low Frequency (VLF) communications system was feasible.
On July 1, 1968, the VQ-4 Detachment was established at NAS Patuxent River as a permanent operational squadron. The squadron’s homeport is in Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, but still has a detachment at NAS Pax River.
Since its commissioning, VQ-4 evolved into one of the largest operational aviation squadrons in today's Navy. A reflection of their extraordinary dedication to safety and operational excellence, the “Shadows” surpassed 38 years and 352,500 flight hours of Class A mishap-free operations.