The Naval Air Station Patuxent River is located across the shoreline at the mouth of the Patuxent River, 65m southeast of Washington DC and 90m south of Baltimore. NAS Patuxent River is a major research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) site for aircraft, components and associated systems of the US naval aviation. The facilities are also used by foreign governments, academic institutions and private industry for similar purposes.
NAS Patuxent River houses more than 17,000 personnel including 3,000 active duty service members, about 6,900 civil service employees, 6,400 defence contractor work force members and 370 non appropriated fund (NAF) employees.
Location and layout
NAS Patuxent River is spread over an area of 26km² on a peninsula in the middle of Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay. The naval air station comprises large farms, Mattapany, Susquehanna, Cedar Point and vacation housing units. The Cedar Point area has churches, a post office, a gas station and naval quarters.
The naval air station complex also includes five acres at Point Lookout. Most of the pre-World War II buildings still exist at the Naval Air Station.
NAS Patuxent River history
NAS Patuxent River was commissioned in April 1943 as a flight testing facility. The test and support operations were divided with the formation of Naval Air Test Centre (NATC) in June 1945.
The facility was used by hundreds of experienced pilots to test military aircraft during World War II. The Test Pilot Training Division was established in 1948.
The development of jet aircrafts and improvements to conventional weapons took place at the facility during the Korean War. The US Naval Test Pilot School (TPS) was opened in 1958 and the Weapons Systems Test Division was commissioned at the air station in 1960.
The Special Trials Facility was established in 1971. NATC was reorganised in 1975 and became a development testing site for the Naval Air Systems Command. A major upgradation that began in the late 1970s resulted in newly re-formed test facilities by the 1980s.
The Naval Air Warfare Centre Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) was established in January 1992. Several research and testing facilities of decommissioned bases were transferred to NAS Patuxent River from 1991 to 1995 under the Base Realignment and Closure Act.
Base operations at NAS
NAS Patuxent River is home to three major Navy commands, including the Naval Air Systems Command headquarters, the NAWC Aircraft Division and the Air Test Wing Atlantic. The station also hosts 52 tenant commands and squadrons.
The NAWC Patuxent River is a RDT&E centre for naval aircraft, aircraft parts and support systems. It also serves as a testing facility for the V-22 Osprey aircraft. The Air Operations department handles 165,000 air operations per year.
It manages two naval airfields and air traffic control services. The naval air station also features a Navy Test Pilot School and a Propulsion System Evaluation Facility (PSEF). The facility also supports Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations.
The Special Trials Facility supports a range of aircraft RDT&E projects. The facility at protected harbour houses pier space, boat house space, Syncrolift drydock and transfer systems. It also features offices, workshops, support instrumentation and equipment.
The Ship and Shore Based Electronics Systems Competency is located at Webster Field Annex. It includes the Air Traffic Control Systems Division, Identification Systems Division, Special Communications Requirements Division and integrated Communications and Information Systems Division. NAS Patuxent River has family housing as well as a Navy Recreation Centre for the personnel of NAS and Tenant Commands.
Air facilities at the naval station
NAS Patuxent River features one of the biggest airfields on the East Coast. The airfield has a 2.5m long main runway and two secondary runways. The naval air station is equipped with a manned flight simulator, an aircraft anechoic chamber, shielded hangar, an air combat environment test and evaluation facility and an aircraft test and evaluation facility.
The facilities support the maintenance of air navigation and landing systems as well as ground electronic equipment. NAS Patuxent River also provides maintenance services for aircraft calling at the air station.
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