Hosting the Testers

Naval Base Ventura County has the sound of afterburners again while they play host to two squadrons from NAWS China Lake. All images copyright of the author.

NAS Point Mugu used to be home to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four (VX-4) and VX-5 until the Tomcat was retired in 1994. Since then, the only fighter jets have been visitors passing through. But for the past few weeks, and up until the third week of February, the base is housing VX-9 ‘Vampires’ and VX-31 ‘Dust Devils’ while their home base of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake has the runway resurfaced.

The base is home to a number of squadrons and has a wide mix of aircraft. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Thirty (VX-30) has a diverse fleet consisting of a variety of differently configured P-3 Orions, three S-3 Vikings and KC-130 and C-130 Hercules. All of the aircraft are used by the squadron on the Sea Test Range off the coast of California.

Also on the base are four Carrier Airborne Early Warning squadrons, which all operate the E-2C Hawkeye. The squadrons are: Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112 (VAW-112), VAW-113, VAW-116 & VAW-117.

The Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) provides the US Navy and US Marine Corps with dissimilar air combat training or red air. They use enemy tactics to train pilots for combat. They use the F-21 Kfir, Hawker Hunter and L-139.

Co-located within the base is the Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, where the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard are housed with their C-130J Super Hercules.

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