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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.


S-3B Viking from VX-30 Bloodhounds. This aircraft is painted to celebrate the Centenary of Naval Aviation in 2010.

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.

This Grumman G159 belongs to Phoenix Air and delivers workers to Point Mugu.

F/A-18C Hornet XE-302 from VX-9.

F/A-18E Super Hornet 'XE-100' with VX-9 'Vampires'.

F/A-18D Hornet 'XE-444' from VX-9

F/A-18C Hornet 'XE-303' from VX-9

F/A-18F Super Hornet 'XE-260' from VX-9

EA-18G Growler 'XE-555' from VX-9

S-3B Viking from VX-30 Bloodhounds

E-2C Hawkeye 'NH-603' from VAW-117

The F-21 Kfir of Airborne Tactical Advantage Company is one of two based at Point Mugu.

The ATAC IAI Kfir N401AX is used against the US Navy and US Marine Corps as an aggressor aircraft in dissimilar air combat training.

C-130J '02-1464' from 146th Airlift Wing for the California Air National Guard.

C-130J '01-1461' from 146th Airlift Wing for the California Air National Guard. This aircraft commemorates the 9/11 attacks with a 'Let's Roll' sticker on the fuselage.

NP-3D 150522 '340' is fitted with the Cast Glance gyro-stabilized optical instrument. The system consists of a moving gyro-stabilised mirror with fixed optics, two fixed cameras and five sensors. The cameras look out of the starboard side of the aircraft. The system is photometric and enables the simultaneous recording of the electro-optical to the infrared spectrum and medium wave IR. The system provides photographic coverage of air-to-air, air-to-surface or surface-to-air test operations.

E-2C Hawkeye'NH-603' from VAW-117

E-2C Hawkeye 'NE-602' from VAW-113

E-2C Hawkeye 'NE-602' from VAW-113

F/A-18F Super Hornet 'XE-250' from VX-9

F/A-18F Super Hornet 'XE-230' from VX-9

F/A-18E Super Hornet 'XE-100' from VX-9

AC-130W Stinger II '1308' from 73rd Special Operations Squadron based at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

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Filed Under Military Aviation Features, Airshows Features.


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