The Patuxent River [known to the Navy as "Pax River"] Naval Air Station Complex stretches across 25 miles of shoreline at the mouth of the Patuxent River, overlooking the picturesque Chesapeake Bay, 65 miles southeast of Washington DC and 90 miles south of Baltimore. The Complex supports naval aviation operations by researching, developing, testing and evaluating aircraft, aircraft components and related products. The facilities are also used by foreign governments, academic institutions and private industry for similar projects.
NAWC Patuxent River continues to serve as the Navy's principal research, development, test, evaluation, engineering and fleet support activity for naval aircraft, engines, avionics, aircraft support systems and ship/shore/air operations. In addition the installation hosts the Navy Test Pilot School, and both NAS Patuxent River and the nearby OLF Webster 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 (VQ-4 Det).
As of August 2004, NAS Patuxtent River was one of only Five locations in the Department of Defense to operate the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) air radar. The STARS radar allows the facility to simulate air traffic for training purposes. With built-in software, the digital STARS allows controllers the ability to simulate any number of inbound and outbound air traffic, and the target simulators perform with the same type of climb, descent and turn rates, with approach speeds of the actual type of aircraft it is simulating. This simulator has the ability to run a 200-aircraft training scenario with any type of military or civilian aircraft. The other facilities operating such a system were four other locations: NAVSTA Rota, Spain, in Norfolk, Va., Camp Pendelton, Calif., and Willow Grove, Pa.
The Complex covers approximately 6,500 acres at the station itself with an additional 850 acres at the Webster Field Annex, located about 13 miles southwest of the station in St. Inigoes, Maryland. The Patuxent River complex encompasses five acres at Point Lookout, the southern most tip of St. Mary's County. 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 original NAS Patuxent building was numbered 101 and current new construction is in the 3,000 series. And that doesn't include the almost 780 housing units on base. The facility has one of the biggest airfields on the East Coast with a 2-1/2 mile long main runway. In addition to Navy Commands that research, test and develop naval air equipment, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIRSYSCOM) headquarters moved to NAS Patuxent in 1996. Other building occupants include the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, New Housing Welcome Center, the Propulsion System Evaluation Facility (PSEF), and two huge buildings called the North Engineering and South Engineering site.
The Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River was commissioned on April 1, 1943, in an effort to centralize widely dispersed air testing facilities established during the pre-World War II years. Spurred on by the events of World War II, the consolidation effort was swift, and farming operations at Cedar Point, Maryland were replaced by flight test operations within a year after ground was broken in 1942.
Naval Air Station Patuxent River was born of an effort to centralize widely dispersed air testing facilities established during the pre-World War II years. Spurred by events of World War II, the consolidation effort was swift, and the farming operations at Cedar Point, Maryland, were replaced by flight test operations within a year after ground was broken in 1942. Rear Admiral John S. McCain, then chief of the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics, called Patuxent River "the most needed station in the Navy" during the commissioning ceremony on April 1, 1943.
The Naval Air Test Center was established as a separate entity on June 16, 1945, organizationally dividing the test and support functions. During World War II, hundreds of combat experienced pilots arrived here to test airplanes. Formalized classroom instruction started in 1948 with the establishment of a Test Pilot Training Division.
During the Korean War, Pax was faced with developing jet aircraft and improving existing conventional weapons for the war effort. In 1953, the Tactical Test Division merged with the Service Test Division. The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School was established in 1958 and the Weapons Systems Test Division was established in 1960. Four of original seven astronauts were TPS graduates. In 1961, former Navy test pilot Alan Shepard became the first American in space.
A reorganization took place in 1975, preparing NATC for its role as the Naval Air Systems Command's principal site for development testing. The "new" NATC was comprised of Strike Aircraft, Antisubmarine Aircraft, Rotary Wing Aircraft and Systems Engineering Test directorates. The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School remained intact.
A major upgrading of test facilities began in the late 1970s. Reflecting changes spurred by this technological growth, the 1980s saw the Computer Services Directorate become the Computer Sciences Directorate, the Technical Support Directorate become the Range Directorate, and the Antisubmarine Aircraft Test Directorate become the Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate.
The Special Trials Facility located at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, is under the management of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division's Combatant Craft Department. It was established in 1971 to support the Surface Effects Ship Program. It currently supports a wide variety of vehicle research, development, test and evaluation projects. The site facilities, which are located on a protected harbor, include pier space, a synchrolift drydock and transfer system, high-bay boat house space, offices, shops capable of limited construction, and a variety of other support instrumentation and equipment.
Two Naval Air Warfare Centers were established to integrate sites and capabilities to improve services to the fleet and sponsors. NAWC streamlined its resources into two divisions: the Aircraft Division located here and the Weapons Division, at China Lake, Calif. The standup of the NAWC Aircraft Division at Pax River took place on January 1, 1992, and began its role as the Navy's full spectrum research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E), engineering, and fleet support center for air platforms.
Over $155 million in Military Construction has been spent for new engineering complexes and renovation of existing facilities as a result of Base Realignment and Closure actions that relocated personnel from NAWC Aircraft Division sites at Warminster, Pa., and Trenton, N.J. to Patuxent River. The Naval Air Systems Command located in Crystal City, Va., was relocated here in 1997 as a result of Base Realignment and Closure legislation.
The post-Cold War shift from the threat of nuclear superpower confrontation to regional conflicts has required the military services to redefine their roles and identify the types of weapons and platforms most effective to future success in regional conflicts. Concurrent with the rise of regional conflicts has been a trend of significant reductions in national defense spending.
The Patuxent River Complex has been affected by the 1991, 1993, and 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) decisions to relocate Naval Aviation Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) facilities from Warminster, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey and Naval Air Systems headquarters from Arlington, Virginia to the Complex. These realignments and consolidation of their assets positioned NAWCAD to carry out its mission as the Navy's principal RDT&E, engineering, and fleet support activity for Naval fixed and rotary wing aircraft and associated systems from acquisition through all life cycle phases.
The Navy relocated thousands of jobs to the Patuxent River Complex during 1993, 1995, and 1997. With the consolidation now complete, the station hosts three major Navy commands, the Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, and the Air Test Wing Atlantic. The station is also home to 52 other tenant commands and several squadrons.
With the consolidation, the Navy has become the largest employer in the community. More than 17,000 people are now stationed at the Complex. This workforce includes more than 3,000 active duty service members, approximately 6,900 civil service employees, 6,400 defense contractor employees, and 370 non-appropriated-fund employees. In addition, the station services almost 2,000 military dependents.
In response to these changes, NAWCAD recognized the need to initiate a strategic planning initiative that included the preparation of an Integrated Management Plan for the NAWCAD-controlled assets in the Patuxent River Complex. The implementation of the plan will enable the Navy to meet its commitment to conserve and protect the unique natural and cultural resources of the Patuxent River Complex and Chesapeake Bay while protecting human health and welfare. The Integrated Management Plan will provide a framework within which NAWCAD can efficiently and effectively utilize the assets under its control to meet its strategic planning initiatives while complying with applicable local, state, and Federal laws. However, prior to NAWCAD adoption of the Integrated Management Plan, compliance with NEPA is required. The preparation of an EIS will meet these NEPA requirements.
Naval Air Station Patuxent River is now known as the center of excellence for naval aviation. Pax River hosts the full spectrum of acquisition management, research and development capabilities, air and ground test and evaluation, aircraft logistics and maintenance management. This distinctive synergy supports land based and maritime aircraft and engineering, T&E, integration, and life cycle support for ship/shore electronics. These combined capabilities are unique within the Department of Defense and ensure Naval Air Station Patuxent River's status as an aviation leader working effectively to continue progress into the 21st century.
NAS Patuxent River hosts the full spectrum of acquisition management, research and development capabilities, air and ground test and evaluation (T&E), aircraft logistics and maintenance management. This distinctive synergy supports land based and maritime aircraft and engineering, T&E, integration, and life cycle support for ship/shore electronics. These combined capabilities are unique within the Department of Defense and ensure Patuxent River's status as an aviation leader.
In addition to bringing a larger workforce to Southern Maryland, the Complex has expanded facilities in recent years. Over the past two decades, the Complex has grown to include a manned flight simulator, an aircraft anechoic chamber, an air combate environment test and evaluation facility, the Capt. Steven A. Hazelrigg Flight Test Facility, an aircraft test and evaluation facility, the U. S. Naval Test Pilot School academic building and Aviation Survival Training Center.
These new facilities have significantly improved aviation safety and the quality of naval aviation products. With the consolidated workforce and expanded facilities, the Patuxent River Naval Air Station Complex has become the place where the future of naval aviation begins.
Pre-1943 buildings still exist at the Naval Air Station, and others are interpreted through archaeological sites. Most notable of these are, Mattapany (now Quarters A) circa 1740, and Susquehanna, the site of a circa 1840 house that was moved to Henry Ford's Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Recently, all of Patuxent River's World War II buildings, such as airplane hangers, were evaluated for National Register eligibility.
The fundamental and inherent cultural resource management challenge of this cutting-edge testing facility is to perform the Navy mission while simultaneously preserving and promoting the station's historic context. NAS Patuxent River has historically risen to these challenges. In 1981, the first cultural resources survey was conducted at the Naval Air Station by the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), thus initiating a proactive and productive partnership with the MHT that endures today. Maintaining and updating a complete and accurate inventory of all station cultural and historical resources is the primary emphasis of the NAS cultural resources management program.
Patuxent River is located in a remote area and public transportation is not available. The nearest passenger terminals are located in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area. A Patuxent River shuttle bus is available from Ronald Reagan National Airport. Passengers arriving at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) or Dulles International Airport can take the commercial shuttles available to Ronald Reagan National Airport.
St. Mary's County (home of NAS, Patuxent River), lies at the confluence of the Potomac River, the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay, approximately one hour's drive south of Washington, D.C. The population of the county is estimated at 85,000. The major highways in the St. Mary's County are Maryland Routes 4, 5, and 235, which are linked to highways U.S. 301 and I-95. The area provides great opportunities for boating, fishing, sailing, and crabbing.
St. Mary's County is a treasure trove of colonial history and unspoiled wetlands. Leonard Calvert and his group of colonists landed on the shores of St. Clement's Island on March 25, 1634. Two days later, they sailed the ARK and the DOVE down the St. Mary's River to establish St. Mary's City. Established in 1637, St. Mary's County became known as the Mother County of Maryland. This was the first colony to practice religious tolerance and the first to have peaceful relation with the native Indians. St. Mary's County was the site of Maryland's first capital and the first site to place a black person in a governmental position, as well as the site of the first request for women's right to vote. St. Mary's County has 25 listings in the National Register of Historical Places.
In it 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign NAS Patuxent River by relocating Subsurface Maritime Sensors, Electronic Warfare, and Electronics Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation of the Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division to Naval Station Newport, RI. These recommended realignments and consolidations would provide for multifunctional and multidisciplinary Centers of Excellence in Maritime C4ISR. This recommendation would also reduce the number of technical facilities engaged in Maritime Sensors, Electronic Warfare, & Electronics and Information Systems RDAT&E from twelve to five. This, in turn, would reduce overlapping infrastructure increase the efficiency of operations and support an integrated approach to RDAT&E for maritime C4ISR. Another result would also be reduced cycle time for fielding systems to the warfighter. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 78 jobs (34 direct jobs and 44 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Lexington Park, MD, Micropolitan Statistical Area (0.2 percent).
In another recommendation, DoD would realign Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, by relocating all Weapons and Armaments Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation, except the Program Executive Office and Program Management Offices in Naval Air Systems Command, to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA. All actions would relocate technical facilities with lower overall quantitative Military Value (across Research, Development & Acquisition and Test & Evaluation) into the Integrated RDAT&E center and other receiver sites with greater quantitative Military Value. Consolidating the Navy's air-to-air, air-to-ground, and surface launched missile RD&A, and T&E activities at China Lake, CA, would create an efficient integrated RDAT&E center. China Lake would be able to accommodate with minor modification/addition both mission and lifecycle/ sustainment functions to create synergies between these traditionally independent communities. This recommendation would enable technical synergy, and position the Department of Defense to exploit center-of-mass scientific, technical and acquisition expertise with weapons and armament Research, Development & Acquisition that resided at 10 locations into the one Integrated RDAT&E site, one specialty site, and an energetics site. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 543 jobs (258 direct jobs and 285 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Lexington Park, MD, Micropolitan Statistical Area (1.0 percent).
In another recommendation, DoD would realign Wright Patterson Air Force Base, OH, by relocating Air Force Materiel Command V-22 activities in rotary wing air platform development and acquisition to Patuxent River. DoD would also realign the Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, NJ, by relocating activities in rotary wing air platform development, acquisition, test and evaluation to Patuxent River. This Air Land Sea & Space (ALSS) recommendation would realign and consolidate activities that were primarily focused on Rotary Wing Air Platform activities in Development, Acquisition, Test and Evaluation (DAT&E). This action would enhance the Joint Center at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), Patuxent River. The end state of this recommendation would build upon existing rotary wing air platform technical expertise and facilities in place at the two principal sites and provides focused support for future aviation technological advances in rotorcraft development. The planned component moves would enhance synergy by consolidating rotary wing work to major sites, preserving healthy competition, and leveraging climatic/geographic conditions and existing infrastructure, minimize environmental impact. These consolidations would co-locate aircraft and aircraft support systems with development and acquisition personnel to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of rotary wing air platform design and development activities. Environmentally, this recommendation might have a minimal impact on cultural, archeological, and tribal resources and threatened and endangered species at Patuxent River.
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