Air Test and Evaluation Squadron NINE [AIRTEVRON NINE] [VX-9]
The mission of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron NINE (VX-9) is three-fold, as defined by Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COTF) and Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet: to conduct independent operational testing (OT) of strike weapons systems including strike aircraft, conventional warfare equipment and electronic warfare equipment; to develop tactics and procedures for weapons systems employment; and to support the fleet. VX-9's operational chain of command is through COMOPTEVFOR and administratively the Squadron reports to Commander, Naval Air Force, US Pacific Fleet. COTF receives direction on which projects to undertake directly from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). However, Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific provides the aircraft and parts support, while the majority of test funding is supplied by various sponsoring activities.
VX-9, originally Air Development Squadron FIVE (VX-5), was commissioned on 18 June 1951 at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California, with 15 officers, 100 enlisted men, and nine AD Skyraider aircraft. The Squadron, under the operational control of Commander, Operational Development Force, now Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR), was assigned to develop and evaluate aircraft tactics and techniques for delivery of airborne special weapons.
Over the years, VX-5 maintained numerous detachments around the U.S. to take full advantage of the variety and diversity of facilities available, and to help keep the Squadron abreast of the latest fleet tactics. These detachments have included NAS Oceana, Virginia; Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility, Albuquerque, New Mexico; NAS Whidbey Island, Washington; and NAS Sanford, Florida.
In July 1956 VX-5 moved to the Naval Air Facility, China Lake, California, as an independent tenant command because of the availability of vastly improved ranges and instrumentation facilities. In January of 1985, the VX-5 Detachment at Whidbey Island, which oversaw developments relating to the EA-6B weapon system, was relocated to China Lake. Since then, temporary detachments have been made nationwide from Alaska to Florida, as required to test airborne weapons in a variety of conditions. To keep pace with the changes and improvements in Navy weapon systems since VX-5's commissioning, the Squadron's mission has evolved over the years to include independent operational test and evaluation of all air-dropped munitions destined for use in the attack role by the Fleet and Marine Corps; development of initial tactics to be employed with new weapon systems; and incorporation of electronic warfare advances into the self-defense capability of attack aircraft.
In June 1993, the CNO directed the consolidation of VX-4 and VX-5 into a single operational test and evaluation squadron designated as VX-9, with a permanent F-14 Detachment located at Point Mugu, California. This initiative was launched as part of the "right-sizing" of Naval Forces in the aftermath of the Cold War.
As of 2000, VX-9 had 67 officers, 350 enlisted personnel and 28 aircraft including the FA-18E/F Super Hornet, FA-18 Hornet, F-14 Tomcat, EA-6B Prowler, AV-8B Harrier, and AH-1 Cobra. Typically, aircrews are qualified in more than one of these aircraft types, increasing their versatility and providing broader based expertise to be applied to each project. VX-9's mission has grown to include the operational evaluation of attack, fighter, and electronic warfare aircraft, weapons systems and equipment, and to develop tactical procedures for their employment.
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