report by: Thierry Letellier
Naval Air Station Fallon is located in western Nevada at 39° 25′ N, 118° 42′ W; fifty nautical miles east of Reno and six nautical miles southeast of the City of Fallon. Field elevation is 3934 feet above mean sea level. Nevada offers extremes of weather and climate not normally found in other states. Cut off from the moisture of the Pacific by the Sierra Nevada and Cascades mountain ranges, and from the moisture of the Gulf of Mexico by the Rocky Mountains, it is the driest of the fifty states. That were the perfect conditions to establish a Naval Aviation Training Air Station.
NAS Fallon was established as an Army airfield during World War II. The airfield was deactivated for several years after the war, and was reactivated in 1951 as a Navy Auxiliary Air Station. During the 1950’s the facility was used jointly by the Navy and Air Force, and the runway was extended to provide the station with the longest runway at a Naval Air Station ;
The 1980s saw the air station experiencing dramatic growth as a state-of-the-art air traffic control facility and new hangar were constructed. Naval Strike Warfare Center was established to be the primary authority for integrated strike warfare tactical development and training. In 1985, Fallon received a new tool to aid in its aircrew training: the Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System or TACTS. This system provides squadrons, carrier air wings and students from Naval Strike Warfare Center with visual, graphic displays of their missions eliminating the guess work. Strike Fighter Squadron 127, the “Desert Bogeys” aggressors moved to NAS Fallon in 1987, becoming the air station’s only permanently based squadron
Aircraft currently stationed at NAS Fallon include the F/A-18 A/C/E/F + E/A18G , and F-5F / N jet aircraft, and the MH-60 helicopters. The Naval Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School and a Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) have recently relocated here. . Currently NAS Fallon is the only Naval Facility where advanced integrated Carrier Air Wing strike training can take place, combining realistic flight training in electronic warfare, air-to-ground, air-to-air weapons delivery, special weapons delivery, and enemy evasion tactics. Military aircraft from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Nevada Air National Guard usually train at NAS Fallon.
The “Fighting Saints” of VFC-13 can trace their origins back to 1946, when VF-753 was commissioned flying F6F-5 “Hellcats.” Today’s squadron was formed on Sept. 1, 1973, at NAS New Orleans during the reorganization of the U.S. Naval Reserve. As the demand for west coast adversary services and other fleet support missions increased, the squadron was permanently transferred to NAS Miramar, arriving there in February 1976. In April 1996, the command relocated to NAS Fallon and made the transition to the F-5E/F Tiger II, supported by McDonnell Douglas contract maintenance. To carry out its adversary mission the squadrons operates a fleet of 24 F-5E/F Tigers.
The aging aircraft are replaced by low-houred F-5E/F acquired from the Swiss Air Force surplus. Since technology has been well improved since the F-5E/F, also the possible threats have become more advanced. For this reason the US Navy is already operating the F/A-18 in the aggressor role in other squadrons. Most likely the F-5E/Fs of VFC-13 will eventually also be replaced by the Hornet. VFC-13 is no exception when it comes to non-standard camouflage schemes for aggressor aircraft.
The Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) was formed in July 1996 by the BRAC-driven consolidation of the Naval Strike Warfare Center (NSWC or “Strike University”), the Naval Fighter Weapons School (NFWS or “Top Gun”) and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (CAEWWS or “Top Dome”). NSAWC assets include 40 aircraft and over 1,000 personnel including contract range and aircraft maintenance personnel. Also present during this visit to NAS Fallon the fighting squadrons from CVW- with VFA-11 – VFA-81 – VFA-136 and VFA-211 both equiped with FA-18 E/F plus the E-2D from VAW-126. We would like to thank Mr Zip Upham for this outstanding visit.