Aerial Photos of NAWS China Lake, May 24, 2020


Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake is the United States Navy's primary test, evaluation and training facility for airborne weapons systems. The main base is located just north of Ridgecrest, CA. But the entire test and training range includes a total of 1.1 million acres or over 1,700 square miles. The range is divided into two ranges of roughly equal size by Hwy 178, referred to as the North Range and the South Range. The main base, shown in the photos below, is located at the south end of the North Range. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9, Vampires) and 31 (VX-31 Dust Devils) call China Lake home.

China Lake is sometimes referred to as the Navy's Area 51. It is a test and proving ground for new developments, technologies and employment strategies. In fact the base has ties to both Area 51 and TTR. There are semi-regular shuttle flights for personnel between these bases. And similar to the NTTR surrounding TTR and Area 51, the vast ranges surrounding the China Lake base are filled with all sorts of electronics gear for testing and simulation of ground threats. China Lake even has its own RCS range for test and development of stealth aircraft, called the Junction Ranch RCS Range.

The photos below were taken by our reconnaissance pilot Gabe Zeifman on Sunday May 24, 2020. Image editing and panoramas by Gary "The Skunk". Publication on Dreamland Resort with friendly permission.


Panorama of China Lake NAWS , looking down runway 14, roughly SE. The main base is near the center of the panorama. The remote facilities on the left are part of the base. The test and training range extends in that direction for 40 miles, almost up to Hwy 190 and Star Wars Canyon.


Another panorama looking south, showing the town of Ridgecrest in the background. The main gate is near the top left of the image.


Close-up of the main ramp area. Note the F/A-18 of VX-9 and VX-31 under the sun shelters. They are regular players at Star Wars Canyon

Related Links:

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake - Official Home Page

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake - by Military Installations

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake - Wikipedia


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