NAVAIR Headquarters/NAWC Aircraft Division – Patuxent River, MD

Naval Air Station Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County, Md., is home to NAVAIR Headquarters, affiliated Program Executive Officers, and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. Conducting over 200,000 air operations annually, NAS Pax River hosts more than 50 tenants including three services, federal agencies and private industry.


Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

Products and Services

  • Full range of acquisition support for air combat systems ranging from basic research to in-service engineering and logistics (a unique service within the Department of Defense)
  • NAWCAD’s Test Wing Atlantic, composed of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron (VX-23), Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron (VX-20) and the Naval Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron (HX-21). Together these organizations maintain 140 aircraft (40 type/model/series).
  • Air Combat Environment Test & Evaluation Facility (ACETEF), which creates virtual battlespace for Electronic Warfare. Facilities include a manned flight simulator, large anechoic chamber, shielded hangar, computing center, electronic warfare integration system test lab, warfare simulation lab and threat air-defense lab. ACETEF can also link to other weapons systems platforms and DOD facilities to provide a mix of real and virtual players during operational test or training scenarios.
  • Atlantic Range Facility provides Electronic Warfare flight test capabilities, including EW sensor stimulation and measurements. Fifteen Electromagnetic Environmental Effects facilities at Pax can be used to ensure all aircraft avionics are compatible with other systems onboard the aircraft and with their intended operation environment.
  • Air Vehicles/Materials Labs and Facilities, including the adhesive bonding & technology lab, landing gear composite, organic coatings and surface interactions.
  • Air Vehicle Test & Analysis Capability, supported by facilities for materials analysis/non-destructive testing, failure analysis, engineering investigations, composite repair and coating evaluations
  • Dynamic Radar Cross Section Measurements that can characterize the radar signature in real time over multiple frequencies in a cost-effective manner.
  • Hush House for integrated airframe-engine testing to determine installed engine performance. The facility includes an enclosed test area with sound attenuation structure attached.
  • Propulsion Systems Evaluation Facility with 55 test and support areas. Its Central Computer Facility centralizes and organizes data from tests at Pax River, Tullahoma, Tenn. and Lakehurst, N.J.
  • Avionics/Mission and Sensors include the broad spectrum of mission systems and RF sensors including the Antenna Testing Laboratory Automated System, the Ship/Shore Communications and Electronics System Team at Webster Field. The Combat and Communication Systems team designs, integrates and tests communication systems and Ship’s Signal Exploitation Space equipment suites for Navy ship construction programs and provides in-service engineering for AEGIS CG 47 and DDG 51 class ships.
  • Crew Systems include the crew station technology lab, an ejection tower, a thermophysiology lab and a horizontal accelerator. The accelerator is used by the Navy, the National Transportation and Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and DOD.
  • Catapult and Arresting Gear complex for carrier suitability testing


The largest employer in St. Mary’s County, Md., NAS Patuxent River employs 9,800 civilian employees, 5,700 contractors and 2,400 active duty military personnel.


The air combat systems development functions conducted at Patuxent River require sea level altitude, a varied climate and a location near the sea to produce the test conditions essential for Naval aircraft. The climatic and geographic conditions unique to Patuxent River are crucial for the proper performance testing of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing vehicles in preparation for operations in the maritime environment.

  • Patuxent River encompasses more than 14,500 acres.
  • Estimated value of the facilities located on Patuxent River and Webster Field is $3.6 billion.
  • 740 separate buildings, including 10 hangars, with a total of over 8.4 million square feet of facilities.
  • Five runways (longest is 11,800 feet). 
  • Airspace: restricted - 4,000 square miles; controlled - 5,000 square miles.


The History of Naval Air Station Patuxent River (2 mb)