The students in the weapons and tactics instructor
(WTI) schools are mainly lieutenants on shore duty
after their first fleet tour who have been nominated by
their commanders and approved by the NSAWC staff.
After they complete the weapons schools, which last
nine to 12 weeks, some stay as NSAWC instructors,
others go to training squadrons or the aircraft type
weapons schools, to the flight test community or to
fleet replacement squadrons that train newly designated aviators to operate fleet aircraft. After that shore
tour, most will go to deploying squadrons as tactics and
weapons training officers.
That concept of training the trainer, to help improve
the tactical competence of the broader strike community, remains a key purpose of NSAWC.
Beyond that, the center develops the syllabus for the
individual squadrons’ tactical employment training,
much of which is done at Fallon.
The next level is the air wing training, which brings
every carrier air wing to Fallon for four weeks to put
the wing staff and all the squadrons through a “
high-end pace of tactical training” just prior to their carrier
deployment, Lewis said.
The center also conducts a strike leader course that
trains midgrade officers to plan, brief, execute and
debrief an air wing event, from individual missions to
“going downtown with everything he’s got,” he said.
Lewis said he thinks the other Navy warfare communities ultimately will do something similar to
NSAWC’s training concept, noting that the surface warfare community has started ASW and ballistic missile
defense WTI courses.
Although training is the dominant mission at NSAWC,
Lewis said he has other primary missions, which are devel-
oping TTPs for the entire strike community, providing
input to the requirements process and providing “naval
aviation subject matter expertise to the combatant com-
manders, through the naval component commanders.”
For that last mission, Lewis made recent trips to the
Pacific to confer with senior Navy and Air Force com-
manders, and to the Persian Gulf for similar discus-
sions with the senior leaders there.
The center’s work on developing TTPs deals not
only with naval aviation, “we also do quite a bit with
our Air Force brethren,” Lewis said.
“We do quite a bit of work with the Air Force’s Air
Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base [Nev.] Specifically our Growlers are doing a lot of work with
them,” he added.
That coordination between the Navy’s and the Air
Force’s premier air combat centers was highlighted in
an article in the May 16 issue of Foreign Policy in
which Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval
operations, and Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief
of staff, discussed their joint efforts to counter the anti-
access, area-denial threat.
“As part of Air-Sea Battle we are pursuing this type
of inter-service cooperation between all the services, as
well as within each branch of each service,” the two
service leaders wrote.
Although NSAWC does not have a primary role in set-
ting requirements for tactical aircraft, Lewis said, it uses its
training experiences and inputs from the combatant com-
manders to make suggestions on “what an airplane should
look like, what the airplane needs to be able to do.”
Looking ahead, Lewis said that after a decade of naval
air conducting primarily counterinsurgency ground-
support missions with no anti-air threat, “I think we’re
going to transition to what we would call more high-end
warfighting skills, a greater percentage of the time.”
Naval air has gotten very good at the missions it is
conducting in Afghanistan, he said, “but some of our
higher-end skills, air-to-air missions, higher-end
opposed strike missions, we have not trained to with
the same high level of effort.
“We’re starting to shift back to that because some of
our potential adversaries, both East and Far East, are
pretty capable. And we need to start getting back on
the step with near-peer competitors,” he said.
As with much of the Navy, NSAWC has seen the
impact from sequestration, with fewer air wings com-
ing due to canceled or delayed carrier deployments
and the painful furloughs of its few, but crucial civilian
employees. But the center has not cut any of its courses
and does not plan to, Lewis said.
“The Navy, naval aviation, has recognized that if we
stop running these tactical courses, we’re just eating
our seed corn,” he said. “We can’t do that.” n
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 22 SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2013
Lt. Michael “Pony Boy” Apone completes combat systems
checks before takeoff in an F/A-18C Hornet at the Naval
Strike and Air Warfare Center at Naval Air Station Fallon,
Nev., in December 2010. Apone was with Carrier Air Wing
8, which was undergoing air wing training before deploying
aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.