The newest program is the Growler weapons school
for the EA-18Gs, said Lewis, a career strike fighter pilot
who has commanded two squadrons and a carrier air
wing and has flown more than 100 combat missions.
The need for NSAWC came from a 1960s study, called
the Ault Report, that concluded Navy and Marine fighter
pilots in Vietnam were losing one fighter for every two
enemy MiGs they shot down because they had not been
trained in advanced air combat.
The Naval Fighter Weapons School was formed in 1968
and focused “almost exclusively on the air-to-air mission,”
Lewis said. That was enhanced into what became known
as “Strike U” in the early 80s, he said, “after we did some
strike missions in the Bekaa Valley, which were not well
executed,” referring to 1983 Navy air attacks into Lebanon
that resulted in the loss of two strike aircraft, the death of
one pilot and capture of another.
The need to improve air-to-ground skills, as well as
air to air, is why the programs were located at Fallon,
“where we could practice strike missions and really
take things down to the basics, and in an area where
we could drop live ordnance, where we could record
things, could assess how we were doing and not hiding
behind sea stories,” Lewis said.
A key attribute of NSAWC is the Fallon Range
Training Complex, which provides more than 10,200
square miles of airspace and ground bombing areas covered by an array of computer-aided electronic systems
that record each mission for post-flight analysis.
Because the MH-60s perform anti-submarine warfare
(ASW) and mine countermeasure missions, in addition
to surface warfare and other carrier-based tasks, Lewis
said, the Seahawk crews finish their training in San
That make sense because the basic air fighting unit
is not a single squadron, or a couple of squadrons, “it’s
the entire air wing that is the fighting element aboard
an aircraft carrier,” Lewis said.
“I would contend that the next step in the evolution
of this place is being able to pull in more of the inter-strike group things,” such as the surface and submarine strike assets, he said, adding that NSAWC already
involves the P-3C and the new P- 8 aircraft in the air
And Marines are heavily involved, as members of
the air center staff and in the Marine F/A- 18 squadrons
that come with the carrier air wings with which they
deploy, Lewis said.
21 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2013
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC),
communicates with a Navy MH-60S helicopter during takeoff as part of Carrier Air Wing Training conducted by the Naval
Strike and Air Warfare Center at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., April 7, 2011. During the exercise, MARSOC JTACs practiced their critical skills and renewed their currencies and qualifications.