Naval Air Station Fallon

Naval Air Station Fallon
Naval Air Station Fallon
Van Voorhis Field
NASFallon logo.jpg
1988 Aerial view of NAS Fallon.jpg
Aerial view of NAS Fallon, 1988
Airport type Military: Naval Air Station
Owner United States Navy
Location Churchill County, near Fallon, Nevada
Built June 10, 1944
In use Active
Commander Captain Michael H. Glaser
Elevation AMSL 3,934 ft / 1,199 m
Coordinates 39°25′30″N 118°42′10″W / 39.425°N 118.70278°W / 39.425; -118.70278Coordinates: 39°25′30″N 118°42′10″W / 39.425°N 118.70278°W / 39.425; -118.70278
Direction Length Surface
ft m
7/25 7,004 2,135 PEM
13L/31R 11,077 3,376 Concrete
13R/31L 14,003 4,268 PEM
Source: FAA[1] and official website[2]

Naval Air Station Fallon or NAS Fallon (IATA: NFLICAO: KNFLFAA LID: NFL) is the United States Navy's premier air-to-air and air-to-ground training facility. It is located southeast of the city of Fallon in western Nevada in the United States. Since 1996, it has been home to the Naval Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), and the surrounding area contains 84,000 acres (34,000 ha) of bombing and electronic warfare ranges. It is also home to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC), which includes TOPGUN, the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (TOPDOME) and the Navy Rotary Wing Weapons School. Navy SEAL Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) training also takes place here.

The base is named Van Voorhis Field in honor of Lieutenant Bruce Van Voorhis (1908-1943) who was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor

NFL - FAA airport diagram.gif



The airfield at NAS Fallon was originally built in 1942 as part of a defensive network to repel a hypothetical Japanese invasion of the west coast. It was soon taken over by the Navy for training use and has been used as such ever since with the exception of the period of 1946 to 1951, during which it was used by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. On January 1, 1972, the Navy recognized NAS Fallon's importance to naval aviation by upgrading the base to a major command. While NAS Fallon provides training for visiting Carrier air wings, the Strike Fighter Squadron 127 (VFA-127), the "Desert Bogeys", was the air station's only permanently based squadron from October 1987 until it was disestablished on March 23, 1996.

The Navy relocated its Navy Fighter Weapons School, or TOPGUN, from NAS Miramar to NAS Fallon in 1996, following the transfer of NAS Miramar to the Marine Corps and its redesignation as MCAS Miramar. This move resulted in the construction of a new ramp, hangars and academic buildings. The new command, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC), was established on July 11, 1996 and was a unification of TOPGUN, Strike University (Strike U), the Naval Strike Warfare Center, and TOPDOME, the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School. In addition to transferring the NSAWC squadron, a Navy Reserve adversary squadron, Fighter Squadron Composite THIRTEEN (VFC-13), the "Saints," was also permanently relocated from its former base at NAS Miramar to NAS Fallon. As a result, VFC-13 replaced the disestablished VFA-127 in the fighter adversary role.

Associated bombing ranges checker the surrounding Lahontan Valley and Dixie Valley, which is the next valley to the east. Dixie Valley also contains a simulated air defense network, including approximately 20 operational radar installations. Many demilitarized armored vehicles, including some exotics, have been scattered throughout the area, presumably for ambiance. Most of this area is publicly accessible, with the exception of areas immediately surrounding the radar installations.

USAF Radar Station

Between 1956 and 1975, the United States Air Force Air Defense Command 858th Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron operated a General Surveillance Radar station at NAS Fallon. Designated as ADC site SM-156 (later NORAD site Z-156), the squadron operated on the south central section of the station. It initially activated AN/MPS-7 search and AN/MPS-14 height-finder radar sets, and initially the station functioned as a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and warning station. As a GCI station, the squadron's role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit's radar scopes. An AN/FPS-3 search set briefly saw service in 1959.

During 1962 Fallon AFS joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, initially feeding data to DC-16 at Stead AFB, Nevada. After joining, the squadron was re-designated as the 858th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 December 1962. The radar squadron provided information 24/7 the SAGE Direction Center where it was analyzed to determine range, direction altitude speed and whether or not aircraft were friendly or hostile. Also in this time frame, the radar site was relocated from the original location in the south central part of the Naval Air Station grounds to the far southwest corner. At the new SAGE radar site, the squadron used an AN/FPS-35 search radar that replaced the AN/MPS-7 set in 1963. In 1964 an AN/FPS-6 height-finder radar was added.

In addition to the main facility at NAS Fallon, the squadron also operated a remote AN/FPS-14 Gap Filler site:

Around 1965 Fallon became an FAA/ADC joint-use facility. The AN/MPS-14 radar was retired in 1969. In the early 1970s, the AN/FPS-35 was replaced with an AN/FPS-66A.

Over the years, the equipment at the station was upgraded or modified to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the information gathered by the radars. The 858th Radar Squadron (SAGE) was deactivated in June 1975. The FAA retained the AN/FPS-66A search radar, still in-use today and is networked into the Joint Surveillance System (JSS); the radar tower still is painted with ADC red-and-white checkerboard.[3][4]


  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for NFL (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2008-09-25.
  2. ^ Naval Air Station Fallon, official website
  3. ^ A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  4. ^ Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.

External links

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