Naval Air Facility Centro is located in the heart of Southern California’s Imperial Valley. It is a two hour drive from San Diego and Palm Springs, one hour from Yuma, AZ, and fifteen minutes from the Mexican border.
With our year-round great flying weather and the proximity of several instrumented bombing ranges, we are an integral part of Naval Aviation Training.
Although small, NAF El Centro has a full array of support facilities: Commissary, Navy Exchange, Medical and Dental Clinics, Consolidated Officer/Chief Petty Officer and Enlisted Club, and a wide variety of recreational activities.
NAF El Centro’s mission is to provide the highest quality services to all units deploying here. El Centro is a popular training facility for many reasons, including excellent year round flying weather, close proximity to training ranges and phenomenal customer service.
Naval Air Facility El Centro provides realistic training to active and reserve aviation units and activities of the Navy’s operating and training forces. Squadrons visit NAF El Centro to practice gunnery, bombing, carrier landings and air combat.
The facility has two operating runways. The 9,500-foot east/west runway handles 96 percent of the traffic. It is equipped with a Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System at each approach end as well as lighted carrier deck landing areas at both ends so pilots can simulate carrier landings.
Apart from “touch and go” landings and take-offs, aircrews use the many ranges at NAF El Centro to develop their skills. A remote-controlled target area allows naval aviators to practice ordinance delivery. The desert range is used for air-to-ground bombing, rocket firing, strafing, dummy drops and mobile land target training. The target complex uses the Weapons Impact Scoring System that microwaves target images to a range master control building for immediate verification of weapons delivery accuracy.
The addition of the Display and Debriefing Subsystem, known as DDS, expanded the role of NAF El Centro to include air combat training by utilizing remote television, acoustical and laser scoring systems. The DDS is linked with TACTS to provide a computerized record of the tactics employed by individual aircrews employ and to evaluate the effectiveness of each maneuver. Many believe the training at NAF El Centro is as close as pilots can get to actual air combat.
Because if it’s unique location, NAF El Centro is known to every naval aviator and plays a key role in their initial and refresher training. What makes the NAF El Centro so special is its combination of unique climate, vast unobstructed desert terrain, limited non-military air traffic and its own dedicated gunnery and bomb ranges. These factors make NAF El Centro an ideal environment for aerial combat maneuvering, air-to-air gunnery, bombing practice and electronic warfare training. Variable climatic conditions and population are limiting factors at the Navy’s only other facilities with similar missions – Fallon, Nevada, and Key West, Florida. The result is that NAF El Centro is very busy and in high demand. For example, the number of flight operations (landings and take-offs) exceeded 167,000 in 1999. Flight operations on a typical day reach over 450 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
NAF El Centro and its personnel have a role of providing essential support to the squadrons and units training here. This includes flight operations, logistics, billeting, messing, hangars, ramps, aircraft parking space, administration and supply transport