A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C attached to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center crashed on Saturday while conducting a training flight about 70 miles east of Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. The death of the single pilot on board the aircraft was only confirmed by the US Navy Sunday night after rescue crews finally gained access to the wreckage following a snow storm in a mountainous remote area, the Navy announced.
The Largest Training Complex For Aerial Combat
NAS Fallon presents the US Navy with the largest most comprehensive tactical air warfare training facility in the nation known as the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC), permitting the employment of a full carrier air wing thanks to the presence of the US Navy’s longest active runway at 14,000 ft, and access to more than 10,200 square miles of airspace east of NAS Fallon. This area hosts 4 bombing ranges and one electronic warfare range complete with a vast array of electronic support equipment. On July 11th 1996, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) that had been brought to Fallon NAS in 1984 was augmented with the Navy Fighter Weapons School most famously known as TOPGUN, and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School known as TOPDOME both formerly operating at NAS Miramar and now falling under the unified command of a two-star admiral. This consolidation effort allowed the NSAWC to become THE preeminent establishment for providing aerial warfare combat tactics expert training and development to naval aviators.
According to its web site, NSAWC activities encompass integrated strike warfare, maritime and overland air superiority, strike fighter employment, airborne battle management, Combat Search and Rescue, Close Air Support, and associated planning support systems.
Typically “TOPGUN” would pace naval aviators through the highly sought after Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) course, the SEAHAWKS Rotary Wing Weapons School would focus on providing advanced helicopter employment education, the Growler Weapons School ensuring graduate level training for the EA-18G Growler aircraft, the Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile department dedicated to that weapon system and also the critical Advanced Mission Commander’s Course (AMCC) which enhances the airborne battle management skills required for E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning And Control Systems crews.
Aggressor and Bandits Units At NAS Fallon
The aerial portion of the adversary Dissimilar air combat training (DACT) conducted there is generally provided by the resident unit Fighter Composite Squadron VFC-13 Flying Saints (callsign “Bogeys”) which has relied on highly maneuverable F-5Es Tiger II aircraft since 1996 against visiting carrier-assigned units. Together with the Flying Saints, NSAWS attached aircraft consisting of F/A-18A/B/C/D/E/F Hornets and Super Hornets and F-16s aircraft flown by US Navy “TOPGUN instructors” participate in providing realistic aggressors and bandits air combat scenarios. The Navy said it was investigating the cause of the accident.