China Lake Naval Range
China Lake Naval Range

Location China Lake Naval Range

China Lake Naval Range

China Lake Naval Range is a vast weapons development facility and testing range. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Naval Range is the U.S. Navy’s single largest landholding. The Navy established China Lake as the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) in November 1943. Its mission was defined in a letter from the Secretary of the Navy, “a station having for its primary function the research, development, and testing of weapons,  having the additional function of furnishing primary training in the use of such weapons.” Testing began within a month of the Station’s formal establishment. The vast and sparsely populated desert has near perfect flying weather.  Practically unlimited visibility provides an ideal location not only for test and evaluation activities but also for a complete research and development establishment. Almost every munition in the US arsenal has been tested within this 1,723 square mile (more than a million acres) facility. Numerous laboratories and test ranges, located mostly in the north area of China Lake, support weapons development. In the southern portion of the reservation are electronic ranges that support training and weapons proving. China Lake is part of the Navy’s Western Test Range complex, along with White Sands and Point Mugu. There are two major geothermal power plants and numerous petroglyphs located in the Coso Mountains on the north end of the reservation. Also in the remote northeastern area is the Junction Ranch radar cross-section range.

Weapons developed at China Lake Naval Range

China Lake Naval Range

A U.S. Navy F9F-8 Cougar armed with AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles. The photo was taken in November 1956.

  • AAM-N-5 Meteor
  • AIM-9 Sidewinder
  • AGM-62 Walleye
  • AGM-45 Shrike
  • BOAR (rocket)
  • China Lake Grenade Launcher
  • Gimlet (rocket)
  • Holy Moses (rocket)
  • Hopi (missile)
  • LTV-N-4
  • Ram (rocket)
  • RUR-4 Weapon Alpha
  • Terasca
  • Tiny Tim (rocket)
  • Tomahawk missile
  • SLAM-ER
  • CL-20

Naples Museum of Military History

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