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NAWS China Lake – Northwest Annex Mystery

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posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 02:26 PM
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Hey all,

so this is just a small thing, maybe nothing, maybe there is an obvious answer. But maybe its something more and worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in Ridgecrest, California is a weird place in itself. Its basically the Navys RDT&E facility, kinda like Edwards, TTR, Palmdale and Groom blended together. Naturally there are lots of rumors about whats going on there, one oft he jucier ones is this excerpt in regards to certain triangle sightings in the recent years:


[…] Or is it possible that the A-12 Avenger prototypes that some have claimed were in fact built and housed at NAWS China Lake, have finally come out of the black in spectacular fashion now that the court proceedings surrounding the defunct program have finally been ended? […]

foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com...

The quest to find out what happened during the last days oft he A-12 program, especially to the money already allocated by Congres for production is rather interesting, but not the point of this thread.

Instead i’d like to focus on the base itself, or to be precise, the annex they built just off to the northwestof the main base facilities. This is what it looks like in 2017:
i.imgur.com...
i.imgur.com...

Why is this interesting?
Its new, actually pretty unneccessary and rather secluded.

The Navy took their time building it. The runway was built sometime in 2006. The first hangar went up mid 2009 – early 2010 and between 2013 and 2017 two more hangars were built.
As to how secluded it is, look at were the freshly paved road leads on Google Earth. It connects to the Range Access Road on the other side of the base. It may just be off the main runway, but its very remote and not easy to get too.

Question is why they built it.
Why the need for a secluded launch facility on an already secret base? With its own private runway no less. Its not like they have a shortage of them over there.
So obviously they have something important enough going on, to build up this infrastructure.
Assuming of course this is not just the private airfield of the base commander and they had to blow funds on years end or something. Wouldnt surprise me. /s

But what could it be?

This complex adjacent to the runway might offer some clues: i.imgur.com...
This is what it looked like in 2010 when the first hangar was built alongside the runway: i.imgur.com...
And this in 2013: i.imgur.com...

What are we seeing in all three pictures? Satellite Communication dishes. Some version of this: www.extremetech.com...

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. Its not unreasonable to conclude that they put the new satellite communication complex next to their new runway, because they want everything neccessary for their little project away from the prying eyes at the main base or something.

Now obviously extensive satcom gear points to drones. So whats the Navy doing with drones? UCLASS/CBARS obviously, but is it really this simple?
Might very well be, but why on earth built a separate secluded runway complex on fricking NAWS China Lake when Boeing is happily advertising their MQ-25 entry on twitter? I mean its the military and all, but seriously? Plus, the timeline doesnt fit at all. UCLASS (let alone CBARS) didnt happen until 2013ish and never went beyond the drawing board. And CBAR prototype werent ready 5 to 8 years ago either. No need to start building facilities in 2010 for any of them. And the X-47Bs were flown out of Edwards, obviously no need for secrecy.

Someone ™ raised the possibility of a connection to the Amarillo/Wichita triangle sightings a couple of years ago. I dont think thats likley. Wichita is supposed to be Air Force (www.abovetopsecret.com...). But you never know.

So is this just the usual waste and supidity or does the Navy have another UAV program going on, sensitive enough to warrant an new, independent, secluded annex to their version of Groom?

As said, might be nothing. Or something. Does anyone have any ideas or better yet, an obvious answer i overlooked?
Oh btw please ignore the chopped off runway on Google Earth in 2007. Its just a Google Earth thing.

edit on 9-1-2018 by mightmight because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 02:50 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

The relatively tiny size of the runway indicates that whatever they're flying off of it is likely no bigger than a Cessna or Piper, as it looks to be about the size of the (very small) airfield I fly out of, or ~2500' x 50', about the smallest you frequently see in GA flying.

Now, as to what they're flying out of there, the USN has a bunch of UAV projects in that size range, some exotic, some not so much. It could be for testing some relatively mundane mini-predator with a 30' wingspan and a rotax to be launched and recovered like the old Pioneer UAV, it could be related to TERN or VARIOUS, or it could be for something truly exotic, like the Cormorant or something similar. All of those have been in the pipes since at least 2010, and they're all about the size of a Piper twin at most.

What I will say though is that there's plenty of other, ahem, *interesting* stuff going on at China Lake, and if you want a good rabbithole to go down, the Bussard Polywell and the Wiffleball experiments are far more exciting than any submarine-launched UAV will ever be.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 02:58 PM
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35.6773262,-117.6771757

is that an f-14 there?



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:04 PM
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a reply to: grey580



Even better.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:08 PM
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a reply to: grey580
I think Sublaunched UAVs would be pretty exciting. The length of the runway is obviously an important point. But why built a secluded facility for some small UAV? Makes Little sense unless you really dont want it seen.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:13 PM
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Could it just be used for Predator training/ops...rather than using the main runways this would be a good training aid for a forward deployed unit..??a reply to: mightmight



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:14 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

Or that you just don't want some small UAV program's ops gumming up the main runway and the aircraft itself was so small and low performance that it was actually feasible to send the maintenance crew out to pave a 2500x50 strip in the desert to base it.

Don't underestimate just how cheap it is to build a runway that small. I've seen similar in people's backyards.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:15 PM
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When I was stationed at China Lake there was always rumors that underneath B mountain was an underground facility. Lot's of engineers working on some technology that's only now being spoken about on any military press.

There's also a lot of weird stuff that goes on on the light line, lot of stealth activity, activity on base people flying in and out in regular airplanes.

Look up VX-9 and I think it's 32 I can't remember the D level squadron been a while.
edit on 9-1-2018 by toysforadults because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:16 PM
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originally posted by: Barnalby
a reply to: mightmight

Or that you just don't want some small UAV program's ops gumming up the main runway and the aircraft itself was so small and low performance that it was actually feasible to send the maintenance crew out to pave a 2500x50 strip in the desert to base it.

Don't underestimate just how cheap it is to build a runway that small. I've seen similar in people's backyards.


Lot of spec ops and seabees train there and there is a range on base could be for simulation, they do test and eval



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:17 PM
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a reply to: toysforadults

I'm all but 100% convinced that they cracked small fusion with the later WB series reactors after that program went dark and at this point they're just smoothing out the kinks and working on reliability, portability, etc.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:18 PM
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originally posted by: Barnalby
a reply to: mightmight

The relatively tiny size of the runway indicates that whatever they're flying off of it is likely no bigger than a Cessna or Piper, as it looks to be about the size of the (very small) airfield I fly out of, or ~2500' x 50', about the smallest you frequently see in GA flying.

Now, as to what they're flying out of there, the USN has a bunch of UAV projects in that size range, some exotic, some not so much. It could be for testing some relatively mundane mini-predator with a 30' wingspan and a rotax to be launched and recovered like the old Pioneer UAV, it could be related to TERN or VARIOUS, or it could be for something truly exotic, like the Cormorant or something similar. All of those have been in the pipes since at least 2010, and they're all about the size of a Piper twin at most.

What I will say though is that there's plenty of other, ahem, *interesting* stuff going on at China Lake, and if you want a good rabbithole to go down, the Bussard Polywell and the Wiffleball experiments are far more exciting than any submarine-launched UAV will ever be.


When I was there ten years ago they were apparently testing a lot of EOD robots used to disarming IED's and other explosive devices. Beoing and Lockheed are there as well. Lot's of development going on.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:19 PM
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The runway isn't fairly long but enough to held a UAV or a light-weight small bird. My bet are UAV program when we are talking about that location.
But... we know that government likes to build one plane in a white world and a competitor flying in the dark. MQ-25 was announced lately. It is a new project under development. Why not build another more advanced UAV for other purposes in the black?



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:19 PM
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a reply to: toysforadults

That too, it could very well be a demonstrator of a small, quick, and cheap forward base for UAVs to train Seabees, etc on.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:19 PM
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a reply to: Barnalby

There are some odd things that happen way out there in the desert.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:21 PM
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originally posted by: Barnalby
a reply to: toysforadults

That too, it could very well be a demonstrator of a small, quick, and cheap forward base for UAVs to train Seabees, etc on.


SEALs, EOD and other spec ops train there a lot, full size swimming pool and great workout facility. When I was getting ready for BUDS I used meet guys all the time asking my why I was swimming like that.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:24 PM
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a reply to: toysforadults

Oh, I am sure of it.

I've thought of building my own Farnsworth fusor for S's & G's, and if I, a lowly liberal arts major with some basic fabrication experience, can consider building a basic inertial electrostatic fusion device, then I can only imagine what someone could accomplish with the US Navy's powerplant development funds at their side.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:26 PM
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a reply to: Barnalby But its not just the runway (of which they have three, more than most testing airbases out west) three hangars, an exclusive satcom shop, 1.5 miles of paved road to the other site of the base and a bunch of other infrastructure i cant identify. I dont think the Navy couldnt find some unused facilities somewhere get some mundane UAV program going. The X-47 flew out of Edwards after all. Instead they chose to build an exclusive minibase for scratch on their secretive RDT&E facility.



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:26 PM
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Yep...F1-11b I reckon...good call!! a reply to: Barnalby



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:28 PM
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a reply to: grey580

Look to the training grounds to the north.
35.9023703, -117.7238384



Back on topic.
What about helicopter landing strip?
edit on 9-1-2018 by Bigburgh because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 03:29 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

a lot of guys stationed there have no idea what's going on, I remember being told during a safety stand down by the XO that we have no idea what we're doing but we are doing a great job

lot's of highly secretive stuff going on and many many rumors with personnel on base

pretty sure there's an underground facility out there ]

oh, a lot of stuff there is built for the range, they blow it up
edit on 9-1-2018 by toysforadults because: (no reason given)




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