Naval Air Facility El Centro

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Naval Air Facility El Centro
Naval Air Facility El Centro (crest).gif
Located near Seeley, California
US Naval Air Facility El Centro entrance sign in March 2016.JPG
TypeNaval air facility
Site information
Owner United States Navy
Controlled byNavy Region Southwest.jpg Navy Region Southwest
Site history
BuiltMay 1, 1946
In use1946–present
Garrison information
CAPT Brent Alfonzo, USN
OccupantsBlue Angels Insignia.svg Blue Angels
(winter training facility)
Vraciu Field
NJK - FAA airport diagram.gif
FAA airport diagram
Elevation AMSL-42 ft / -13 m
Coordinates32°49′45″N 115°40′18″W / 32.82917°N 115.67167°W / 32.82917; -115.67167Coordinates: 32°49′45″N 115°40′18″W / 32.82917°N 115.67167°W / 32.82917; -115.67167
KNJK is located in California
Location of Naval Air Facility El Centro
Direction Length Surface
ft m
8/26 9,503 2,897 PEM
12/30 6,824 2,080 PEM

Naval Air Facility El Centro or NAF El Centro (IATA: NJK, ICAO: KNJK, FAA LID: NJK) is a United States Navy Naval Air Facility located approximately six miles (10 km) northwest of El Centro, in Imperial County, California. NAF El Centro is under the jurisdiction of Navy Region Southwest and serves both as temporary homeport to military units conducting air-to-air and bombing training, and as the winter training home of the Blue Angels.

Founded in 1946 as Naval Air Station El Centro, the facility had previously been the site of a World War II era Marine Corps Air Station. In 1979, the facility was given its current designation as a Naval Air Facility.


The facility was commissioned on May 1, 1946, as a Naval Air Station. Prior to that, the base was a Marine Corps Air Station. Through the years, Navy El Centro has had several names: Naval Air Facility, Naval Auxiliary Landing Field, Naval Air Station, and the National Parachute Test Range.

For the first 35 years, the mission of NAF El Centro was devoted to aeronautical escape system testing, evaluation, and design. In November 1947, the Parachute Experimental Division from Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey moved to El Centro. In 1951, the Joint Parachute Facility was established and consisted of the Naval Parachute Unit and the U.S. Air Force's 6511th Test Group (Parachute). The Air Force remained part of El Centro's test organization for the next 27 years.

Current operations[edit]

The facility has two operating runways. The 9,503-foot (2,897 m) east–west runway handles 96 percent of the traffic.[1] It is equipped with a fresnel lens optical landing system (FLOLS) at each approach end, as well as lit carrier flight 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 and naval flight officers to practice ordnance 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 the Tactical Air Crew Training System (TACTS) to provide a computerized record of the tactics employed by individual aircrews to employ and to evaluate the effectiveness of each maneuver.

The facility is also home to the British Joint Helicopter Force (US) which is part of Joint Helicopter Command.

Air show[edit]

NAF El Centro is the winter home of the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels. NAF El Centro historically kicks off the Blue Angels' season with their first air show, traditionally held in March.

Popular culture[edit]

Much of the movie Jarhead was filmed around El Centro, and many of the extras from the movie were from NAF El Centro.

In the beginning of the 1990 movie Revenge, Kevin Costner is an F-14 pilot stationed at El Centro.


  1. ^ "NAF El Centro – GMAP.NL". Retrieved 2019-12-22.

External links[edit]