Before a new aircraft heads to the fleet it first must go through a rigorous testing environment in order to prove its capabilities and develop baseline tactics for use at sea. The Prowler community has been blessed to have four exceptional test squadrons associated with it over the years, all of which have richly contributed to the success of the Prowler community through its history.
VX-5 Vampires | China Lake
Established on 18 June 1951 at NAS Moffett Field California, Air Development Squadron FIVE (AIRDEVRON-5 or VX-5) moved to beautiful NAF China Lake in 1956 to develop tactics and techniques for carrier-based aircraft. Over the years VX-5 was absolutely critical in the development and introduction of almost all new strike weapons used by carrier aviation.
Between 1975 and 1985 VX-5 operated a permanent EA-6B detachment at Whidbey Island as well in order to keep its activities as close to the Prowler community as possible. During its days VX-5 typically had no more than one EA-6B normally assigned, with Whidbey Island providing other airframes as needed.
In June 1993 VX-5 was merged with the fighter development squadron, Pt Mugu-based VX-4, with the new organization taking the designation VX-9.
VX-9 Vampires | China Lake
VX-9 was established in June 1993 from the merger of VX-5 and VX-4, which was the air-to-air test unit based at Pt Mugu CA. The “new” squadron remained at China Lake where it continues to conduct Operational Test and Evaluation of new aircraft and weapons systems.
VX-23 Salty Dogs | Patuxent River
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWENTY THREE (VX-23) was born out of the long-standing Strike directorate located at NAS Patuxent River, MD. The unit was formed as the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron on 22 July 1995 and redesignated VX-23 on 1 May 2002.
The “Salty Dogs” conduct Developmental Test (DT) with a multitude of aircraft, including the EA-6B, F/A-18 and EA-18.
VX-31 Dust Devils | China Lake
VX-31 exists to “plan, execute, analyze, evaluate and report full spectrum developmental and integrated test of aircraft and weapon systems.” Formed on 24 April 2002, the “Dust Devils” are based at NAS China Lake, CA.