California Dreaming

December 10, 2010

Dear Members and Friends,

Twenty miles north of Malibu, California along the Pacific Coast Highway is the United States Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) located at Point Mugu. The sea range at Point Mugu consists of 36,000 square miles that can be expanded to 125,000 square miles. The range is used for testing and evaluation of U.S. Navy aircraft, surface and submarine weapon systems including the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and electronic warfare. Foreign weapon systems like the Israeli Arrow missile defense system are also tested there.


Point Mugu Naval Range is supported by fixed-telemetry and radar sites on nearby Laguna Peak as well as San Nicolas Island, which the Navy owns, and Santa Cruz Island. The sea test range is connected via an air space corridor to the U.S.  Navy China Lake land test range in the eastern interior of central California. This corridor provides a variety of geographic features allowing for the testing of precision guided weapon systems from U.S. Navy ships, submarines and aircraft.


Point Mugu Naval Range plays a prominent role in missile defense as it provides the range, targets and launches for the Airborne Laser (ABL) on the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) from San Nicolas Island. Point Mugu also provides the crew for the USS Tripoli (LPH-10) in nearby Port Hueneme. The USS Tripoli is a converted helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship that now provides a stable and mobile platform to launch foreign military and U.S target ballistic missiles. This towed barge has been used by Aegis, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and ALTB for testing and also represents a realistic sea-based threat similar to a scud on a container ship; a threat that Iran has tested and could be a serious future threat to our nation.

Point Mugu runs more than 200 live fire tests each year using reusable targets. It supplements this with allied foreign weapon testing to reduce the considerable cost of testing and infrastructure. Further, to save costs and for realistic testing, this test range uses foreign military assets for testing against U.S. systems.

Point Mugu has installed the newest testing electronic display and control room that allows the best viewing and coordination for live testing. This is an important aspect for coordinating and gathering as much information as possible to oversee the tests. It also plays a role in coordination of air space as it is heavily congested by air traffic in and out of Los Angeles. The Navy continues to be successful in working with the FAA in Los Angeles to allow for the significant amount of testing and use of airspace that is occurring.


Since 1946 this tremendous asset on the California coast, near some of our nation’s prestigious beaches, has remained vital to the sustainment and growth of our naval systems as well as missile defense.


It was a privilege and honor to visit Point Mugu.

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