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NAF El Centro

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Title: NAF El Centro  
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Subject: Blue Angels, Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Imperial County, California, Imperial Valley, United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, Naval air station, VF-114, VFA-125
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NAF El Centro

Naval Air Facility El Centro
Airport type Naval Air Facility
Operator United States Navy
Location Imperial County, near El Centro, California
Built May 1, 1946
In use Active
Commander Captain James A. Hubbard
Coordinates 32°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

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: NJKICAO: KNJKFAA LID: NJK) is a military airport located six miles (10 km) northwest of El Centro, in Imperial County, California, USA.


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

The facility has two operating runways. The 9,500-foot (2,900 m) east/west runway handles 96 percent of the traffic. It is equipped with a Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (FLOLS) at each approach end as well as lighted 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.

Air Show

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

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


  • Naval Air Facility El Centro (official site)
  • Naval Air Facility El Centro Retrieved 2006-10-26
  • History of Naval Air Facility El Centro (California State Military Museum) Retrieved 2011-10-6
  • PDF)

External links

  • Resources for this U.S. military airport:
    • FAA airport information for NJK
    • AirNav airport information for KNJK
    • ASN accident history for NJK
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KNJK
    • PDF), effective June 26, 2014
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