Navy and NASA Officially Open Wallops Flight Facility for E-2/C-2 FCLP Operations

The Navy commenced the first E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) operations at Wallops Flight Facility Nov. 4, following a ceremony to commemorate an agreement with NASA to support FCLP training for E-2 and C-2 squadrons operating from Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field.

NASA officials, Accomack County officials and Navy personnel attended the ceremony in recognition of an agreement which culminates a more than 10 year search to acquire additional local FLCP airfield capacity.

"It would be very difficult for anyone to overstate just how important this agreement is to NASA, the Navy, and to the future of Naval aviation in the Hampton Roads region," said Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, deputy director of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, in a speech during the ceremony's opening.

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The agreement with NASA provides the Navy with the ability to relieve near-term FCLP capacity issues at Navy Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress and affords pilots the opportunity to practice carrier landings in a controlled training environment that closely replicates conditions encountered at sea. Additionally, the agreement will help reduce training costs, decrease the time Sailors have to spend away from home while preparing for deployment, and provide a boost to the local economy on the Eastern Shore.

Previously, E-2 and C-2 squadrons had to conduct out-of-area detachments to NAS Jacksonville, Fla., or when operating at NALF Fentress, fly a modified landing pattern to comply with local noise abatement procedures.

"These detachments resulted in an increase to training costs, wear and tear on the airframes, and more time our Sailors had to spend away from their families," said Tyson.

"This is huge because of the realistic carrier landing practice that it provides to our aviators," said Capt. Todd Watkins, commodore of the Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing. "Here we are able to fly a pattern exactly the way we do it at sea."

The Navy completed approximately $1.9 million in necessary minor construction, including installation of runway lighting and markings to simulate the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, as well as the pouring of concrete pads for an Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System and a work station for Landing Signal officers. With construction complete, the facility is now capable of hosting day and night E-2 and C-2 FCLP operations.

Norfolk-based E-2 and C-2 squadrons will conduct up to 20,000 FCLP passes annually at Wallops Flight Facility.

By Lt. Lauren Cole, U.S. Fleet Forces Public Affairs

Source: US Navy
Date: Nov 7, 2013