Story and Photos by Peter Boschert
NAS Lemoore is the largest US Navy base with about 12000 hectares. It was opened in 1961 and is now a Master Base of the US Navy. In 1998, NAS Lemoore was selected as the home of the Super Hornets on the West Coast. Lemoore has two parallel runways with 4100 meters, the parking and maintenance hangars are in between.
NAS Lemoore is home to four Carrier Air Wings, 16 operational squadron (F/A-18E/F) 2 Joint Strike Fighter Squadron (F-35C), 2 Training Squadron (F/A-18E/F and F-35C) and 1 rescue squadron(MH-60S). F/A-18E/F and F-35Cs are stationed at Lemoore, with the number of F-35Cs increasing all the time. The F-35C is a carrier-supported variant that differs externally from larger wings, folding wing ends, reinforced landing gear and catch hooks. The US Navy currently intends to purchase 280 F-35Cs. There will be no new squadrons with the F-35C but will switch squadrons from the Super Hornet to the Lightning II.
In addition to the VFA-125 “Rough Raiders” training squadron, seven operational squadrons of the Pacific Fleet are to be stationed here, the first of which, the VFA-147 “Argonauts”, was converted to the F-35C in 2018. The F-35C reached initial operational capability in February 2019. In addition, the US Marines get 67 more F-35Cs which are intended for use on aircraft carriers together with the machines of the Navy. As the first squadron, the VMFA-314 was set up and was already with the CVW-9 on the USS Abraham Lincoln from January to August 2022 on the way.
Flight operations occur some 300 days a year at Lemoore. The number of take-offs and landings varies daily, 210,000 flight operations are flown annually. In Lemoore, Super Hornets fly as single or double seaters. These are currently all standard on Block II. This 15-year program has now been closed and they are working on the next generation, Block III.
The Block III aircraft feature a faster mission computer and a more robust communications system — upgrades that could ultimately help the aircraft control and direct unmanned Wingman aircraft. The aircraft also has conformal fuel tanks that carry 1,590 kg of additional fuel (CFT tanks) and a lifespan of 10,000 flight hours. All Block II are to be converted to III (which have more than 6000 flight hours) and also another 72 new Super Hornets will be ordered. Thus, the US Navy then bought 680 Super Hornets.
Carrier Air Wings
Carrier Air Wing 2:
Carrier Air Wing 9:
Carrier Air Wing 11:
Carrier Air Wing 17: Not aboard during my visit.
Other utility aircraft present:
USS Nimitz (CVN 68)
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)
A big thank you to Jessica Nilsson (Public Affairs Officer) who supported me during my visit and spent a whole day helping me.