VX-4 Squadron History

VX-4 Evaluators
Base:NAS Point Mugu, CA
Variant:F-14A, B & D, F/A-18A, C, & D

Listing of F-14's Assigned to VX-4

The original VX-4 came to life in 1950 at a base in New England, where it's primary focus was the development of AEW systems. After moving to Pax River the squadron disestablished in 1951.
Despite this short lived first incarnation the second VX-4 was destined to last longer. After being commissioned at NAS Point Mugu on the 11th of September 1952 it spent it's whole life dedicated to the operational test and evaluation of fighter aircraft and systems destined for fleet units, until in April 1994 VX-4 was amalgamated with VX-5 from NAWC China Lake to form VX-9 Vampires.
In it's 42 year history VX-4 had one aim:- to subject new aircraft, systems and weapons to the type of punishing service they could expect with fleet units. VX-4 found the limits, ensured new systems met their promises and reported back to NAVAIR as to which were worth expenditure on. As a result VX-4 was primarily an operational unit, assigned a test role. Aircrew had to keep up with Fleet requirements for carrier qualification, ACM and more. In addition to deciding which kit was worth buying the unit wrote manuals and developed tactics for systems prior to fleet introduction.
Being involved in evaluating all new systems destined for the fleet meant that during it's life the squadron operated almost every type of fighter aircraft the Navy has flown since 1952. The first F-14A arrived September(?) 1972, fresh from Naval Air Test Centre evaluation. VX-4 carried out OPEVAL for the F-14A (in much the same way that VX-9 is currently undertaking OPEVAL for the F/A-18E/F), ensuring it was ready for the rigours of shipboard life and developing, then writing the tactics and manuals that would cover not only how it fought, but how it was maintained.
VX-4 then became involved in the AIMVAL/ACEVAL tests of the late 1970's, which saw F-14As from VF-1 and VF-2 deploy to Nellis AFB for several months of tests, flying against F-5s and F-15s. The results helped forge US fighter fundamentals for the 1980s and 90s and also provided vital data for the formulation of requirements that owuld lead to development of the AIM-120 AMRAAM.
The Evaluators helped prove the F-14/AWG-9/AIM-54 mix, ensuring it could meet it's promised multi-target track and engagement requirements. A F-14A from VX-4 was the aircraft that engaged six drones at various speeds and altitudes on the 8th of June 1973. Pilot 'Smoke' Wilson and RIO Jack Hawver fired six AIM-54's in 38 seconds. Despite one missile having an in flight malfunction and a drone going off course the test was a success - four drones were destroyed and another scored as a lethal miss. The F-14A had passed it's toughest test, one that reduced the threat of the Tomcat being cancelled, a very real threat at that time.

Image Courtesy of Torsten Anft

Image Courtesy of Torsten Anft

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