NAWS China Lake


NAWS China Lake is part of the Navy Region Southwest, Commander, Navy Installation Command and is located in the Western Mojave Desert region of California, approximately 150 miles north of Los Angeles. Occupying three counties – Kern, San Bernardino and Inyo – the installation’s closest neighbors are the cities of Ridgecrest, Inyokern, Trona and Darwin. The main gate of the installation is located at the intersection of Inyokern Road (Highway 178) and China Lake Blvd. in the city of Ridgecrest.

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In the midst of World War II, adequate facilities were needed by the California Institute of Technology for test and evaluation of rockets. At the same time, the Navy needed a new proving ground for aviation ordnance. Cal Tech’s Dr. Charles C. Lauritsen and then Cmdr. Sherman E. Burroughs met and formed a pact to find a site that would meet both their needs.

The Navy established China Lake as the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) in November 1943. Its mission was defined in a letter by the Secretary of the Navy, “…. a station having for its primary function the research, development and testing of weapons, and having additional function of furnishing primary training in the use of such weapons.” Testing began within a month of the Station’s formal establishment. The vast and sparsely populated desert with near perfect flying weather and practically unlimited visibility, proved an ideal location not only for test and evaluation activities, but also for a complete research and development establishment.


Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake’s mission is to support the Navy’s research, testing and evaluation missions to provide cutting-edge weapons systems to the warfighter.

Population Served

The workforce at China Lake is a mixture of military, civilians and contractors that are employed across multiple tenant commands. There are currently 620 active duty military, 4,166 civilian employees and 1,734 contractors employees that work onboard the installation.


The Navy Sponsor Program was established to facilitate the relocation of Naval personnel and their families when transferring on Permanent Change of Station orders. Prospective staff members shall receive a welcome aboard package prior to departing their current command which provides accurate and complete information.

Relocation Assistance

The Fleet and Family Support Center’s Relocation Assistance Program can make your move a lot easier. The Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) is designed to make the moving process run as effortlessly as possible for you and your family.

Critical Installation Information

As with ALL Navy facilities, random anti-terrorism measures are routinely implemented by the Force Protection department at NAWS China Lake, particularly at each entry point to the installation and as personnel enter or leave buildings on base. These measures can include random vehicle inspections, requests for two picture IDs and inspections of personal equipment, including purses, laptop bags and briefcases. Please comply with all requests made by Force Protection and do so in a respectful and professional manner. They do their job to ensure your protection and the protection of all personnel at, and inhabitants of, China Lake.

Visiting the Station requires a vetting process and the approval of a badge for you to enter the installation. The type of badge received will depend on the purpose and duration of the visit. Please visit the Base Access page to learn about the different types of badges available to guests and the process for obtaining one.

The Pass and ID Office, located just outside the installation’s Main Gate, processes all badge requests and provides permanent and temporary vehicle decals. They are open 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on non-flex (working) Fridays, and closed flex (non-working) Fridays, weekends and holidays.

Frequently Called Numbers on Base

All Faith Chapel (760) 939-3506

Federal Fire (760) 939-2146

Fleet and Family Support Center (760) 939-4545

Force Protection (760) 939-2709

Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline (800) 522-3451

Housing Office (760) 446-1320

Inspector General (760) 939-0711

Legal Services (760) 939-5630

Military Administration (NAWS) (760) 939-1553/2098

Morale, Welfare and Recreation (760) 939-3440

Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) (760) 939-6646

NAVFACSW, Public Works Dept. (760) 939-3412

Navy Gateway Inns & Suites (760) 939-3146

Public Affairs Office (760) 939-1683

Rocketeer II Newspaper (760) 446-4284

Safety and Occupational Health (760) 939-2315

Youth Services (760) 939-3171