Naval Air Station Patuxent River

Mission and Vision St​atement

outstanding base operating support to our mission tenant commands.​
Deliver effective and efficient installation management enabling tenants to achieve integrated warfare systems and life cycle sustainment.
Champion all tenant's readiness for research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E), acquisition, engineering, and fleet support to the entire range of manned and unmanned naval aircraft, engines, avionics, aircraft support systems and ship/shore/air operations.
​​​​​​​​​Vision: "Naval Air Station Pax River delivers the finest base operating support and service while fostering an ​environment for achieving success."
(Source: NAS Pax River Website)

History and General Information​

Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Pax River) was commissioned as a Naval Air Station in April 1943 and is located at the mouth of the Patuxent River, overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The Navy established NAS Pax River in response to the need for a centralized air-systems testing facility. Construction was ultimately expedited due to the nation's involvement in World War II. Since that time, NAS Pax River has played a vital role in supporting the needs of the military, from testing planes for combat in World War II to catalyzing the development of new and refined capabilities and technologies that supported the nation throughout the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Once known as the east coast's Naval Air Transport Service base, NAS Pax River is now the home of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), and functions as the Navy's full spectrum research, development, test and evaluation, engineering, and fleet support center for air platforms.

In the mid-1990's, a round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions brought more than 20,000 civilian and military employees to the region, increasing the workforce tenfold as the air station was selected to host the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) headquarters. In addition to NAVAIR and NAWCAD, this BRAC consolidation and integration effort also relocated more than 50 tenant activities to the air station, which is now the largest employer in St. Mary's County. In addition to the Department of Defense, other entities that rely on the facilities at NAS Pax River to research, develop, test, and evaluate naval aircrafts and support systems include foreign governments, universities, and private industries.

NAS Pax River has two annexes - Webster Outlying Field and Navy Recreation Center Solomons. Webster Outlying Field is located 12 miles southwest of NAS Pax River and tenants include the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD 4.11), Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes, and Maryland National Guard Armory. Navy Recreation Center Solomons is located 10 miles northwest of NAS Pax River and is bound by the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. The center provides lodging, recreation, and aquatic activities for military members and their families.

In addition, Bloodsworth Island Range, located in the Chesapeake Bay and off the shores of Dorchester County, is part of a NAS Pax River annex and is an active Navy testing range. From 1942 to 1995, the Navy used it as a bombing range for live ordnance from ships and aircraft. While live and inert ordnance are no longer tested here, a Surface Danger Zone surrounds the property due to the presence of unexploded ordnance. Today, the island is used as an instrumented range that supports research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) of various offensive and defensive aircraft weapons systems.


Compatible Use Organizations, Programs, and Resources

For more information on how NAS Pax River works with surrounding communities to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships, you can explore compatible use organizations, programs, and resources.

Community Resources to Promote Compatibility

Military installations and their host communities have strong and mutually beneficial relationships. They rely on and support one another in terms of jobs, housing, schools, recreation, infrastructure, and social services. Communication, coordination, and partnerships that support compatible community development can create mutually beneficial results to ensure support for warfighters and their families, military operations, and continued community growth and economic development.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River Joint Land Use Study


A Compatible Use Study, formerly referred to as a Joint Land Use Study, represents a community-driven, cooperative, and strategic planning process to protect and preserve military readiness and defense capabilities, while supporting continued community growth and economic development. The study is based on technical information the military service provides to describe current military operations. The compatibility analysis results in a series of recommended actions included in an implementation strategy to guide compatible community development in support of continued military operations.

The Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland prepared the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Joint Land Use Study (NAS Pax River JLUS), with financial support from the Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (formerly known as Office of Economic Adjustment). The NAS Pax River JLUS, completed in January 2015, includes details of the study effort and recommended actions to be taken to improve community compatibility and reduce encroachments to its ongoing mission. It was a collaborative effort among NAS Pax River and the adjacent Maryland counties of Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, St. Mary's, Talbot, and Wicomico, the Maryland municipalities of Cambridge, Crisfield, and Leonardtown, as well as the Virginia counties of Northumberland and Westmoreland.

The NAS Pax River JLUS Background Report includes noise contour data and safety zones as they relate to flight paths and impacts of mission operations on local communities. These data served as a key point of reference, which helped form the compatibility assessments presented in the NAS Pax River JLUS.

An executive summary of the NAS Pax River JLUS details the compatibility challenges and the study's findings and recommendations. Challenges include adverse impacts on radar tracking and communications systems, and safety concerns arising from land and maritime uses within flight operation testing areas. Recommended strategies are distinguished between Maryland's Eastern Shore and areas west of the Chesapeake Bay and include the development of a Military Compatibility Area Overlay District, strategic land exchanges, and siting guidelines for energy infrastructure and communications towers.

The NAS Pax River JLUS includes descriptions of the Compatibility Factors evaluated and the recommended strategies to address topics such as anti-terrorism and force protection, biological resources, communications, energy development, land use, light and glare, noise, roadway capacity, safety, vertical obstructions, and water quality/quantity.

Since the completion of the NAS Pax River JLUS, follow-up actions based on the recommendations have included the signing of a St. Mary's County and NAS Pax River encroachment agreement. As part of the agreement, a Navy technical advisor will review all land use development proposals in the vicinity of NAS PAX River and the county and Navy shall collaborate on communication efforts to inform St. Mary's citizens about the nature of encroachment threats and local actions that can reduce those threats among other cooperative actions to address encroachment threats.

Another NAS Pax River JLUS follow-up action item included the FY2021 Defense Community Infrastructure Support project "Crosswalk at Gate 2/Great Mills Road." Pedestrian and bicycle access that currently does not exist will be part of the Great Mills Road intersection reconstruction project.

Local Comprehensive Planning


Counties and municipalities develop comprehensive plans to provide a long-term vision for their future growth and development. Comprehensive plans typically include maps showing proposed future land uses and anticipated transportation and community facilities, and emphasize sustainability, as well as protection of environmental features, and historical and cultural resources.

While comprehensive plans in Maryland do not require a military element, many plans for jurisdictions around NAS Pax River include references to the installation and consider potential influences on the community. The NAS Pax River JLUS Background Report contains a detailed analysis of installation integration in county and town comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances for an extensive area around NAS Pax River. In the area immediately surrounding the installation, NAS Pax River is referenced in the following comprehensive plans:

  • Lexington Park Development District Master Plan (2016)
    • The introduction to the Lexington Park District Master Plan references St. Mary's County's objective to strengthen the visual and physical connections between the installation and Lexington Park.
    • In the introduction, the ongoing cooperative efforts between the county and the Navy include a focus on the AICUZ and the cooperation agreement between the Commissioners of St. Mary's County and installation representatives.
    • A specific recommendation of the plan is to maintain cooperation with the Navy. (Recommendation 1.4.4). This includes continuing coordination to protect and increase public amenity open space within the Air Installations Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ), supporting DoD efforts to preserve land and habitat buffers around the installation through the DoD REPI Program, and working with the Navy to address compatibility with changes in operations at NAS Pax River.
    • The Development Strategies section includes an evaluation of each subarea of Lexington Park and how and where they border NAS Pax River. Recommendations are proposed for development based on existing character and desired outcomes.
    • Zoning recommendations are also provided, including the need to clarify AICUZ regulations to ensure compatibility of uses and implementation of noise abatement criteria for new construction.
    • The Transportation and Circulation chapter supports improving transportation infrastructure that provides access to NAS Pax River and includes several recommendations, such as working with NAS Pax River to allow base access to the county bus system and proposed road improvements in areas around the base.
    • The Economic Development chapter advocates promoting businesses in proximity to NAS Pax River and recognizes the facility as an economic engine.
  • St. Mary's County Master Plan (2010)
    • The Land Use and Growth Management element acknowledges a priority to focus on mitigating encroachment by partnering with the Navy. It encourages the two entities to work together to identify and mitigate all forms of encroachment that may impact base operations. This goal is supported by semi-annual meetings and incorporating AICUZ study recommendations in land use plans and zoning ordinances and supporting either purchasing property or easements to ensure mission continuation.
    • The Economic Development element includes the overall economic development strategy for the county that focuses on core industries while encouraging business diversity. The priority of this strategy is supporting the defense economy that supplements NAS Pax River. St. Mary's County is committed to supporting workforce development and expansion, realizing that educational partnerships and business attraction are both critical promotional elements.
    • As part of Economic Development Goal 9.1, collaboration is encouraged between St. Mary's County and the Navy to ensure full utilization of NAS Pax River and Webster Field facilities, including research, development, and testing.
  • Calvert County Master Plan (2019)

Other Planning and Coordination Efforts


NAS Pax River/St. Mary's County Cooperative Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding: The St. Mary's County Commissioners and the Commander, NAS Patuxent River signed a cooperative agreement in 2016 to work together to mitigate and prevent encroachment around NAS Patuxent and ensure the economic and aesthetic future of the local communities. Based on this agreement, the two parties signed an MOU to create a formal communication process that includes at least two meetings per year to share information on each party's initiatives and important issues.

Communications stimulated by the MOU resulted in the two parties establishing a multi-year Intergovernmental Support Agreement (IGSA) in 2018 and recently extended it for several more years. In 2020, the MOU and IGSA facilitated the implementation of eight projects that saved taxpayers almost $1 million in road repair and maintenance.


Economic Resources to Promote Compatibility

A jurisdiction's economic development office and support organizations offer a variety of resources that help the community seek out economic growth opportunities and strengthen existing businesses. These resources are particularly valuable for defense communities that are continually looking for ways to attract new business, retain a skilled workforce, and provide resources and opportunities for military families relocating to the area.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River Workforce and Economic Impact


NAS Pax River generates more than 52,317 direct, indirect, and induced jobs as a result of its operations in Lexington Park and the surrounding region.1 This includes the military, civilian, and contractor employees responsible for carrying out the installation's mission and the employment opportunities generated by local spending on goods and services by the workforce. For a breakdown of employment type by installation, refer to the installation's economic impact analysis sheet.

According to the FY 2021 Economic Impact of Maryland's Military Installations and the Associated Defense Ecosystem, prepared by the Maryland Department of Commerce,​ the annual economic output for NAS Pax River (sum of direct, indirect, and induced impacts) is $6.3B, with a total employee compensation of $4.2B.2

Southern Maryland Navy Alliance


The Southern Maryland Navy Alliance's mission is "to support, promote, and enhance the intellectual capital and infrastructure at Naval Air Station Patuxent River and Webster Outlying Field at St. Inigoes as an economic asset and resource to the Southern Maryland region." The Alliance Objectives support the mission at NAS Pax River through community and business partnerships.

Economic Development in St. Mary's County


Say Yes to St. Mary's County is the recently re-branded economic development office that works to strengthen business development throughout the county and offers a variety of programs and services to foster business retention, growth, and new investment for businesses of all sizes. The office partners with many organizations to foster economic stability and growth, including NAS Pax River, the St. Mary's Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Development Center. St. Mary's County also works every year to publish 10 Miles of Tech, a technology resource guide that provides profiles of local technology firms and support organizations to facilitate growth and collaboration in the county.

Office of Small Business Programs Naval Air Systems Command


The Naval Air Command Office of Small Business Programs (NAVOSMP) has an introductory video that provides details about the resources available for companies seeking to do business with mission partners from NAS Pax River. The NAVOSMP supports the Navy Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (SBIR/STTR). The SBIR/STTR works with mission-oriented technology businesses that can sustain both the military and private sectors of the nation. The SBIR/STTR is focused on research or research and development and technology that support the Navy Systems Command.

Regional Transportation Organization


The Calvert-St. Mary's Metropolitan Planning Organization (C-SMMPO) is the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for coordinating planning activities and investment decisions related to surface transportation assets (e.g., roads, bridges, transit assets, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities). Roadway congestion, construction, and transportation planning are regional concerns that impact local communities and access to NAS Pax River, potentially affecting employees, service members, and the base's mission. Communication between the military installation and the C-SMMPO is necessary to ensure an adequate regional transportation infrastructure that supports continued military operations. The C-SMMPO has completed several special studies, including a Naval Base Commuter Multi-Modal Mobility Planning Study that assessed the feasibility of and provided recommendations on ways to reduce the amount of automobile traffic associated with NAS Pax River.

The C-SMMPO's FY 2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) includes the planned schedule for which federal, state, and local funds are distributed for state and local transportation projects within the region. A representative of NAS Pax River participated in the Technical Advisory Committee, comprised of planners and engineers, to assist in reviewing and recommending revisions being proposed during the TIP process. Traffic in/around NAS Pax River due to the tremendous mission growth and the number of vehicles going in and out of the installation was one of the major issues discussed.


1 FY ​2021 Economic Impact of Maryland's Military Installatio​ns and the Associated Defense Ecosystem. Maryland Department of Commerce. FY 2021 Economic Impact of Maryland's Military Installations and the Associated Defense Ecosystem.
2 Ibid.


Public Affairs Office
22268 Cedar Point Road
Bldg. 409
Patuxent River, MD 20670-1154

Phone: (301)757-6748​
​Public Affairs Office Website 

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