By Helen Tomlin News Review Staff Writer– Members of the China Lake Alliance hosted a meet-and-greet last Tuesday night at the Maturango Room in the Springhill Suites. Their featured speaker was Dan Carreño, who is the Executive Director of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD).
David Janiec, Executive Director of the alliance, introduced Carreño, who has more than 25 years of naval aviation experience across multiple phases of weapons systems life-cycle support. He worked extensively in energetics and provided propulsion analysis for multiple weapons systems, including the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). Carreño earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Tennessee. He has been a member of the Acquisition Professional Community since 2001. He received the Michelson Laboratory Award in 2009, the Dr. L.T.E. Thompson Award in 2015, and the NAVAIR Commander’s Award in 2015.
Carreño opened his remarks by stating that his goal for the evening was to “continue talks with the community…because it is an important partnership.” But first, he wanted to give the current status of NAWCWD’s mission and the up-to-date reconstruction activities underway at the China Lake Propulsion Lab.
Carreño began his presentation with the vision and mission of NAWCWD. He stated that their vision is to “give warfighters the very best to win today, tomorrow, and into the future.” In order to do that, their mission is to “deliver integrated and interoperable warfighting capabilities.” This can be accomplished through “cutting-edge research, development, acquisition, test, evaluation, and sustainment” from the skilled professionals who work at China Lake. In the end, the goal is to “provide the warfighter the decisive advantage.” However, all this would not be possible without their four values of service, trust, accountability, and respect.
Carreño gave updates on several buildings that had incurred damage during the 2019 earthquakes. He reported that as recently as the day before, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new Academic Training Center, which is the first of 14 projects from the Earthquake recovery effort that will be given over to NAWCWD. Referring to the importance of the new training center, Carreño remarked, “We need up-to-date tools to develop the workforce. We cannot do this with Quonset huts and chalkboards.” He said, “that’s what this state-of-the-art training center is all about.”
In the near future, another ribbon-cutting ceremony will soon be held for the Dr. Marguerite “Peggy” Rogers Lab.
Also, the Ordnance Test Supt and Tech Services offices and laboratories should be completed in the next few months, which is located in the China Lake Propulsion Lab area. This area is within a mile of the epicenter of the earthquakes, which caused a great amount of damage. So far, more than $750 million has been spent for this project. Carreño said, “This new facility is the best lab in the world.” He also complimented Captain Ben V. Wainwright, who is the OICC China Lake Commanding officer in charge of the recent construction. “He’s doing a good job. He’s on top of everything.”
Carreño answered some questions from the audience. One of them was about the buildings on the west side. He said these are replacements for hangars two and three, as well as a new air traffic control tower. Both hangars were “red-tagged” after the earthquake. (Hangar one, which is the oldest and the only one with an earthquake retrofit, did not sustain any damage). Hangar two is being rebuilt and will be used for some unmanned systems work, while hangar three, along with the new apron and taxiway, will be used by the VX-31 squadron and will support some AV-8 and F-18 projects. The hangars, tower, and lab spaces in the south airfield complex are anticipated to be completed by mid-2024.
One of the concerns that Carreño shared was the desire to retain the workers at the base. It is important to the whole community that the city of Ridgecrest has a high quality of life, with good educational opportunities and recreation for the families. Currently, they are recruiting over 300 new intern positions.
The China Lake Alliance will have its next meeting sometime in November or early December. The luncheon will feature another high-level speaker whose message will support the alliance’s goal of helping China Lake and Ridgecrest work synergistically in order to mutually benefit one another.