VPNAVY VP-5 Mercury Capsule Recovery
VPNAVY Address

HistoryVX-20 HistoryHistory

Circa 2012

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Prepping for Poseidon - VP-30 To Welcome First Production P-8A in March - By Clark Pierce Editor - Posted: January 18, 2012 - 6:23pm | Updated: January 18, 2012 - 6:25pm. Squadron's Mentioned: VP-5, VP-16, VP-30, VX-1 and VX-20..." WebSite: JaxAirNews http://jaxairnews.jacksonville.com/ [19JAN2012]

Since the Naval Air Systems Command PMA 290 program office awarded Boeing the P-8A contract in 2004, thousands of hours of design, development and testing have been devoted to the P-3 Orion/P-8 Poseidon transition. Eight years later, with testing still underway, the VP-30 "Pro's Nest" is qualifying the instructors who will train the flight, mission and weapon crews when the first production P-8A arrives at a date to be determined in March.

"Every day is critical and puts us one step closer to delivering Poseidon to the fleet," said VP-30 Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Stevens.

"So far, thanks to the professionals on our fleet integration team, we're on track for initial operational capability in 2013."

Also, the first of 10 operational flight trainer and nine weapons tactics trainer simulators housed in the P-8A Integrated Training Center were recently accepted by VP-30, the Navy's largest fleet replacement squadron (FRS) located at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

"We're in our 'train-the-trainer' period where our initial cadre of 12 pilots, naval flight officers, acoustic and non-acoustic operators are sharpening their operational skills in the new technically advanced flight and mission simulators," said Stevens.

He added, "We've sent about 80 maintainers to train with VX-20 at NAS Patuxent River. They'll have their maintenance 'safe for flight' certification by March when our first P-8 arrives. In fact, the whole team should be certified as 'P-8 proficient' when the VP-16 'War Eagles' show up in July at VP-30 for transition training."

VP-16 is slated to have eight combat aircrews NATOPS-qualified within six months. Concurrently, VP-30 will train additional P-8 instructors, four at a time, so the squadron will be ready to teach its first FRS syllabus students in August.

With only two P-8A aircraft available by July, Stevens said, "Logging the required flight hours for instructors will be challenging. As a result, our first pair of Poseidons will fly about 200 hours per month. By January 2013, we should have six P-8s available – two each for VP-30, VP-16 and VP-5."

The Pro's Nest is currently assigned 17 P-3C Orions – but the numbers of P-3 students and aircraft will start to go down in 2013.

In the meantime, the VP-30 hangar will be modified to accommodate the P-8's higher tail section.

"Until the last P-3 is sent to the boneyard, we'll take the 'one team/one fight' approach for both platforms," said Stevens.

"That means our VP-30 Maintenance Department will service both the P-3 and P-8 in our hangar. Obviously, our new Boeing 737-based Poseidons will require less parts and labor than our 40-year-old Orions."

When the P-3 Orion/P-8 Poseidon transition is complete, VP-30 will be assigned 12 Poseidons. Operational squadrons will be assigned six Poseidons.

Also working with the P-8A fleet integration team is the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Weapons School located east of VP-30 on Yorktown Avenue.

"In addition to certifying VP squadrons in ordnance handling and loading for deployment, we teach post-FRS, level 200 through level 500 Weapons Tactics Instructor (WTI) courses," said Officer-in-Charge Cmdr. Mike Granger.

"Our P-8 department has developed advanced readiness training that includes classroom courseware, simulator scenarios and flight events. Our WTIs also worked with VX-1 at NAS Patuxent River to develop the initial ASW ordnance load for P-8, including the new MK 54 lightweight torpedo."

The Navy plans to purchase 108 production P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.

The Poseidon's Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with VP-16 is planned for 2013.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jaxairnews.jacksonville.com/military/jax-air-news/2012-01-18/story/prepping-poseidon#ixzz1jt0M3shR

History - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail
History - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail

Circa 2011

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraP-8 History "...The P-8A Poseidon successfully launched the first MK 54 torpedo during a test event in the Atlantic Test Range October 13th, 2011 - Official Navy Photograph - DATE: 111013 - LOCATION: VX-20 NAS Patuxent River, Maryland - BUNO: 168954 - FLT NO: 77 - MSN NO: 151 - PURPOSE OF TEST: BATV 54 (Torpedo) Safe Separation - TEST CONFIG: Station 7 - PILOT(S): LT Larry Malone, USN & Todd White, Boeing - CHASE AIRCRAFT MODEL: T-2C - BUNO: 158581 - PILOT(S): LT Matt Swartzwelder, USN - US Navy Photography by Liz Wolter..." [28OCT2011]

Circa 2010

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVX-20 History "...A P-3 crew from VX-20 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, were conducitng a sonobuoy test south of NAS Key West, Florida. Shortly after arriving on-station, the aircraft commander rolled the aircraft into a left hand turn when the yoke broke free, resulting in a loss of aileron control. With the yoke freely spinning, he returned the aircraft to level flight using the rudder and elevator. Controls were passed to the copilot, whose yoke was operating. The crew surmised they had a broken interconnect chain between the yokes - a malfunction not addressed by NATOPS. They climbed to a safe altitude, did a controllabily check, dumped fuel to reduce their weight, and landed at NAS Key West, Florida. From left to right: AWF1 Frank Renjifo, AT2 Matt Rasmussen, AWF1 Bill Rhiley, Mr. Scott Van Fleet, Mr. Ron Hidde, LT Matt Lecher and Mr. Lawrence Wells. Approach Magazine - May - June 2010 Page 12..." WebSite: Naval Safety Center http://safetycenter.navy.mil/ [05JUN2010]

Circa 2007

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Navy accepts first E-2D - Thursday, May 3, 2007..." WebSite: TESTER http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/050307/tester_27943.shtml [27OCT2007]

The U.S. Navy accepted the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye during a roll-out ceremony at Northrop Grumman's manufacturing facility in St. Augustine, Fla., Monday.

The system development and demonstration aircraft, called SDD-1, is the first of 75 Advanced Hawkeyes scheduled for delivery to the Navy. The first Advanced Hawkeye will join a fleet squadron in 2011.

‘‘The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a game-changer for the American war fighter. The aircraft is a leap forward in airborne early warning and command and control for our armed forces," said Rear Adm. Pete Williams, NAVAIR's program executive officer for Tactical Aircraft. ‘‘I am very proud that the Navy E-2 program, Northrop Grumman and other members of Team Hawkeye have delivered on a promise to create an aircraft that is the centerpiece for the future carrier flight deck."

With radar that extends the carrier battle group's line-of-sight, the Advanced Hawkeye has a 360-degree array with added electronic scan system and lock-down feature, which allows concentration on targets of potential threat, according to Capt. Randy Mahr, NAVAIR's E-2 program manager.

‘‘Augmenting a 40-year E-2 history, this new edition is equipped with the future resources critical to the Navy's network-centric strategy. When the Navy's men and women launch into harm's way, they will be playing for keeps and will have a mission-capable, mission-ready command and control aircraft – exactly what we promised to deliver," Mahr said.

The aircraft's glass cockpit system displays equip the pilot and co-pilot with the ability to switch screens from flight to crew mission displays. This allows four - rather than the traditional three - naval flight officers, to perform the aircraft's command-and-control missions and expand information conveyed to the battlegroup commander.

The Navy and Northrop Grumman will begin integrated ground testing in St. Augustine. Team Hawkeye has married existing telemetry systems and a mobile test facility to allow transfer of the test unit. The test facility can relocate to test events at St. Augustine, Patuxent River Naval Air Station, any off-site operation or on an aircraft carrier. Navy Test and Evaluation Squadrons Twenty (VX-20) and One (VX-1) will test at Pax River.

‘‘We will be ready in 2011 to be the backbone of the network-centric Navy," Mahr said. ‘‘For years, lighthouses guided Sailors - their vision for the way ahead - just like the Advanced Hawkeye will be the vision and the way ahead for those in the carrier battle group. It will sweep the mission frontlines to provide critical intelligence ahead of our strike aircraft."

The Advanced Hawkeye will take first flight this summer, joining Joint Strike Fighter and EA-18G, both of which completed first flights within the last year. Along with SH-60 and the AESA-equipped Block II Super Hornet, these aircraft comprise the carrier flight deck of the future.

‘‘With our number one goal in mind - delivering the right capabilities on time and on cost – I've given our tactical aircraft programs a mandate to use best-business practices to develop the force needed to ensure Navy and Marine Corps air dominance. The E-2D example represents one more success in our effort to provide the war fighter with the most advanced capabilities," said Williams.

Copyright © 2007 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Volunteers fix up 22 homes - Thursday, May 10, 2007..." WebSite: TESTER http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/051007/tester_27963.shtml [27OCT2007]

More than 1800 volunteers from the Naval Air Station, local community and businesses converged on 22 houses in St. Mary's County April 28 for annual rebuilding day -- Christmas in April.

Volunteers included active duty military members, spouses, dependents and federal and contractor employees representing all activities on the naval air station as well as defense contractors, local government, businesses and private citizens groups.

All the major activities at NAS were represented that day -- NAVAIR and NAWCAD headquarters, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, VX-1, VX-20, VX-23, VXS-1, VC-6, VQ-4 Det Maint, Air Ops GEM, NAS Weapons, PSD, Webster Field, the Naval Medical Clinic and Public Works Seabees.

According to Christmas in April Executive Director Mary Ann Chasen, this is the first time in its 17-year history that more volunteers showed up on workday than were scheduled. ‘‘It has been a good year," she said.

Chasen added that more than 500 homes have been repaired in St. Mary's County over that 17 years.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Pax River volunteers help to make Olympic Games special - Thursday, May 17, 2007..." WebSite: TESTER http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/051707/tester_27935.shtml [27OCT2007]

Over 200 volunteers from Pax River — both military and civilian — helped make the Special Olympics Maryland St. Mary's County Spring Games a success. Held May 1 at Leonardtown High School, the event attracted more than 250 athletes. The 16 events included high jump, races, softball throws, shot put, bocce and more. Five award areas and the activity tent completed the athletes' opportunities.

Over 140 volunteers coordinated by AC1 Nicole Harris operated the sporting venues, while another group of over 60, coordinated by PR1 Joshua Martin, served as athlete escorts. The remaining escorts were students from the three St. Mary's County public high schools.

Pax River volunteers came from across the base, including: NAVAIR and NAWCAD headquarters, HX-21, VX-1, VXS-1, VX-20, VX-23, Air Ops, NAS Weapons, PSD, FRC, Naval Medical Clinic, Public Works Seabees, and Lincoln Military Housing.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...P-8A Poseidon completes critical design review - Thursday, July 12, 2007..." WebSite: TESTER http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/071207/tester_27929.shtml [27OCT2007]

The Navy's next generation maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, completed its critical design review June 15 with zero requests for action for industry partner Boeing, who hosted the meetings in Seattle.

Production of the first P-8A test aircraft is expected to begin later this year.

‘‘This event marks the achievement of an extremely significant milestone, completed in tremendous fashion," said Rear Adm. Brian Prindle, commander, Fleet Patrol and Reconnaissance Group.

Congratulating the ‘‘hundreds of outstanding professionals who contributed to a great critical design review, Prindle said he is ‘‘looking forward to continuing great teamwork between NAVAIR, N88 – the Navy's air warfare requirements office, and the fleet, to move P-8 successfully in to the next phase."

Tom Laux, program executive officer for Air Anti-submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission Platforms, stressed the importance of this milestone for the fleet.

‘‘The critical design review is just that – critical," said Laux. ‘‘It's objective evidence the Boeing?Government team continues to make progress towards delivering this essential capability to the war fighter in a timely and cost effective manner."

Poseidon fuselages will be built in Wichita, Kan. and then transferred to Boeing's commercial division in Seattle, for the wing and tail assemblies. The nearly complete aircraft will then move to the Integrated Defense System line for completion and delivery to the Navy.

‘‘I am extremely proud of the NAVAIR Boeing team," said Capt. Joe Rixey, NAVAIR's Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft program manager. ‘‘This is an indication of the solid teaming between the program office, competencies, Navy leadership and industry."

‘‘The team is ready to build." he added.

The program will seek approval this summer from Dr. Delores Etter, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, in a program readiness review, to build two test aircraft before the next milestone decision to enter full-rate production of the Poseidon.

Testing will be performed here by Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) and VX-1.

‘‘This is a transformational program and an acquisition approach unlike any other. This is the first time the Navy will use an existing production line integrating both commercial and Navy aircraft, providing both time and cost reduction by not constructing a Navy-specific line," said Capt. Mike Moran, leader of NAVAIR's P-8 program. ‘‘I am confident in, and proud of, the dedicated, integrated team that is motivated and committed to executing this program successfully. We are ready to provide a new generation in maritime mission capability to the fleet we serve."

The P-8 program plans to provide 108 Poseidon aircraft to aviators beginning in 2013.

Copyright © 2007 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraPhoto by Carla Chang-Simpson "...Record-setting E-2C test aircraft retired - Thursday, August 16, 2007..." WebSite: TESTER http://www.dcmilitary.com/ stories/ 081607/ tester_27954.shtml [22AUG2007]

VX-20 said goodbye to a record-setting aircraft recently when E-2C Hawkeye 535 completed one last preflight inspection, one last final check and one last turn onto taxiway Alpha before leaving Pax River April 17.

VX-20 had been home to the aircraft for the last 19 years where it set 19 National Aeronautic Association records, all while serving as an asset for testing and evaluation for the entire E-2 fleet. The aircraft departed this spring.

‘‘Arguably, this aircraft has done more for the E-2 fleet than any other plane," said Lt. Cmdr. James Borghardt, platform coordinator for VX-20's E-2C integrated product team.

The Hawkeye was flown by VX-20 flight crew Lt. Cmdrs. Ryan Bryla, Dave Eisen and John Digiovacchino, to the site of its retirement at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.,

‘‘The aircraft was a valuable tool because it was a dedicated test asset, fully instrumented to evaluate a variety of flight tests," said Bryla.

Hawkeye 535 arrived at VX-20 directly off the production line in 1988 to serve as a test plane for the benefit of the fleet's E-2C aviators.

The aircraft served as the primary test asset for the engine upgrade from the Allison T56-A-425 to the Rolls Royce turboprop T56-A-427 used on today's Hawkeyes. The testing provided an assessment of how the older E-2C model aircraft would respond to the new engines and the increase in horsepower. Once the aircraft's engine was upgraded, the flight crew began breaking many world records in the turboprop airplane category. Most records set are still held by this aircraft, including the altitude-without-payload record of 41,253 feet and the time-to-climb to a height of 3,000 meters record of 3 minutes and 1 second.

Hawkeye 535 was used for the evaluation of the all-composite, eight-bladed NP2000 propeller system that is now operational on all squadron E-2s. The tests were used as the foundation for today's ongoing C-2 NP2000 program evaluation.

The future E-2 community also will benefit from the retiree. Hawkeye 535 completed numerous tests in support of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, which completed its maiden flight Aug. 3.

‘‘Hawkeye 535 provided almost 20 years of service to keep naval aviators safe, capable and current. It provided the necessary test results on which our team could base many concepts for the Hawkeye of the next 40 years", said Capt. Randy Mahr, NAVAIR's Hawkeye program manager.

Since its arrival at the air depot in California, Hawkeye 535 has been dismantled and its parts sent back to the Navy supply system. This process gives the E-2?C-2 production line access to materiel not in-stock or with long procurement lead-times, reducing maintenance turn-around-time.

‘‘The aircraft will continue to serve by providing readily available parts to the operational fleet and improve mission-readiness," said Leon Julienne, deputy program manager of planning for Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, NAS North Island, Calif.

VX-20 will acquire another fully instrumented aircraft for testing like Hawkeye 535, when its successor, the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye arrives in the winter of 2009.

Copyright © 2007 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Chief test pilot to relieve VX-20 CO at ceremony - Thursday, November 9, 2006..." WebSite: DCMILITARY.COM http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/110906/tester_27830.shtml [09NOV2006]

History ThumbnailCamera(L) Cmdr. Roger Ligon and (R) Cmdr. John Lemmon VX-20 Chief Test Pilot Cmdr. Roger Ligon will relieve Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Wright during a change of command ceremony today at 10 a.m. in Hangar 306. NAWCAD Commander Capt. Steven Eastburg will be the guest speaker.

Taking over as chief test pilot will be Cmdr. John ‘‘Chet" Lemmon.

Ligon has been chief test pilot since 2005, serving previously at the P-3 program office (PMA-290) as deputy program manager for P-3 ASW systems. From November 2002 to winter 2004, he was VX-20's P-3 department head.

He was commissioned an ensign in December 1987 and after flight training in NAS Pensacola, Florida, he was designated a naval flight officer in November 1988. After completing fleet replacement training in the P-3C Orion at Patrol Squadron 30, his first fleet assignment was with the Woodpeckers of VP-4, located at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, where he served as avionics?armament division officer and NATOPS Officer.

He made deployments to NAS Bermuda, NAS Keflavik, Iceland, NS Rota, Spain and NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal, qualifying as tactical coordinator and patrol plane mission commander.

In 1992, he returned to VP-30 as a flight instructor, and during this tour, he earned a master's degree in materials engineering from the University of Florida. He reported aboard the USS Nimitz in July 1995 as assistant air operations officer, deploying to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean and qualifying as Case III air operations watch officer and conning officer.

After graduation from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1997, he reported to the Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron here where he conducted developmental test on the P-3C. His next assignment was at BUPERS Sea Duty Component in Dallas before returning again to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in November 2002.

Ligon is a graduate of the Defense Systems Management College Advanced Program Management Course. His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards) and the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards).

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Chief test pilot to relieve VX-20 CO on Nov. 9 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DCMILITARY.COM http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/110206/tester_27820.shtml [04NOV2006]

VX-20's Chief Test Pilot Roger Ligon will relieve Commanding Officer Steven Wright at a Nov. 9 change of command ceremony.

The guest speaker will be Capt. Steven Eastburg, NAWCAD Commander, and the ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. in hangar 306.

Ligon was commissioned an Ensign in December 1987, and after flight training in Pensacola, Fla., he was designated a Naval Flight Officer in November 1988.

After completing fleet replacement training in the P-3C Orion at VP-30, his first fleet assignment was with the World-Famous Woodpeckers of VP-49, located at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, where he served as Avionics?Armament Division Officer and NATOPS Officer.

He made deployments to NAS Bermuda, NAS Keflavik, Iceland, NS Rota, Spain and NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal, qualifying as Tactical Coordinator and Patrol Plane Mission Commander. In 1992, Ligon returned to VP-30 as a flight instructor. During this tour, he earned a M.S. degree in Materials Engineering from the University of Florida. He reported aboard the USS Nimitz in July 1995 as Assistant Air Operations Officer, deploying to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean and qualifying as Case III air operations watch officer and conning officer.

He was selected as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer and before entering United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1996. After graduation in the winter of 1997, he reported to the Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron here where he conducted developmental test on the P-3C. His next assignment was at BUPERS Sea Duty Component in Dallas, Texas. In November 2002, he returned to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and assumed the duties as P-3 Department Head at VX-20. In the winter of 2004, Ligon assumed duties at the P-3 Program Office (PMA-290) as Deputy Program Manager for P-3 ASW systems and in 2005 he became Chief Test Pilot at VX-20.

Ligon is a graduate of the Defense Systems Management College Advanced Program Management Course. His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal (five awards) and the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards).

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...E-2D mobilizes first-flight tests - Thursday, September 21, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/092106/tester_27867.shtml [05OCT2006]

By Drema Ballengee-Grunst
PMA 231 Communications Support

The Advanced Hawkeye program at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland is working with Northrop Grumman Corporation to outfit the first mobile telemetry testing unit that will save money and kick-start a live-look at systems on the Navy's next-generation command-and-control aircraft.

A tractor trailer with sides displaying the Hawkeye and the E-2D logo sits at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland Atlantic Test Range where range employees are installing test systems, displays and panels.

‘‘The modular test system is enabling the largest scale support the range has provided to a program. We have married an NGC trailer and Navy ground test stations to get the testing done safely and efficiently by using a mature and proven system put in a mobile unit," said Dennis Normyle, telemetry engineering lead.

Normyle explains the marriage provides savings to the Navy by providing the ability to validate test points on the ground in preparation for first flight that would normally be gathered in the air during a much more comprehensive flight test plan after completion of the first aircraft.

In the past, ground and flight testing would take place twice - first by industry, and then by the Navy test team. Integrated teaming ‘‘allows joint testing and prior-to first flight, the time and opportunity to develop and build strong working relationships with the people we will be flying this first aircraft with," said Lt. Drew Ballinger of VX-20, who will be part of the first aircrew to fly an Advanced Hawkeye.

The testing unit also allows engineers to gather real-time data from systems operating simultaneously.

‘‘We have the ability to test cutting edge systems without reinventing – using existing telemetry systems that will transfer from location to location to perform tests on developmental systems during operational system tests that will occur in St. Augustine, here at VX-20, and at any carrier or off-site operation events," said Normyle.

The trailer will be operational this fall and will travel to Florida next spring to begin ground testing when the first E-2D rolls off the NGC production line, which continues to pack the first Advanced Hawkeye airframe with the latest in net-centric warfare avionics.

As the test trailer develops, anticipation of first flight builds among the Advanced Hawkeye project and test officer team. The group of five manages approximately 15 test plans in various specialized areas, such as missions systems, radar and communications. Each crew member is paired with an industry counterpart to work as co-leads on the testing and plans for first flight.

‘‘This is the biggest project going on right now. Our approach is one of excitement and eagerness and we are looking forward to making a difference in the E-2 community," said Ballinger.

The five officers are recent test pilot school graduates and received their assignments two months after graduation. Today, they are flying current E-2 tests in preparation for their first flight one year from now.

‘‘Across the program, integration and partnering are taking place. Program engineers, logisticians and net-centric warfare teams are speaking each other's languages and breaking through barriers between specialties to address future training now," said Capt. Randy Mahr, Advanced Hawkeye program manager.

‘‘This success is part of our team's contribution to the Navywide goal of delivering the right force, with the right readiness, and at the right cost," said Rear Adm. David Venlet, Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft. ‘‘You'll see much more of this as the Naval Aviation Enterprise continues to streamline development and procurement of the systems we send forward to our fleet aviators."

The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a partnership among Naval leadership to optimize processes that maintain current readiness, while investing in future readiness.

The enterprise concept focuses Naval aviation on the single fleet-driven metric of producing aircraft ready for tasking at reduced cost.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Navy Global Hawk performs in RIMPAC - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/082406/tester_20060824003.shtml [05OCT2006]

The Navy's RQ-4A Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) system, made its first entry into Hawaiian skies when it participated in the Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC exercise in July.

RIMPAC is a major maritime exercise conducted in the waters off Hawaii, this year from June 26 through July 28. RIMPAC 2006 brought together military forces from Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For the GHMD participation in RIMPAC, the aircraft was based at Edwards AFB, Calif. Operations in Hawaiian airspace demanded a flight of roughly 2,500 miles each way to reach the operating areas, a task that fully exercised the range and endurance of the aircraft and its crew. Flight crews from test squadron VX-20, which operates the GHMD aircraft for Naval Air Systems Command PMA-263, were reinforced by personnel from the USAF's 452nd Flight Test Squadron.

In four flights, for nearly 100 hours of flight time, the GHMD aircraft explored the use of high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, and provided more than 24 hours of persistent, maritime surveillance in a variety of scenarios to Coalition Forces, Maritime Component Commander, located in Hawaii, as well as to USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Bonhome Richard. The tasks performed by GHMD included maintenance of maritime situational awareness, tracking of contacts of interest, and imagery support for amphibious and strike operations - precisely the kinds of tasks that the Navy frequently must perform in defense of the United States.

The lessons learned from GHMD operations are providing support for the Navy's future unmanned maritime surveillance program, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) system. These lessons include analyzing the effects of available time-on-station following delays en-route to a distant area of responsibility, and the associated consequences in a dynamic coalition maritime environment.

Throughout RIMPAC, imagery and tracks from the GHMD aircraft were transmitted to NAS Patuxent River, where they were analyzed by a team from Navy squadrons VX-20, VX-1, and VC-6 and forwarded to exercise participants in Hawaii - a round trip of 10,000 miles, not including the distance involved in the satellite links. ‘‘The ability of the GHMD system to accomplish this is a great demonstration of the kind of network-centric warfighting capability that will form the core of the Navy's future capabilities," said Dave Seagle, Navy lead for GHMD.

The GHMD aircraft, manufactured by Northrop-Grumman, is a variant of the USAF RQ-4A Global Hawk used since 2001 to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. With a wingspan of 116 feet, a length of 44 feet, and a gross weight of 25,600 lbs, the Global Hawk is the largest unmanned aircraft in service. It is also one of the most capable, operating at altitudes in excess of 60,000 ft for more than 30 hours. Sensors on the GHMD aircraft include a radar with maritime search, synthetic aperture, and inverse synthetic aperture capabilities; an electronic camera operating in both the visible light and infrared spectra, and an electronic support measures system.

This year's RIMPAC exercise was the twentieth in a series of exercises conducted since 1971. More than 40 ships, six submarines, 160 aircraft and almost 19,000 Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Coastguardsmen participated in RIMPAC training operations. RIMPAC is intended to enhance the tactical proficiency of participating units in a wide array of combined operations at sea. By enhancing interoperability, RIMPAC helps promote stability in the Pacific Rim region to the benefit of all participating nations. This year's exercise included a variety of surface combatant ships, submarines, tactical aircraft, and amphibious forces. The United States Third Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Barry Costello, was responsible for overall exercise coordination.

The Navy's UAS program office is completing it's Persistent Unmanned Maritime Airborne Surveillance (PUMAS) broad agency announcement (BAA), which is intended to solicit industry's inputs in mapping the way forward for the Navy's UAS family of systems, including BAMS. PUMAS, combined with GHMD's active role the Navy's Sea Trial events, has afforded the Navy valuable insight into a variety of capabilities that contribute to the Navy's overall UAS missions in support of Naval and Marine forces afloat.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Hawks, hounds test glowing propellers - Thursday, June 8, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/060806/41837-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

Drema Ballengee-Grunst

The NAVAIR E-2/C-2 community is testing propeller paint to enhance ground crew awareness of Hawkeye and Greyhound aircraft during low- or no-light operations to prevent propeller strikes.

"The low-light-level paint provides a visual warning when the aircraft is turning engines and will enhance situational awareness during all phases of night operations," said Capt. Randy Mahr, E-2/C-2 program manager. "This places the Navy's safety-first approach front and center in the E-2/C-2 community."

The propellers on the E-2 and C-2 fleet are marked with red and white stripes that are visible by day. Test and evaluation squadron VX-20 here is testing a new high-performance, low-light illumination paint enabling the propeller to be seen under all light conditions. The paint must provide enough afterglow to warn flight deck Sailors without distracting pilots during shipboard operations.

The initial operational evaluation was completed at VAW-121 in Norfolk, Va., during April 2005. Following successful results and feedback from squadron safety personnel regarding carrier night operations, VAW-124 deployed one of its aircraft with both propellers painted during a six-month cruise on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

"The propellers glow in the areas where it is most important for them to be seen. On the bow and stern - particularly on dark, moonless nights - the propellers show up and make a huge difference as you approach them at either end. All of the maintainers commented while out on deployment how much better these propellers work than the others," said the squadron's maintenance officer, Lt. Cmdr. Tom Gelker, who returned from the deployment in mid-March.

On-going test results show that after eight months and one hundred hours of logged flight time, engineers observed minimal wear on the propeller. During testing February 28, engineers started the propeller at 8 p.m. and upon return at 4:30 the following morning, the afterglow on the spinning propeller was still visible. VAW-124 reported the same.

"The propellers glowed a lot longer than we thought they would even after returning from hours of flight", said Gelker.

The product incorporates strontium aluminate photo luminescent phosphors. The product developed in the mid-1990s, releases visible light after absorption of energy from UV components of light - both from natural and artificial sources. The paint fully charges in minutes, can be repeatedly re-charged, is neither radioactive nor hazardous. Once the light source is removed, the luminance dims slowly with time.

The technology behind the paint is provided to the Navy under the small business innovative research program by Defense Holding, Inc., a company that develops and implements emergency evacuation systems. DHI is working closely with Navy aircraft maintainers to train them in the application of the new paint.

"The product is equally easy to store, easy to mix, apply and remove, and we believe, will provide no more maintenance than the current paint being used on the propellers", said DHI's Joe Jones.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Global Hawk finds new nest - Wednesday, March 29, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/032906/40450-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

Sandra Schroeder

The U.S. Navy's first Global Hawk unmanned air system (UAS), N-1, an RQ-4A (BuNo 166509), arrived here Tuesday, its new home. The vehicle is one of two RQ-4A aircraft that the Navy has acquired through the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program under the management of the Navy's UAS program office, PMA-263.

The GHMD N-1 aircraft, operated by test squadron VX-20, with support from a Navy-contractor integrated product team, will help develop Navy concepts of operations, and tactics, techniques and procedures to support integration of a persistent unmanned Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability into the fleet. The GHMD program's Global Hawk represents the largest and most advanced unmanned system in the American military.

With the arrival at Patuxent River, the GHMD team will first complete local area system checkout and training. Then, work ups begin in preparation for the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX) set for April 2006. JEFX 06 is an Air Force Chief of Staff directed series of experiments that combines live, virtual and constructive air, space and ground force simulations. Operated from Patuxent River for this upcoming experiment, GHMD N-1 will demonstrate the utility of a high altitude, long endurance UAS equipped with sensors to collect and share persistent maritime ISR data and enhance maritime domain awareness for U.S. Northern Command and other federal agencies.

Since its first flight Oct. 6, 2004, GHMD N-1 has logged more than 200 flight hours. In addition to the normal checkout flights performed on any military aircraft, N-1 has flown from Edwards Air Force Base to characterize the performance of Navy-specific sensor modifications, and participated in the Navy's Trident Warrior 05 experiment. In an example of inter-service cooperation, N-1 has also supported a wide range of tests and training for the Air Force, freeing up its assets for activities overseas.

Capt. Paul Morgan, program manager for PMA-263 said, "I offer great credit to this government/industry team for the countless hours and immeasurable effort to bring this vehicle home. The Navy now has its greatest opportunity yet, to fully understand and harness the potential of a marinized, high-altitude, long endurance UAS. I look forward to the coming months with great anticipation."

Originally manufactured for the Air Force by Northrop-Grumman, the Global Hawk aircraft is 44-feet long, has a 116-foot wingspan and weighs 25,600 lbs. It can operate at altitudes in excess of 60,000 ft., and remain aloft for 30 hours. These Navy aircraft and their associated ground control stations incorporate enhanced equipment and software that goes a step beyond their Air Force counterparts -- allowing worldwide, specialized Navy operations over the open oceans.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Joint testing of U.S. Coast Guard radar equipment a success - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/091406/tester_27873.shtml [05OCT2006]

By Vicky Falcin
NAVAIR Public Affairs

A unique series of radar tests involving six different U.S. Coast Guard aircraft, with six different types of radars, a six-man life raft with crew and a man in the water will hopefully lay the foundation for the development of a new model search?detection strategy for the Coast Guard.

The test results, which are due Oct.1, will also be used by the organization to measure current radar capabilities and establish requirements for future radar acquisition.

The radar tests, which were held earlier this summer, involved one of every type of aircraft the Coast Guard flies.

Lt. Rob Barthelmes is a Coast Guard test pilot assigned to VX-20 at Patuxent River. Barthelmes, who was involved in the testing as test plan co-author, and project pilot, was one of at least 45 Coast Guard members who participated in the tests.

‘‘Our purpose was to document the detection capability of our current radars, optimize our search patterns and develop a standardized test procedure for evaluating future radar acquisition," he said. ‘‘The event went off without a hitch."

According to Barthelmes, there were 61.6 flight hours recorded in the two-day event, which accumulated more than 50 hours of data.

‘‘We have a truckload of data," said Tom Szynborski, a radar test engineer who works in the sensor system division. As one of the test plan co-authors, he is responsible for data analysis from this series of tests.

‘‘Data is the most critical part of the program," said Szynborski. ‘‘Accurate interpretation of the data is vital to mission success, and this is probably the most challenging project I've ever worked on."

According to Szynborski, some of the analysis is being worked through a collaborative effort with the Coast Guard headquarters Office of Aeronautical Engineering in Washington, D.C., the Aircraft Repair and Supply Center in Elisabeth City, N.C., and the Coast Guard Research and Development Center in Groton, Conn. – adding a joint and unique perspective to the test efforts.

‘‘We're presently in the data reduction stage," said Barthelmes, ‘‘but we're hopeful to have our results complete by Oct. 1."

Bob Blevins is project coordinator and works as a liaison between NAVAIR and the Coast Guard.

‘‘Search radar can pinpoint small things far away," explained Blevins, ‘‘while weather radar scan broad areas. We wanted to know when our calibrated targets (ten, five and one square meter each), the USCG six-man raft and man in the water would show up on each of the radar screens."

According to Blevins, the test aircraft flew ‘‘racetrack" patterns finding the maximum range they could each detect the targets at different altitudes.

‘‘We did inner bay testing which was local and low sea state," he said, ‘‘and then we ran out over the Atlantic where there were higher sea states for more tests."

According to Barthelmes, another aspect of the testing was to record corporate knowledge.

‘‘Our individual (aircraft) communities know their radar capabilities," he said, ‘‘but we need to document that knowledge and then feed it into our new search and rescue model."

The Coast Guard has two new radars already under contract – one for the new HC-235A Puffin, and one for the HC-130J. The HC-130H radar is also being reconfigured.

The six Coast Guard aircraft participating in the test included the Falcon jet (HU25), the C130H and C130J. Rotary wing Coast Guard aircraft included in the test are the HH60J, the HH65C and the MH68. The NAVAIR range clearance AIRTECH C-12 also participated with a belly mounted USCG type radar.

For more information about the joint Navy?Coast Guard radar test, contact Bob Blevins NAVAIR?USCG liaison at robert.blevins@navy.mil.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...NMCRS fund drive kicks off - Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/021506/39707-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

The NAS Patuxent River Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) will kick off its annual fund drive Wednesday, at 8 a.m. in Building 401.

This fund drive allows us to help our own. All funds collected during the fund drive allow the NMCRS, a non-profit organization, to assist our active-duty and retired service members, their family members, and their survivors with emergency financial assistance, education loans and grants, and other services in times of need.

The NMCRS can provide our Sailors and Marines with interest-free loans or grants to help with emergency needs including emergency transportation, funeral expenses, medical/dental bills, food, rent, and utilities, disaster relief assistance, child care expenses, essential vehicle repairs and unforeseen family emergencies.

The NMCRS also offers budget counseling, education loans and grants for spouses of active-duty service members and for children of active-duty, retired and deceased service members, information on education loans for active-duty service members, and coordination with other military offices and civilian agencies.

Our local NMCRS office here at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland is led by Maureen Farrell, the only paid staff member in the local office. Volunteer staff members include ADC(AW) Bruce Wolfe from VX-20, who chairs the After Hours Assistance Program by scheduling and managing the 27 active duty chief petty officers who provide NMCRS assistance after the office is closed.

Also volunteering on the staff is Diane Bennitt, who, for the last five years, has been the chairman of the volunteers and has overseen the eight volunteers who staff the office on a weekly basis. Patti Thumm manages, trains and schedules the caseworkers. Bennitt and Thumm have been volunteering with the NMCRS for more than 30 years.

Volunteer Bunny Venlet chairs the layette and Budget for Baby Program. For those thinking about having a child or for those who are already pregnant, NMCRS offers a monthly Budget for Baby class in the Fleet and Family Service Center. At the conclusion of the class, each family in attendance receives a "Junior Seabag," which is filled with a Gerber baby starter pack and a hand-made afghan and cap knit by volunteers.

When you see our NMCRS volunteers or have the opportunity, please thank them for what they do for our service members.

During 2005, the NAS Patuxent River, Maryland NMCRS team provided more than $153,000 in financial assistance in 176 cases. Approximately $140,000 was provided in interest-free loans, and more than $13,000 was issued in grants, making the average amount per case $869.93. NMCRS caseworkers provided budget counseling and referral cases to more than 50 individuals and families.

These statistics prove how important the NMCRS fund drive is to the Sailors and Marines at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Your command and/or departmental NMCRS coordinators are asked to be at this kick-off. For more information about the NMCRS, call our local office at 301-342-4739.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...And the Errington goes to... - Wednesday, February 1, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/020106/39431-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

Jim Jenkins

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 shipmates earn both Wing maintenance awards this year.

Named after living legend retired Lt. Cmdr. Harry Errington, the Wing's maintenance awards are given to the top maintenance officer and chief each year. This year Col. Joe Mortensen, Naval Test Wing Atlantic commander, presented the awards to VX-20 Sailors Lt. Cmdr. Tim Norton and Aviation Structural Mechanic Senior Chief Mark Seganos Monday during a ceremony in the Cedar Point Officers' Club. Mortensen announced the awards with Oscar flair. He said, with a sly grin, "and the Errington goes to," and then dramatically paused as if waiting for an unheard drum roll before revealing the names to the audience.

The Wing renamed its annual maintenance officer and maintenance chief awards in 2002 in honor of Errington, an icon at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and among the aviation maintenance community.

The honor is clearly the award winners'.

Norton, the VX-20 Maintenance officer, said that he considers this award a group award, not an individual one.

"Lt. Cmdr. Norton embodies the vision, tenacity, maintenance expertise, and legacy of the aviation maintenance officer for whom this award is named," said Capt. Steven Wright, VX-20 commanding officer. "Like Harry Errington, Norton is a consummate aviation maintenance professional who has devoted his career to the improvement of aircraft readiness, combining a sincere desire to 'fix' the system of aviation repair and servicing with a genuine interest in his personnel. "

Norton is a mustang -- a Navy officer who has come up through the enlisted ranks -- who's been in the Navy since 1978, and after A school was rated as an electrician's mate. After serving aboard USS America (CV 66) in Operation Desert Storm, Norton was promoted to chief petty officer, and then he earned his commission as ensign in the Navy.

"The award is a team award," Norton said. "Every guy does their own part. It's a huge team and a huge team effort."

Everybody does their part in the maintenance shop to make sure the development and test of the Navy's big wing aircraft keeps going, said Norton, a Jacksonville, Fla. native.

Norton said he is honored to be named the Harry Errington Maintenance Officer of the Year Award.

"He's a hallmark of Naval aviation and the LDO community," Norton said. He's a wonderful guy to work with. Harry has been in Naval aviation longer than [Seganos] and I have been alive combined."

Seganos, a Pennsylvania native, is humbled by the fact that he earned the honor. The competition was impressive, he said. Both Norton and Seganos take pride in the fact that VX-20 swept the awards this year, both noting that is a rare feat.

"Seganos is the finest Maintenance Chief I have ever observed. I personally selected him to serve as VX-20's Maintenance Master Chief," Wright said. "As the heart and soul of my maintenance department, Senior Chief Seganos epitomizes the traits of leadership, vision, tenacity, and unequalled excellence. His relentless pursuit of mission completion through mentorship of young Sailors and Marines drives the successes achieved by VX-20."

NAS Patuxent River, Maryland is a different kind of military base. Both Norton and Seganos said that it takes a little getting used to understanding how things work here as compared with being at a traditional Naval air station.

"There's a big change dealing with the contract world and contract maintenance," Seganos said. It takes getting used to for someone coming from the fleet.

Errington enlisted in the Navy in 1951 during the Korean War where he found himself maintaining aircraft like the Bearcat, Hellcat, Skyraider, Mauler, SNB, R-4D and PB-4Y. He even flew in many of the aircraft as an enlisted crewman. By the time he ended his Navy civilian career as the aircraft maintenance department head of the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate here he was in charge of maintaining modern aircraft like the A-6, F-14 and F/A-18.

He officially retired three times -- once as a lieutenant commander in 1974, once as a civil servant in 1989 and once as a museum volunteer in 1998. But, he continues to put in his time to help make NAS Patuxent River, Maryland a world-class facility. His legacy lives on in the men and women in the maintenance field motivated to keep the Navy and Marine Corps flying.

"To have my name associated with that here at the test center is a great honor for my wife and I," Errington said.

Norton and Seganos both said that NAS Patuxent River, Maryland is a special place to work and are savoring their time here.

"Those two men certainly are leaders on this test center, and have been leaders in the Navy," Errington said. "It was a privilege for me to be there."

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Hawkeye tests in-flight refueling - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/011906/39188-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

By Drema Ballengee-Grunst

NAVAIR for the first time demonstrated the Navy's premier command-and-control aircraft's potential to refuel and stay in action longer.

During flight tests in December and early January, the Hawkeye program (PMA-231) fitted an E-2C with a refueling test probe and successfully connected to a tanker aircraft over the skies of NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Test and evaluation squadron VX-20 conducted the simulations using the Navy's KC-130 and newest tanker aircraft, the F/A-18E Super Hornet.

VX-20's testing event marks the first time a Navy E-2 demonstrated plugging into the basket. The E-2 aircraft sported a test probe - half of the refueling probe and drogue (basket) system used on a variety of Navy tactical aircraft today.

"Joint commanders rely heavily upon the E-2 for command-and-control operations during in-theatre missions. Refueling increases the E-2's endurance and broadens its presence," said Capt. Randy Mahr, PMA-231 program manager. "By examining the E-2's role in the Global War on Terrorism as well as here at home in support of Katrina relief, we know the benefits could be of great significance."

"In situations where there is a need to be there, it is always better to be able to stay there," said E-2 pilot Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Winkel.

Program engineer Chris Gay said if the Navy formalizes a refueling program for the E-2, more follow-on testing will include evaluating the performance during unusual or difficult operations.

"These tests would be performed in less-than-ideal weather conditions and mission scenarios with a variety of tanker aircraft," said Jason Brys, another program engineer.

During testing, the aircraft plugged into the basket without actually refueling, to evaluate flying qualities, noise, field of view and basket movement during the normal process of transferring fuel. The team made 16 successful connections in December with a KC-130 and connected with a Super Hornet from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland test and evaluation squadron VX-23 in a flight lasting just over an hour Jan 5.

The program will evaluate testing results to determine whether it is beneficial to create a full testing program.

The program looks to E-2 aviators when evaluating mission aircrew requirements. If implemented, the new refueling capability will appear first on the fleet's E-2C Hawkeye 2000 variant. The E-2D would receive the probe as a retrofit following the Advanced Hawkeye's initial production, which is underway at Northrop Grumman's St. Augustine, Fla. plant.

Refueling has been a concept circulating in the E-2 community for some time, including previous tests executed with limited instrumentation and without using a probe. Test goals were achieved by simulating the refueling pre-contact position behind the basket with no temperature rise to the aircraft. This was a precursor to current testing in which crews used an E-2 equipped with testing instrumentation. During the recent flights, the team attached photo markers to the E-2 structure to help photographically measure aircraft position while recording temperatures and pressures and other test indicators of interest to the team.

"This success is part of our team's continuing contribution to the Navy-wide goal of delivering the right force, with the right readiness, and at the right cost," said Rear Adm. David Venlet, program executive officer for tactical aircraft programs. Venlet oversees the efforts of PMA 231. "You'll see much more of this as the Naval Aviation Enterprise continues to streamline development and procurement of the systems we send forward to our fleet warfighters."

The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a partnership among Naval leadership to optimize processes that maintain current readiness while investing in future readiness.

The enterprise concept focuses Naval aviation on the single fleet-driven metric of producing aircraft ready for tasking at reduced cost.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...C-2 rewired prototype debuts in the fleet - Wednesday, January 4, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/010406/38864-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

By Drema Ballengee-Grunst

NAVAIR held the premiere for the C-2 community's "lead star" Dec. 14, marking completion of a blockbuster project replacing 23 miles of wiring in the first of 35 of the Navy's C-2A aircraft.

Norfolk carrier logistics support squadron VRC-40, the Rawhides, hosted officials from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and NAS North Island, San Diego, California as the prototype aircraft returned to the fleet.

Approximately 150 C-2 community members achieved the critical engineering milestone after designing and installing miles of state-of-the-art wiring at Naval Air Depot, North Island. NAS Patuxent River, Maryland's test and evaluation squadron, VX-20 then tested the wiring for final return to the fleet.

During the ceremony, aircraft records were turned over by PMA 231's Lt. Cmdr. Sean McDermott and Jimmy Fingerle to Cmdr. Brad Brown of VRC-40. McDermott reminded everyone that although the focus for the day was on the first C-2 to be delivered, this success would be followed by the rewire of all C-2s operating in the fleet.

"One more is already rewired," he said, as he reemphasized PMA-231's commitment to deliver approximately five per year through 2012.

Brown, who had the opportunity to spend some time on the rewired aircraft, said that the "hand-artisan work represented impeccable craftsmanship."

The C-2 plays a key role in carrier operations and is the only aircraft of its kind - transporting mail, cargo, fleet personnel, distinguished visitors and dignitaries to and from the carrier.

"Replacing the wiring is the most important thing we could do as a community to extend the safety and service life of the aircraft," he said.

"This success is part of our team's continuing contribution to the Navy-wide goal of delivering the right force, with the right readiness, and at the right cost," said Rear Adm. David Venlet, Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs. Venlet oversees the efforts of PMA 231. "You'll see much more of this as the Naval Aviation Enterprise continues to streamline development and procurement of the systems we send forward to our fleet warfighters."

The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a partnership among Naval leadership to optimize processes that maintain current readiness while investing in future readiness. The enterprise concept focuses Naval aviation on the single fleet-driven metric of producing aircraft ready for tasking at reduced cost.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Circa 2005

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Global Hawk tests target detection - Thursday, November 3, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/110305/38002-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

The U.S. Navy's most advanced unmanned aerial system (UAS), the RQ-4A Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD), participated with the Air Force in a congressionally-directed demonstration last week, to detect airborne targets.

The 12.3 hour mission, flown in USN Pacific Ocean test ranges off southern California, tested the effectiveness of the Global Hawk's radar to detect small aircraft in flight. The tests conducted will determine the capability of the radar to find and track airborne targets, and to pass sensor information in real time to ground facilities across the country.

This flight illustrated the highly joint nature of the Global Hawk program. The air vehicle, RQ-4A, is a Navy aircraft flown by Navy contractor operators - and was flown from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on an Air Force test program. Data from the sensors was passed to Air Force and Navy ground facilities.

The RQ-4A Global Hawk, manufactured by Northrop-Grumman, is the most sophisticated UAS in the American military. With a length of 44 feet, a wingspan of 116 feet, and a gross weight of 25,600 pounds, the Global Hawk is comparable in size to a U-2 or a small business jet. Operating at an altitude of approximately 60,000 feet, the Global Hawk endurance is well in excess of 24 hours. Sensors include radar and a high-resolution digital camera operating in both visible and infrared spectra. Data is passed to the ground stations in real time by line-of-sight and high-speed satellite communications links.

The Global Hawk made its first flight on Feb. 28, 1998. Since then, RQ-4As have flown approximately 7,000 hours, including 4,000 combat hours in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Naval Air Systems Command, PMA-263, has acquired two GHMD aircraft and associated ground stations to support the development of tactics and operating procedures for future unmanned maritime patrol systems. To perform maritime search missions, the sensor suite carried by the GHMD aircraft has undergone extensive software modifications enabling new maritime radar modes, specialized software in both the aircraft and ground stations, and the incorporation of passive electronic sensors, unique to the Navy UASs. These modifications are being tested by test and evaluation squadron, VX-20, which will operate the GHMD system in flight tests and tactical experiments. After initial sensor testing on the West Coast, the Navy's Global Hawks will be ferried during the winter of 2006 to Pax River, the main operating base for the system.

PEO (W) Public Affairs Office

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Flight tests done for C-130J mission package - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/102005/37745-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

The Joint Tactical Airborne Multi-Mission System (JTAMMS) completed flight testing at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland aboard a U. S. Coast Guard C-130J aircraft Sept. 13. JTAMMS is a USCG led quad-service effort bringing together USCG, USAF, USN and USMC assets and capabilities to demonstrate a C4ISR mission package for the C-130J aircraft. JTAMMS is the first NAVAIR C4ISR mission suite for the newest member of the venerable C-130 family, the C-130J model. It also represents the first carriage of the Northrop-Grumman LITENING AT pod on any version of the C-130. The system was developed by the AIR 4.5 Hairy Buffalo team under CDR Ron Carvalho, with Mr. David Allocca acting as Lead Engineer. Systems Engineering/Class Desk functions were performed by AIR 4.1's Mr. Tom Esposito, the VX-20 test team was lead by LT Rob Barthelmes (USCG) and Mr. Mark Byers, and overall NAVAIR Project Manager was Mr. Bob Blevins (AIR 1.1).

The NAVAIR project team developed JTAMMS and prototyped it, the USCG Aircraft Rework and Supply Center Elizabeth City, NC fabricated and installed the required aircraft modifications, the USAF provided the universal wing pylon to carry the LITENING AT pod, and the USMC provided the LITENING AT sensor pod, which was mounted on the aircraft outboard wing station. Northrop-Grumman, also a core team member, integrated the pod and developed an unclassified tactical exploitation system for use with JTAMMS. Lockheed-Martin, developer of the C-130J, contributed to the flight clearance process by providing structural suitability analysis. The prototype effort including limited flight test was completed in less than 20 months.

JTAMMS is a Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO) "pallet" sensor suite that requires no permanent modifications to the airframe. This RORO pallet includes seating for two operators. The JTAMMS suite is connected to the Northrop Grumman LITENING AT pod, and cued by the aircraft radar cursor position. A monitor driven by the JTAMMS suite is mounted on the flight deck to provide situational awareness to the pilots. A wiring kit that can be readily installed or removed by maintenance crews is installed in the aircraft with no permanent modifications. Once the airplane is wired the wiring kit can be left in the aircraft even when the JTAMMS suite is not installed as it has no impact on the basic airframe. The open architecture of the JTAMMS system allows new sensors and mission systems to be rapidly and cost effectively integrated into the suite. Potential system spiral upgrades include wide band satellite communications, search radar, and electronic support measures (ESM) with the selected emitter identify (SEI) system.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Maritime program office leadership changes hands - Thursday, October 6, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/100605/37523-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

Renee Hatcher

Capt. Joe Rixey today relieves Capt. Steve Eastburg as manager of NAVAIR's Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) during a ceremony in the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) hangar.

"I feel very fortunate that I am able to remain in PMA-290 and continue to work with such an incredible team that is setting new standards in acquisition," said Rixey, whose last assignment was as the P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead in PMA-290. "I look forward to leading this amazing group of professionals as we transform the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force."

Rixey's 27 years with Navy including his last tour with P-8A will serve him well as he takes the reigns of PMA-290. Cmdr. Mike Moran, replaced Rixey as the P-8A IPT lead.

P-8A is a transformational aircraft that will be the Navy's replacement for its aging fleet of P-3C Orions. In addition to P-8A, Rixey will oversee NAVAIR's P-3, EP-3 and its future replacement, and S-3 acquisition programs. PMA-290 also has a robust International Programs Department, as well as an extensive Propulsion and Power Department.

Rixey, a native of Monterey, Calif., started his naval career in August 1978 with enlistment and assignment to the Naval Academy Preparatory School leading to graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983. He was designated a naval aviator in August 1986.

Initially assigned to Patrol Squadron 17, Rixey received designations as a patrol plane commander, mission commander, NATOPS instructor pilot, and defensive air combat maneuvering instructor while making deployments to Adak, Alaska; Cubi Point, Republic of the Philippines; and Diego Garcia.

From March 1990 to September 1992 he earned a master's degree in aeronautical engineering and follow-on engineer's degree in aeronautics at the Naval Post Graduate School.

Rixey reported aboard USS Constellation (CV-64) home-ported in San Diego, where he served as a catapult and arresting gear officer, V-2 division officer, and assistant air officer (Mini-Boss). He participated in a deployment from the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to the West Coast taking him around the Horn of South America. Additionally, he participated in numerous exercises and a deployment to the Western Pacific.

After completing fleet replacement squadron training with Patrol Squadron 30, he reported to Patrol Squadron 40, Whidbey Island, Wash., where he served as safety officer and maintenance officer. He completed a deployment to Diego Garcia and served as officer in charge of the Patrol Squadron Detachment at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In July of 1997, Rixey reported to NAVAIR as the P-3 Training Systems Program Manager (PMA-205). His responsibilities included the acquisition and management of all P-3 aircrew and maintenance training and trainer devices.

In March 2000, Rixey reported as executive officer of the "Wizards" of Special Projects Patrol Squadron 2 and in March 2001, he assumed the duty as the squadron's commanding officer until March 2002. His command participated in combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The squadron was the recipient of the 2001 Battle "E" award.

Rixey reported to the Defense Acquisition University for Acquisition Program Manager Level III training and subsequently reported to NAVAIR as the deputy program manager for the ACAT 1D P-8A MMA Program. He led the P-8A team from initial stages of Concept Advanced Development, through source selection and program approval, and well into Systems Development and Demonstration before taking the PMA-290 reigns from Eastburg.

Eastburg, also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, took over PMA-290 in November 2002 and will remain at NAVAIR as the deputy program executive officer for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs (PEO-A).

"I am extremely pleased with the accomplishments and progress that this world-class team has made during the last three years in maintaining current readiness and advancing future readiness for the Navy's maritime patrol and reconnaissance fleet," Eastburg said. "I will continue to be proud of this program office as it forges ahead under Captain Rixey's skilled and expert leadership."

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Shipping ID system flies high in Hawkeye - Thursday, October 6, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/100605/37519-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

Drema Ballengee-Grunst

What is now a shipborne Universal Automatic Identification System (UAIS) is going airborne this fall. Evolving the concept to air demonstration in just seven weeks, Air NAVAIR will bring new capabilities to the E-2 Hawkeye in fulfilling homeland defense and anti-surface warfare missions. The Navy anticipates the E-2 UAIS system will significantly enhance combat identification and improve the use of battle force assets.

The UAIS is a navigation aid commonly used by commercial ships exceeding 300 tons. The system, for the most part, provides port security, traffic management, navigation safety and collision avoidance. Unlike the transponder broadcast systems currently used by the shipping industry and the U.S. Coast Guard, the fleet will operate with a receive-only capability in the Hawkeye. The aircraft will use its existing target detection capability combined with reception of UAIS ship-to-ship transmissions to improve fleet situational awareness. By employing the UAIS, aircraft and helicopters that would normally need to visually identify a target of unknown origin can focus on other critical missions.

The Hawkeye's current system provides ship location, course and speed. Using the UAIS system, the Hawkeye will also receive the ship's Maritime Mobile Service Identity number, which is the unique identification of a ship, its International Maritime Organization number, an identification related to the ship's construction, a radio call sign, the ship's name and type, the ship's destination; and its dimensions.

NAVAIR's E-2/C-2 program at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland (PMA 231) engineered and tested the system for the fleet.

"The discovery, development and use of this technology for the E-2 aircraft will enhance and advance airborne ship-to-shore communication in the command and control arena to support the warfighter," said Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Wojcik, the program's Network Centric Warfare Integrated Product Team Lead.

East Coast VAW-124, Bear Aces, aboard Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va., were outfitted with a demonstration UAIS. After successful results, the Navy will consider the system for full integration into the remaining E-2 fleet as well as the Advanced Hawkeye. Results have been very favorable so far.

"The initial report from the squadron on deployment using this initial configuration is satisfied with the system's operation . . . The system is a great enhancement to the E-2 and battle group itself," said Lt. Cmdr. Rob Palvino, E-2/C-2 Class Desk for the Commander of Naval Air Forces in Norfolk.

"This success is part of our team's contribution to the Navy-wide goal of delivering the right force, with the right readiness, and at the right cost," said Rear Adm. David Venlet, Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs. Venlet oversees the efforts of PMA 231. "You'll see much more of this as the Naval Aviation Enterprise continues to streamline development and procurement of the systems we send forward to our fleet aviators."

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Crew comes together to save aircraft, each other - Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/092805/37337-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

James Darcy

[Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series.]

The world turned upside down April 12 for the 11 occupants of a KC-130T from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) when, at 24,000 feet on a cross-country flight, a 200-pound life raft deployed from inside the left wing and snagged on the tail. With the raft functioning like a lopsided drag chute, the aircraft rolled inverted and began a spiraling dive toward earth.

Maj. Nathan Neblett worked to get the plane righted while dealing with a failure of the instrument that provided his primary reference for which way was up. In the back of the aircraft, loadmaster Sandy Hartkemeyer and five aircraft maintainers were turned into projectiles in the open tube of the fuselage, along with a storm of potentially deadly gear and supplies.

The operating procedures for the burly C-130 Hercules strictly prohibit "aerobatics of any kind (including those that produce a negative-G condition), intentional spins, excessively nose-high stalls, steep dives, and any other maneuvers resulting in excessive accelerations." Such deviations, it warns, can stress the airframe to failure, lead to unrecoverable loss of control, or both. In a matter of seconds, the plane had involuntarily broken every rule in the book.

In the cockpit, pilot Neblett was fighting for control; he had immediately disengaged the autopilot and was now making control inputs that his experience as a test pilot told him should arrest the spin. Copilot Dan Sanders, who had pulled the throttles back to idle, was scanning the instruments and fighting his instinct to reach for the yoke himself.

"It was a conscious effort; I had to throw my hands up," said Sanders, who accumulated 4,600 hours as a Marine Corps C-130 Hercules pilot before retiring as a major a year ago.

"Out of 11 people onboard, only two could do anything about it, and one of them had to let go," Neblett said.

Behind the pilots, flight engineer Wray Emrich had flown out of his seat and slammed off the ceiling of the cockpit; he later found wounds in his scalp that conformed to the arrangement of switches over his head. He managed to grab hold of his seatbelt and drag himself back down, then held on with all his strength during the violent ride, like a rodeo cowboy trying to stay on a bucking bull. Flight test engineer Ray Bacorn and navigator Craig Homer were hanging on as best they could, while everything that wasn't nailed down became airborne.

"The only thing that didn't move," Neblett said, "was our instrument panel."

Throughout the airframe, the noise was tremendous.

In the cockpit, everyone was shouting to be heard, Sanders said; his intercom switch was on the control yoke, which he could not risk grabbing.

Other occupants reported hearing the airframe groan under the strain of all the G-forces.

The most ominous sound for Emrich was the howling of the engines, though; the incredible onset of airspeed had caused the props themselves to over-speed, reaching 106 percent of their correct RPM. Flameouts were very real and deadly possibilities. But the engines held, a fact that Sanders attributes in part to the excellent responsiveness of the new Electronic Propeller Control System that was installed on the plane for testing.

In the C-130, engine speed and propeller speed are supposed to stay constant throughout flight; the actual velocity of the aircraft is controlled by changing the pitch angle of the propeller blades. The EPCS replaces the old hydraulic and mechanical system that controls propeller pitch, instead using electronic sensors and actuators that should be more reliable and respond rapidly to inputs and changes. No one, however, had ever anticipated validating the new system's performance under such dire circumstances.

As the altitude wound away, Neblett managed to get the wings level for a moment, long enough for a glimmer of hope. Then, with the life raft still attached to the left half of the tail, the KC-130T went inverted again.

"I remember thinking, 'We're never going to come out of this," recalled Emrich.

"Twenty-two years flying in the Navy," thought Hartkemeyer, "and not even a year here at VX-20, and this is it."

Still, no one gave up. Neblett continued his work at the controls, applying the best of his test piloting expertise to regain control of the stricken tanker. At some point the raging airflow over the outside of the fuselage was enough to tear almost all of the life raft free. Neblett worked with Sanders, who had the benefit of a functional Attitude Direction Indicator, and somehow managed to get the wings level again. He pulled back on the yoke, and slowly the plane came out of its speeding dive.

When he leveled off, the altimeter read 15,000 feet. The entire episode had lasted less than half a minute, during which the aircraft's maximum rate of descent reached 29,000 feet per minute.

And still no one knew exactly what had happened or why, which meant no one knew if it was going to happen again.

Hartkemeyer tried to come up on the intercom, but her cord had been ripped apart at the connector.

"When everything stopped," said Emrich, "I couldn't hear anyone in the back. I needed to know the condition of the airplane and personnel, and no one answered."

Miraculously, though, none of the injuries were life-threatening. Despite having taken a terrible beating, Hartkemeyer assumed control of her part of the plane.

Neblett and Sanders concentrated on flying the aircraft and getting pointed toward the nearest airport, which actually involved turning the plane around. Focused on the task at hand on the flight deck, Sanders told Emrich, "I do not want to know if there's no plane behind us."

Sanders radioed the authorities at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W. Va., to say that he had wounded aboard and would be making an emergency landing.

Later, Neblett would praise crew resource management - the right combination of good communication, situational awareness and sharing of the workload - for getting them all through the crisis. Landing checklists were lost somewhere in the wild snowdrifts of paper all over the floor of the cockpit, but procedures were nonetheless executed correctly.

A short time later, Neblett made an uneventful landing, taxied off the runway and shut down the aircraft.

"Once we hit the ground and cleared the aircraft you begin to come apart," said Emrich.

The day's work was far from over. In the aftermath of the mishap, various Navy and Marine Corps commands had to be contacted, the aircraft had to be secured for investigators, and the local and national media needed to be dealt with. Above all the crew and passengers - whose injuries included broken fingers and a variety of contusions and lacerations - needed medical care and lodging.

Neblett and the rest of the shaken survivors received a generous helping of West Virginia hospitality, particularly from airport officials and the local National Guard and Air National Guard.

It has been almost half a year since the incident, and today the same crew is flying the same KC-130T, which has been repaired and recertified, on test flights for VX-20. The mishap has become a learning opportunity, briefed to other aviators and maintainers, as well as a permanent piece of C-130 folklore. Neblett received his Air Medal in late August, for somehow writing a happy ending on a story that easily could have concluded with a memorial service.

"His aeronautical instinct, aggressiveness, and level head led to the remarkable recovery of a non-aerobatic aircraft from uncontrolled flight while sustaining absolutely minimum damage," his award citation reads. "Maj. Neblett's superb airmanship, decisive decision-making, perseverance, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VX-20 pilot, crew still on the job after beating odds - Wednesday, September 21, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/092105/37215-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

James Darcy

Sandy Hartkemeyer is pinned to the ceiling in the back of a KC-130T that is rolling through a death spiral toward the mountains of West Virginia. In the cockpit, co-pilot Dan Sanders is forcing himself to keep his hands off the controls while Maj. Nathan Neblett fights to level the aircraft, without benefit of any attitudinal references.

The other eight occupants of the aircraft are being slammed against bulkheads or bloodied by flying hardware, and are trying so hard to hold on to whatever they can grab that in some instances their fingers break.

No one knows why this is happening. No one can see that the 200-pound inflatable life rafts stored in the left wing have deployed in flight, and that one has snagged on the tail's horizontal stabilizer, becoming a massive, asymmetric drag chute. The only thing everyone is sure of, as the altitude winds away and the aircraft tumbles through its second violent inversion, is that this is unquestionably the last minute of their lives.

That was Apr. 12. And yet today, instead of grave markers they have plaques to commemorate their experience, each bearing an upside-down photo of a C-130. For Neblett there is an Air Medal too, pinned on him recently by Rear Adm. Jeff Wieringa, NAWCAD Commander. And now, with the mishap investigation concluded and some time to process it all, the survivors of what was arguably the most aerobatic flight ever made by a C-130 are sharing their stories.

The bare facts, as reported at the time of the incident over the Associated Press and CNN, were austere: "A Navy-operated KC-130T tanker aircraft landed safely at Tri-State Airport near Huntington, West Va., around noon today after declaring an in-flight emergency. The 11 people aboard sustained minor injuries. Three of the 11 were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

"The aircraft was being operated by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20), and was traveling from its home at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. The cause of the incident is under investigation."

That minimalist accounting hardly did justice to the scene investigators found inside the aircraft on the tarmac in West Virginia. Papers were strewn wildly across the flight deck, along with random items brought along in the crew's flight bags. An orange from someone's lunch sat on the deck plate bleeding juice, where a set of wheel chocks had squashed it flat. Anything not anchored in place had become a projectile in the whirling melee that ensued as the aircraft spent almost 9,000 feet of precious altitude in just 27 seconds.

In the back of the aircraft, makeshift wound dressings stained with blood lay side by side with dented cans of hydraulic fluid, tools, luggage, the lid from the cockpit garbage can, and hundreds of other pieces of gear. Nothing was where it should be; pieces of equipment were crammed into corners, lodged behind cargo webbing, hiding in the rafters.

A second set of wheel chocks, which had been stowed with the first pair under the stairs to the flight deck, hung from the ceiling "like a pair of sneakers hanging from a telephone wire," as Hartkemeyer later recalled.

It had been a well-ordered environment inside the plane, right up to the moment when the occupants' world was literally turned upside down.

That spring morning, Neblett was ferrying the crew and a group of maintainers to the desert environment of Twentynine Palms for a series of high-temperature tests on the new Electronic Propeller Control System being developed for the C-130T fleet.

No one on the test team ever anticipated that the EPCS would play a vital role in saving the aircraft that day.

Neblett and Sanders took off from Pax at about 11:30 a.m. Joining them on the flight deck were Wray Emrich, the flight engineer; Craig Homer, the navigator; and Ray Bacorn, a flight test engineer. Hartkemeyer, the loadmaster in the back, completed the crew.

They were an experienced group; all totaled, they had accumulated more than 34,000 hours of flight time over their careers. Neblett had been a test pilot with VX-20 for two and a half years, and had 1,200 hours at the controls of C-130s.

Five maintainers also rode in the back, along on the trip to care for the aircraft during its stay in California: Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate Bruce Wolfe, Terrence Kelly, James Coffman, Jeff Summers and Scott Fandrick.

A little more than an hour into the flight, the aircraft was cruising at 24,000 feet and everyone was settling in for the long haul - the equivalent of, "We've just reached our cruising altitude, feel free to move about the cabin," Neblett later said.

"I had just reclined my seat about three notches," said Sanders. He and Neblett were the only two who were still strapped in. In back, a couple people stretched out for naps on troops seats. Wolfe was tucked inside a sleeping bag.

At 12:43 p.m. local time, the rafts blew. Inside the left wing, there was a sudden malfunction of the mechanism that would deploy and inflate the 20-passenger life rafts if the crew ever needed them. Panels along the top trailing edge of the wing popped open, and the twelve-foot diameter rafts deployed.

Hartkemeyer, just starting on her crossword puzzle, felt a hard bump as one of the rafts slammed against the fuselage. That might have been the end of it, if the raft had not then impacted the left horizontal stabilizer on the tail. With 220 knots of cruising speed behind the collision, the raft "sawed through the aluminum until it hit a stainless steel duct," said Sanders. Snagging in the tear in the stabilizer's skin, the raft created a huge amount of drag and interfered with the elevator, which controls the aircraft's pitch.

All anyone in the aircraft knew, however, was that gravity had suddenly become an enemy.

"We immediately snap-rolled to the left," recalled Neblett. "All of a sudden we were upside down. Wray was bouncing off the ceiling."

In an instant the aircraft had rolled onto its back, pulling toward the earth as the G-forces began to build.

"Eleven seconds into it we were 45 degrees nose down, with 350 knots forward air speed," Neblett said, based on later data analysis. The maximum safe speed for the aircraft at that altitude is 315 knots. The airspeed indicator pegs out at 354 knots.

Looking outside the cockpit, Neblett and Sanders could see nothing but the featureless gray of the clouds around them. Neblett, who took command of the aircraft, looked to his Attitude Direction Indicator for the artificial horizon and some reference as to which way was up. But his ADI had failed.

In the rear of the aircraft, people became projectiles amid a chaos of violence and fear.

"Dan and I were strapped in," Neblett said, "but the guys in back had an 80-foot by 10-foot by nine-foot space in which to play pinball, with them as the pinballs."

Those who could find something to grab held on. Those who had nothing to hold, like Hartkemeyer, flew. "There was nothing more odd to me," she said, "than hearing my own scream."

"I remember looking down at the floor from the ceiling and thinking, 'This is gonna ... hurt,'" she recalled. It did.

Wolfe, wrapped in his sleeping bag when the emergency began, was likewise at the mercy of physics. "It must have felt like falling down the stairs in a straight jacket," Sanders later mused.

Flying through the tumbling steel tube with Wolfe and the others were countless potentially deadly missiles: cans of hydraulic fluid sailed past like cannonballs, and some found their targets.

"I still have indentations on my body," Hartkemeyer said more than three months later. Her bruises, Neblett said, had been exact copies of whatever had hit her.

Sanders likened the experience to the astronaut trainer jet that arcs through a negative-G maneuver to provide its passengers with a few moments of airy weightlessness.

"Imagine that happening back there," he said, "only imagine doing that in a hardware store."

Nobody knows exactly how many positive or negative Gs the aircraft and its inhabitants actually endured. The maximum positive reading recorded was 3.8 times the force of gravity - the F/A-18 Hornet flown by the Blue Angels maxes out at 7 - but the real number may well have been higher, Neblett said. By the time the aircraft landed, "the G-meter was severely jacked."

Next week: As more goes wrong, a new system proves itself and crew coordination is tested under extremes.

[Editor's note: This is the first installment of a two-part series]

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Chief test pilot to relieve commanding officer at VX-20 - Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/060105/35178-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

Brian Seraile

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20's Chief Test Pilot Steven Wright will relieve Commanding Officer Shane Gahagan, at a change of command June 10. The guest speaker will be Rear Adm. Jeffrey Wieringa, NAWCAD commander and NAVAIR assistant commander for research and engineering.

The ceremony will be held in Hangar 306 at 10 a.m. Gahagan has received orders to PMA-231.

Wright attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and graduated with distinction in May 1984 with a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering.

After commissioning, he attended flight training in Pensacola, Fla., and Corpus Christi, Texas, earning his wings in October 1985.

He attended P-3 Fleet Replacement Squadron training with Patrol Squadron 31 at Moffett Field, Calif., and remained there for his next assignment with the Blue Dragons of Patrol Squadron 50.

In the summer of 1989, Wright was selected to the Naval Postgraduate School - U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Cooperative Program. He attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., graduating with distinction in March 1991 with a master's degree in aeronautical engineering. He attended Test Pilot School here, graduating with Class 101 in June 1992 and reported to the Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate as a P-3 project officer. He was involved with P-3 avionics, ordnance and aircrew systems projects and was the primary project officer for the P-3C Counter Drug Upgrade program, detaching to Panama and other Central American nations.

Wright was selected as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer in the fall of 1994 and reported to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as the Senior Fixed Wing Instructor Pilot, where he instructed in the P-3C, T-38A, T-2C and NU-1B aircraft. He reported to the Naval Air Systems Command in December 1996, serving in the Propulsion Systems Engineering Division as the Engine Control Systems Team Leader for the F-18E/F Super Hornet flight test program. In December 1998, Wright returned to the Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron, where he served as the P-3 Platform Coordinator and Department Head.

Among other duties, Captain Wright lead a Flight Recovery team for the stricken EP-3 aircraft downed in Hainan Island, China, providing a flight recovery option for that damaged aircraft. In August 2001, Wright served in the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) as the Deputy Program Manager for Airframe Structural Integrity and Inventory Sustainment Programs. Wright reported for his current assignment as VX-20's chief test pilot in November 2003.

He has more than 3,100 hours in 65 models of jet, prop and rotary wing aircraft. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Chief test pilot to relieve commanding officer at VX-20 - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/051905/34944-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

VX-20's Chief Test Pilot Steven Wright will relieve Commanding Officer Shane Gahagan, at a change of command ceremony June 10.

The ceremony will be held in Hangar 306 at 10 a.m. Gahagan has not gotten orders for his next assignment.

Wright attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, graduating with distinction in May 1984. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Following commissioning, he attended flight training in Pensacola, Fla., and Corpus Christi, Texas, earning his wings in October 1985.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...E-6B receives RVSM certification - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - Tester..." WebSite: DC Military http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/042005/34483-1.shtml [05OCT2006]

On March 28, the E-6B Mercury became the first aircraft to receive U.S. Navy certification to operate in Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum airspace. Boeing is modifying the E-6B fleet with a Multi-function Display System flight deck that provides the required hardware and software to operate in RVSM airspace. The process of applying for certification required a joint effort between the PMA-271 (Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications), PMA-290 (Air Combat Electronics), VX-20 and the fleet. The certification will allow the E-6 to operate at higher altitudes resulting in greater fuel efficiency.

RVSM is a global program that allows for greater air traffic above 29,000 feet by decreasing vertical separation between aircraft from 2,000 to 1,000 feet. It was first implemented in the North Atlantic in 1997 and recently began over the continental U.S. and Canada on January 20. To fly in RVSM airspace, the aircraft and crew must meet specific FAA and International Civil Aviation Organization requirements.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Circa 2004

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Maintenance burden eased for Hercules - By James Darcy - Thursday, November 11, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/111104/32043-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 has successfully completed initial flight tests of an electronic propeller control system for the Navy and Marine Corps' 48 Lockheed C-130T Hercules transports and tankers. The EPCS upgrade will replace a device that is one of the most maintenance-intensive components on the entire airframe, reducing costs and increasing readiness for the C-130T fleet.

The new controllers have been developed under a cost-saving initiative by Hamilton Sundstrand, manufacturers of the Hercules' propellers, said flight test engineer Justin Garr, who is test team lead for the EPCS program. The Air National Guard, which also operates the C-130, contributed about two thirds of government funding for flight test, he added.

The new controller has been modified from similar devices on other, newer Hamilton Sundstrand propeller systems, but is still considered off-the-shelf, Garr said.

"The propellers on these aircraft are very complex pieces of machinery," he explained. In the C-130, engine speed and propeller speed stay constant throughout flight; the actual velocity of the aircraft is controlled by changing the pitch angle of the propeller blades.

When the pilot pushes the throttles forward, more fuel goes to the engines, causing it to want to turn faster. Instead, a hydromechanical system causes the pitch of the blades to increase, making them bite more air and absorbing the excess energy. This increases the speed of the aircraft, while engine speed stays constant, Garr said.

That hydromechanical system that makes it all work is a complicated device full of valves and ports that open and close, moving fluid throughout, in order to change the prop pitch. There are no electronic sensors or computer brains making it all work, just an intricate piece of machinery that responds to mechanical forces.

"The valve housing is the leading maintenance degrader for the aircraft," Garr said. "It's the leading reason a C-130 doesn't go flying."

The EPCS replaces the old system with a device that relies on an electronic speed sensor to command changes in propeller pitch. A new, simpler valve housing is wired into the EPCS box. "You're digitally mimicking the hydromechanical system," Garr said.

Because software algorithms drive the process, performance can also be tweaked to a greater degree than was previously possible.

The EPCS also handles the synchronization of propellers between the Hercules' four engines, a task currently managed by a separate device, the "solid state synchrophaser."

For the first phase of flight testing, the EPCS was installed on the number-three engine of a C-130T only, for risk mitigation purposes. Beginning Sept. 21, VX-20 put the system through almost 12 hours of flight testing.

"The speed governing was excellent," Garr said. One benefit of the software control is a reduction in "overshoots and undershoots." The old system didn't always respond to power increases or reductions as smoothly as desired, resulting in initial over-corrections to the prop pitch. The new software provides a smoother response, Garr said.

Flight tests have been rigorous, to ensure that the Fleet won't get any surprises. "We wrung [the aircraft] out a lot more than you normally would," he said.

"We asked, 'What if someone just slammed the power levers all the way forward?'" Garr said. Project test pilots told the engineers that no C-130 pilot would ever do that, since they are trained to increase power gradually.

"We did it anyway," he said.

The test aircraft is now having EPCS units installed on the remaining three engines in preparation for the next phase of testing, which will focus on the propeller synchronization function. Ground tests are slated to begin in December, and test flights in January. A team from Naval Air Depot Cherry Point, N.C., is handling the integration work.

Cost savings for the program will be realized over the life of the aircraft fleet. "We expect to lose far fewer flights" Garr said, "with much better availability and less time in maintenance. We also won't be needing as many spare parts."

At present, the Navy and Marine Corps operate four basic models of the Hercules for aerial refueling and transport: the F, R, T and J. The new J model, which already incorporates an electronic propeller control system, will eventually replace all F and R models.

But the T models, which were manufactured in the 1980s and 90s, will stay in inventory long enough to make the EPCS program cost-effective, Garr said. VX-20 has also been involved in testing new defensive countermeasure systems - chaff and flare - for the T models.

"These are tactical aircraft," Garr said. "A lot of people forget that, because they're so big. But these are very robust airplanes."

The Lockheed YC-130 prototype made its first flight in 1954. In the four intervening decades, it has become one of the world's most ubiquitous military transports, with variants flying in a variety of roles for dozens of nations.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...S-3B testing concludes - Wednesday, September 22, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/092204/31268-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

Carrier suitability tests for an upgrade to the S-3B Viking concluded on Sept. 1 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, and the last remaining Patuxent River-based S-3B aircraft was transferred to the fleet. This achievement gives this platform an enhanced capability to better meet fleet needs until the retirement of the aircraft in coming years.

The S-3B Viking is an all-weather, carrier-based jet aircraft, providing protection against hostile surface combatants while also functioning as the Carrier Battle Groups' primary overhead/mission tanker. Extremely versatile, the aircraft is equipped for many missions, including day/night surveillance, electronic countermeasures, command/control/communications warfare, and search-and-rescue.

Cmdr. Alan Micklewright of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 and Lt. Jamie Chitko of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 flew S-3B for the first day of the event that consisted of catapult testing, and Lt. Cmdr. Scott Josselyn of VX-20, joined Micklewright for the second day's carrier landing tests in support of the Mass Memory Unit project.

MMU is a digital mission playback system, called the AN/ASH-42 Digital Data Set, that revolutionizes the way S-3B Viking aircrew handle mission data. The system replaces the S-3B digital memory unit and transportable cartridge as well as the USH-42 Mission Recorder/Reproducer Set. In the new system, a 14-gigabyte hard drive, called the removable memory module, will replace both the 8mm recorder tapes and the large transportable cartridge that contained the mission program and preflight data.

With an accompanying ground station, Viking aircrew will be able to program all preflight data such as electronic emitter parameters, navigation references, and LINK-11, in the comfort of their own ready room on a laptop computer integrated with the Navy Portable Flight Planning System, called N-PFPS. Additionally, all post-flight analysis, including review of in-flight recorded video and audio will be possible at the same laptop ground station.

Interoperability with the Carrier Tactical Support Centers ashore or afloat will no longer be required as aircrew aboard the S-3B assume these capabilities. Completion of this modification in all S-3B aircraft is planned to take place during FY05.

The aircraft used for the testing was subsequently transferred to the VS-24 "Scouts" on Sept. 13, from VX-1. Chitko and Lt. Cmdr. Mark Andreas, VX-1's training officer, flew Pax River's last remaining S-3B to Jacksonville, Fla., for the transfer.

(Submitted by PMA-290 Public Affairs)

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...KC-130J completes defense system testing at VX-20 - By Brian Serailey - Thursday, September 9, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/090904/30979-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

After three years of testing here at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, a Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules is about to join the Fleet Marine Force Pacific.

The Marines' new Lockheed Martin mid-air and ground refueling tanker left yesterday at 11 a.m. after completing countermeasure defense systems testing at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20. The squadron will soon receive another "J" model Hercules to complete tests on its air refueling system, checking out the aircraft's new Sargent Fletcher Phase II refueling pods.

The final tests on the plane were conducted on the aircraft's countermeasure defense systems used to protect against radar-guided missiles and infrared threats.

"It's an operational bird now," said Les Taylor, who served on the VX-20 test team. Testing involved equipment that the Navy does not normally use.

"Everything that supports it is Air Force support equipment, so we've had to go through all the wickets to get the Air Force's support equipment integrated into the Navy system to actually start using it," Taylor said.

The KC-130J now belongs to the "Raiders" of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 at MCAS Miramar, Calif.

"It's a big thing because this is California's first 'J' model," said Todd Humiston, the aircraft's crew chief. "They've been flying 'F' and 'R' models." Humiston, a contractor with AES, works for VX-20.

The plane will now be able to conduct missions in the desert and defend itself effectively, said VX-20 Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Donald Staren-Doby. "Now they're going to start doing testing on the J model for air-to-air refueling so that it can perform every aspect that it was intended to do," he said.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Venlet to replace Godwin at Pax as Skinner takes over NAWCWD - By Bill Swanson - Thursday, September 9, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/090904/30981-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

Rear Adm. David Venlet, who for the past 20 months was commander of NAWCWD at China Lake and Point Mugu, Calif., is coming to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, where he will take over as program executive officer of NAVAIR's Program Executive Office for Tactical Aircraft (PEO(T)) from Rear Adm. James B. Godwin III, who is being assigned as director of the Navy and Marine Corps Intranet, Arlington, Va.

On Monday, Venlet was relieved of command of NAWCWD in a change-of-command ceremony at China Lake by Capt. Mark Skinner, a rear admiral selectee. Venlet is a veteran F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet pilot, graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School here, and was the first Navy pilot to land a T-45 Goshawk aboard an aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), in 1991.

In 1981, before becoming a pilot, Venlet was a radar intercept officer aboard one of two F-14s involved in what has become known as the Gulf of Sidra Incident. The two F-14s were deployed aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and were on a combat air patrol covering a nearby missile exercise when they were engaged and fired upon by two Libyan Su-22 aircraft. The F-14s evaded the missile and were cleared to return fire, subsequently shooting down the two Su-22s with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, the first combat kills for the F-14 aircraft. Venlet received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his role in the incident.

Godwin will be relieved by Venlet in a change-of-command ceremony in Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23's Hangar 201 at 2 p.m. on Sept. 17. For Godwin it will mark the end of a 12-year tour in various assignments at Pax River, as well as an end to 30 years in Naval aviation, which includes 34 combat missions flown during Operation Desert Storm. As the new head of the NMCI program, PEO(IT), Godwin will continue to implement the $8.8 billion NMCI contract, one of the most transformational contracting initiatives ever undertaken by the Navy, designed to deliver a single integrated and coherent department-wide computer network for the Navy and Marine Corps shore commands.

Venlet was born in Pottstown, Pa., and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1976. Fleet tours include VF-41 as a Tomcat RIO deployed with USS Nimitz. Redesignated a Naval aviator, he served with VF-143 as an F-14 Tomcat pilot deployed with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and in Fleet Replacement Squadron VF-101 at NAS Oceana, Va..

Designated an aerospace engineering duty officer in 1988, he is a graduate of TPS and holds a master of science in aerospace engineering. Venlet served as a test pilot at NATC Patuxent River.

NAVAIR tours include the F/A-18 program in various capacities including class desk officer and deputy program manager. He served as executive assistant to the commander, NAVAIR, and then served as program manager for Air to Air Missiles (PMA-259) involving AIM-9X development.

Venlet assumed command of NAVAIR Weapons Division in January 2003 with responsibility for Navy weapons and systems RDT&E and fleet support capabilities at China Lake and Point Mugu. He is also the NAVAIR assistant commander for test and evaluation across NAVAIR national test and range capabilities. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and has flown 28 different types of aircraft, accumulated over 3,100 flight hours and 560 carrier landings.

Godwin, a native of San Antonio, Texas, graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1973. He was directly commissioned as an ensign into the Navy and subsequently received his Naval aviator wings in July 1975.

Godwin's initial tours include numerous fleet assignments with VA-147, VA-122 and Air Wing 9 flying the A-7 Corsair II and VFA-125 and VFA-25 flying the F/A-18 Hornet. From March 1991 until June 1992 he served as a commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 192 while embarked in USS Midway (CV-41) and USS Independence (CV-62). As a combat veteran during his command tour, Godwin amassed 34 Desert Storm missions.

After detaching from VFA-192, he reported to NAVAIR where he began his career in Navy acquisition. This career path, as the lead systems engineer, deputy program manager and ultimately the F/A-18 program manager, led to the position he holds today as the program executive officer for PEO(T), which includes all tactical aircraft and weapons systems on the Navy's aircraft carriers. In addition Godwin co-leads the NAVAIR Warfighter Focus Group, which is actively engaged in balancing near-term and future readiness of the aviation fleet.

As PEO(T), Godwin manages a network of aviation technology experts and program managers which include the early operational fielding of the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared system, the Multifunctional Information Distribution System and the Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP) for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; The Improved Capability III Airborne Electronic Attack system for the EA-6B Prowler community revolutionizing electronic attack; and the latest version of the Sidewinder missile, the AIM-9X. Systems currently under development include the new Active Electronically Scanned Array radar for the Super Hornet, an Electronically Scanned Radar for the E-2 Advanced Hawkeye and the Navy's replacement for the Prowler, the EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Godwin's awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Strike/Flight Air medal (three awards), Individual Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (three awards including one Combat "V"), Navy Achievement Medal, Expert Pistol medal, and several unit awards and citations.

A Houston, Texas native, Skinner graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1977, earning a bachelor of science degree in naval architecture. After commissioning, he commenced flight training and was designated a Naval aviator in 1979.

Skinner reported to Patrol Squadron 23 at NAS Brunswick, Maine, and completed three North Atlantic/Mediterranean deployments, qualifying as P-3C Update II Patrol Plane commander, mission commander, and instructor pilot.

In October 1982 Skinner reported aboard Patrol Squadron 31, NAS Moffett Field, Calif., as an FRS instructor pilot. He detached in February 1984 for jet transition training en route to TPS at Pax River, graduating in June 1985. He reported to Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate (now Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20) where he served as test pilot, project officer, and P-3 pilot NATOPS officer. Skinner was selected as Directorate Test Pilot of the Year in 1986.

In June 1987, Skinner reported to USS Ranger (CV 61) as communications officer, where he completed two Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployments. He detached in December 1989 and reported to Patrol Squadron 6, home-based at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. He served as safety/NATOPS officer, assistant maintenance officer, and maintenance officer in VP-6 and deployed to NAS Adak, Alaska.

In May 1991, Skinner joined the staff of Patrol Wing 2, serving as current operations officer. In January 1992, he commenced Naval Postgraduate School studies, graduating as a Conrad scholar in June 1993. He was awarded the Department of the Navy award for excellence in financial management and the Rear Adm. Thomas R. McClellan award for excellence in administrative sciences.

In September 1993, he became Patrol Squadron 47's executive officer and took command in September 1994, completing the first successful CPWP quad-site deployment to Diego Garcia, and to operational sites in the North Arabian and Red Seas. He detached in August 1995 and reported to CTF 72/57 as operations officer, directing VP forces participating in Operations Vigilant Sentinel and Southern Watch, and PRC-Taiwan contingency operations.

After graduating from the Defense Systems Management College Program Manager Course, he reported to Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron (now VX-20) at Pax as chief test pilot in November 1996, becoming its commanding officer in March 1998. In December 1998, he was screened and selected as program manager for a Chief of Naval Operations Special Project. In February 2002, Skinner was selected as the acting deputy program executive officer for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs.

Skinner's awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy Achievement Medal, and other unit deployment citations and ribbons.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Norway briefed on MMA - By Jim Jenkins - Thursday, August 19, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/081904/30665-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

Representatives from the Royal Norwegian Air Force, led by Lt. Gen. Svein Ivar Hansen, visited NAS Patuxent River, Maryland Aug. 11 for a brief of the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft and walk-arounds of the V-22 and a Royal Norwegian Air Force P-3C conducting testing at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20.

Hansen, Royal Norwegian Air Force Chief of Defense Staff, visited at the request of the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace. Hansen is Pace's counterpart in the RNAF.

Hansen and his staff spent last week visiting various military bases and headquarters around the United States. Before NAVAIR hosted the visit to Pax, the Norwegians visited the United States Central Command headquarters at McDill Air Force Base, Fla., the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region headquarters at Tyndall AFB, Fla., U.S. Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb., and the Joint Forces Command and Joint War Fighting Center in Norfolk, Va., as well as attending a few formal dinners at various other locations before heading back to Norway.

"They were very impressed with the facilities here at Pax as well as the diverse activities we undertake in support of the men and women in the Naval, and other, services," said Rear Adm. Timothy Heely, Program Executive Officer for Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation (PEO(W)). "[Hansen] remarked on the dedication and determination he saw in all with whom he came in contact - and the obvious love we all have doing what we do."

The Norwegians' main reason for coming to Pax was their interest in the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft.

Capt. Steve Eastburg, Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program manager (PMA-290), provided the overview briefing on the MMA program and said the briefing was very well received by Hansen.

On June 14 the Navy awarded a Boeing-led industry team a $3.89 billion contract to build the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft, which will be modified Boeing 737 series aircraft meeting the requirements of the Navy. The total program acquisition value is estimated at about $20 billion for 108 aircraft, according to Boeing.

The MMA program is now in the System Development and Demonstration phase and is focusing on developing a system that will significantly transform how the Navy's maritime patrol and reconnaissance force will man, train, operate and deploy. Ultimately, the MMA will replace the Navy's aging fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft, securing the Navy's future in long-range maritime patrol. During the briefing Hansen and Eastburg specifically noted the more than 30 years of U.S. Navy and Norwegian defense cooperation with the respective P-3 forces and both said they looked forward to similar close ties in the future with MMA.

"We were very pleased to have the opportunity to share with General Hansen and his party an overview of the MMA Program," Eastburg said. "The visit afforded us a chance to provide details of the programmatic and technical approaches we've crafted to deliver a world-class next generation weapons system to the warfighter."

After the MMA briefing, Hansen received a tour of the Royal Norwegian Air Force P-3C currently in post-modification testing at VX-20. The aircraft is the fourth of six Royal Norwegian Air Force P-3s undergoing flight avionics upgrades at NAWC Patuxent River under a PMA-290 Foreign Military Sales case.

Hansen and his staff also didn't pass up the opportunity to tour the V-22 Osprey while here. They received an overview of the aircraft program status and acquisition plan as well as an up-close tour of one of the Ospreys from Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Gross, MV-22 government flight test director, and Ken Moritz, V-22 Joint Program Office Business Development director.

Hansen questioned Gross about the V-22's airspeed during the latest air-to-air refueling tests, to which Gross replied, "all refueling plugs were at 200 knots; any helicopter can do that, right?"

When comparing unit cost and increased capability of the tiltrotor V-22 versus new medium-lift helicopter capabilities and cost the general's staff acknowledged the flexibility that V-22 provided to the combatant commander.

"I am happy to see the aircraft flying again," Hansen said.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...NAVAIR radar tests help NASA safeguard against tragedy - By James Darcy - Wednesday, July 28, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/072804/30342-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

In the year and a half since the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentry into Earth's atmosphere, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration has turned to experts around the country to find a safe pathway back into space for the shuttle program. But they have found the answer to one of their most critical questions at Pax River, where the Columbia tragedy still reverberates for many on a very personal level.

The crew of the STS-107 mission died on February 1, 2003, but the fatal blow was struck almost two weeks earlier, by of all things a piece of foam. Dislodged from an external fuel tank less than two minutes after lift-off, the two-pound chunk of foam insulation impacted the leading edge of the left wing, breaching the heat shielding and setting the stage for a catastrophic failure during the intense temperatures of reentry.

Among the seven astronauts killed were Cmdr. Willie McCool and Capt. David Brown, both Pax River alumni. Now some of their former peers are working to ensure that future shuttle crews are protected from a similar fate.

Marty Stuble is an electrical engineer for the NAVAIR Ranges Aircraft Signature and Avionics Measurement Branch. For Stuble, who remembers McCool's work here as an EA-6B test pilot in the early 90s, his responsibility for the shuttle began last November.

Following the recommendation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, NASA was tackling the problem of debris shed by the shuttle during its ascent. Stuble and fellow engineer Mike Hardman were asked to sit on a working group of radar experts from outside NASA, to investigate whether radar could be used to identify falling objects, detect any impacts to the orbiter, and determine the seriousness of those impacts.

"A lot of debris comes off the shuttle during its ascent, both intentionally and unintentionally," Stuble explained, including ice, slag from the engines, insulation blankets and other smaller, seemingly innocuous items. In an effort to get a detailed picture of any impacts during launch or ascent, NASA first installed telescopic cameras around the launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Many times more powerful even than the theodolite cameras used to track aircraft in the test range here, the cameras were intended to provide a visual record of any strikes.

Such a system, however, is limited to daytime use in clear conditions, Stuble said, significantly reducing the available launch windows. "To increase their launch opportunities, they had to find another system to tell them what's going on during the ascent. ... The question was, can we use radar to determine if anything catastrophic has happened during a launch?"

In order to accomplish that feat, a system would have to track even very small objects as they shook loose from the enormous shuttle assembly, then somehow identify what the debris was based on its radar signature.

Stuble and Hardman found themselves working with some of the heaviest hitters in the complex field of radar science.

"And then there's little old me and Mike," Stuble said. "But we provided the real-world expertise, because we do dynamic radar tracking and signature measurements here every day."

As one NASA engineer told Stuble, "We're rocket scientists, not radar experts."

"We're designated the lead DoD facility for dynamic radar cross-section measurements," said Bill Darden, head of the EW and RCS Branch. In simple terms, his team is tasked with determining what allied aircraft and their various defensive countermeasures look like to enemy radars while in the air. It's a question that has life or death consequences for fleet aviators and all joint-service warfighters, which is why NAVAIR performs RCS tests on aircraft ranging from the V-22 Osprey to the Air Force's venerable A-10 "Warthog." The branch is also preparing for the tests they will perform on the Joint Strike Fighter, Stuble said.

The RCS issue is so critical to survival in battle that a sample of every new production lot of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets is flown here for RCS measurements, to ensure compliance with specifications.

"The Super Hornet is the Navy's first low-observable aircraft," Stuble said.

Nonetheless, the Super Hornet is a much different sort of challenge than a paint chip, or a strip of adhesive tape, or a lump of ice ? just a few of the 24 items that NASA had identified as high-priority potential debris.

Hardman and Stuble had several questions they hoped to answer with open-air testing here: They wanted to know if NASA could use radar not only to tell controllers whether something had come off during a launch, but to determine what the item was, based on its RCS and radar signature. That accomplished, they wanted to prove whether the radar could "see" if the object had struck the orbiter, and if so, whether any damage had been done by the strike.

NASA had begun their investigations by taking static radar "snapshots" of debris at an indoor facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. But the data was incomplete without the dynamic component; each item would have different tumbling characteristics as it fell away from the shuttle, and the only way to reproduce those was to get in the air and start dropping stuff.

Hardman and Stuble turned the problem over to Eric Nardo and Betty Graham in the Electronic Warfare and Electronic Surveillance branch of NAWCAD's Test and Evaluation Engineering Department, known to most testers here simply as "four-eleven" for its competency code. The department is home to the project engineers, who work a little like Hollywood producers, developing a test plan and sweating all the details and dollars to make it all come together.

"Whenever a test has to be done at the range, [Stuble] will come to this group and say this is what I want to do," Graham explained. "This group has to coordinate everything."

She and Nardo wrote a test plan, and on June 17 a KC-130F from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 took off with the 24 debris samples stored in back. They included pieces of foam, insulating blankets, a 3-inch square paint chip, a piece of heat shield, a 35-pound bolt, and "bag of commercial ice, like you'd buy at 7-11 for your family picnic," Nardo said.

Money was a concern.

"NASA gave us a really strict budget to work with," Graham said. "The first thing we did was negotiate the cost of the plane. We told VX-20, 'This is a huge deal for the astronauts, so what do you think you can do?'"

The squadron worked hard to find a way to finance the flight and still stay in budget, Graham said, allowing the test to go forward.

Over the course of a four-hour flight, the items were released from the KC-130 at an altitude of 7,000 feet. The load master had explicit instructions on how each item should be released from the side door, to ensure accurate measurements and also the safety of the aircraft.

"There was a lot of coordination on this test," Nardo said. Experts from across NAVAIR had been consulted, in areas such as range safety, flight planning, and even stores separation. The debris items all had to be inspected and approved by the station's Conservation Division.

And the results of the test?

While the final hard-copy report has yet to be handed over, Stuble and Hardman were able to confirm for NASA that the right radar system could indeed be the guardian angel they were seeking for future shuttle launches. If something comes off, radar should be able to see it, say what it is and know whether it poses a threat to the mission. The results were quickly briefed up to NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

Because the radars in place for range safety at Kennedy Space Center were not sophisticated enough to perform the fine identification task, Hardman scoured the country on NASA's behalf to find a system that would do the job.

He discovered that the Navy owned a ship with the right kind of radar, using it primarily for Trident missile testing. And he learned something else: the ship was docked and operated out of Cape Canaveral.

"So me and Mike go down to NASA and take them by the hand, and walk them across the street and show them their radar," Stuble said with a grin.

Preparations are also being made to transfer custody of an available Navy radar from a former range facility in Puerto Rico for permanent installation at Kennedy Space Center, Stuble said. "We expect the radars to be up and running for the next shuttle launch."

A lot of eyes will be on that launch. At Pax River, viewers will be remembering lost friends. The point is not lost on Stuble.

"The last time I saw Willy McCool, we were using this same equipment while he was flying an EA-6B in the range here," he said. "And now we're using it to try to measure what may have killed him."

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Memo to self: stay away from the Arabian Gulf - By Bill Swanson - Wednesday, June 16, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/061604/29628-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

I have a confession to make: I have apparently given aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein and his nasty Baathist regime. I'm also apparently in violation of U.S. State Department protocol. And not only that - and I don't mean to sound like I'm passing the buck here - so are recently retired Navy Capt. Mike Rabens and the Public Affairs Office at Point Mugu, who made me do it. Boy, are you guys in deep doo-doo.

Before anyone calls the JAG office and gets Adm. Chegwidden all over my six (I want Farsi-speaking Maj. Sarah McKenzie defending me), let me explain. Several weeks ago, I wrote a story about the retirement and change-of-command ceremony of Capt. Mike Rabens, the departing commander of Naval Test Wing Pacific who spent a good deal of his career at Pax River and who still has many friends and admirers here. Faithful readers of the Tester will have noticed by now that we use a kind of standard format for change-of-command stories, the core of which is a recitation of the officers' careers, and we especially highlight their activities while they were at Pax River. Journalists call that "localizing the story," and there's nothing controversial about it.

In writing the Rabens story, I called the PAO office at Point Mugu and asked them to send me a copy of Rabens' biography, which they promptly did. I actually don't know if Rabens wrote the biography himself, or if someone in PAO put it together for him or with him, and it's irrelevant.

The point is, the bio said that Rabens was the air wing strike leader of VF-213 on USS Abraham Lincoln, which deployed to South America and then to the Arabian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. So that's what I wrote, and thought no more about it.

I have to confess right now, when the term "Arabian Gulf" popped up in Rabens' bio, I never batted an eye. No alarm bells went off, and I blithely accepted it and passed it on, and eventually it found its way to the Internet (more about that later). There's a good reason "Arabian Gulf" never caught my attention: I've seen the term hundreds of times in all sorts of contexts, as all of you have.

AP wire stories report Navy activities in the Arabian Gulf, and I could cite you a dozen of them. Sea Power magazine has articles about the Arabian Gulf. Government Computer News refers to the Arabian Gulf. There's an Arabian Gulf University in Bahrain (I don't even want to think about what Rush Week must be like there), and if you "Google" Arabian Gulf you only get about 117,000 hits. Even the Navy News Stand uses it; check out http://www.news.navy.mil/view_photos.asp and http://www.news.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=14665.

I must have read a dozen biographies of officers on this station that refer to the Arabian Gulf; the biography of Capt. Steve Rorke, who moved from VX-23 to PEO(T) and whose change-of-command story appeared in last week's issue, says he had a deployment in the Arabian Gulf.

Then the e-mails hit. Bam. Bam. Bam.

E-mail number one: "I read with interest your recent story by Mr. Bill Swanson about Captain Mike Rabens' retirement from a distinguished 25-year Navy career posted on http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/9_21/local_news/29238-1.html However, I was disillusioned by the wrong reference made in the 8th paragraph to the location of USS Abraham Lincoln during Operation Desert Storm.

All research indicates that the ship took up station in the Persian Gulf in support of allied and U.S. troops in the region during this time frame."

When I read that, several thought flashed through my mind simultaneously, as follows: "Oh, crap, I got the wrong ocean" (I know it's not an ocean; don't quibble with me; it's a figure of speech): "No, it wasn't me who got the wrong ocean; it was Rabens and I just repeated it"; "No, how could a guy like Rabens not know where the hell he was during a war?

The PAO people must have screwed it up"; "Wait a minute, dummy - the Arabian Gulf and the Persian Gulf are the same place" (I'm not as quick as I used to be).

"As a member of the media community, I'm certain you're aware that use of historically accurate and established terms to describe world locations is an integral part of exercising fair and unbiased journalism," the e-mail said. "Therefore, I'd assume optimistically that your improper reference to that body of water was merely an inadvertent oversight which will be corrected."

That was signed by Daniel M. Pourkesali, an engineer and CAD manager for a company in Purcellville, Va., and who also described himself as a member of the "Persian Gulf Task Force" with two Web addresses, http://www.persiangulfonline.org and http://www.iranalliance.org

The next thoughts that flashed through my mind were, "Why are computer-aided drafting cyberheads in Virginia bothering to read online versions of Tester/Pax River change-of-command stories?" and finally, "What does Arabian Gulf versus Persian Gulf have to do with 'fair and unbiased journalism'?"

E-mail number two hit: "I am writing to express my concern regarding a recent online article entitled [sic], 'Rabens retires as NTWP commander.' I was very disappointed to see that the 'Persian Gulf' was erroneously referred to as the 'Arabian Gulf.' I do not know where to begin to express my sheer outrage and disappointment in this. As a respected news agency [sic], how was this mistake allowed to take place?"

Sheer outrage?

"... There are many corrupt Arab leaders who insist on calling the Persian Gulf, 'The Gulf,' or worse yet, the 'Arabian Gulf.' This is not for cultural or historic reasons, but rather for their own selfish purposes to express their power to foreign investors, and to try to take advantage of Iran's current unfortunate political situation. If respected news agencies such as yours allow these corrupt Arab leaders to systematically attack the respect and cultural integrity of the Persians, it will destroy a piece of history forever.

"... I urge you and your fine, respected agency to take back this damage ..."


" ... and refer to this body of water as the 'Persian Gulf' in your future articles. It is not too late to reverse this terrible damage."

Terrible damage?

It was signed by "Masoud Naseri, Teaching Assistant & Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee," who thoughtfully provided me with six or eight more paragraphs explaining the history, culture and language of the Persian people. I remembered some of it from 7th grade social studies class. About 490 B.C. Pericles and Themistocles kicked the Persians' butts at Salamis and Marathon. Then about 330 B.C. Alexander the Great kicked their butts some more. Then about a thousand years later one of them wrote The Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam. Then 500 or a thousand years after that, they captured 54 members of the American Embassy in Teheran, and held them for 444 days and threatened to kill them. Persians make comfortable slippers and pretty felines and rugs. Sure, there may be gaps in my knowledge, but do you think that zany Ayatollah Khomeini could recite Casey at the Bat or knew Richie Ashburn's lifetime batting average (.308)? I don't think so either.

Naseri's e-mail arrived on May 27th, the very same day the Tester came out. I didn't know the Tester's crackerjack circulation department sent copies of our paper by overnight express to anthropology departments in the Midwest, but hey, way to go, guys. The Wisconsin Cheeseheads probably dig our "Head-to-Head-to-Head" football columns out there; I know my colleague Kid Vegas gets a lot of fan mail from Fertile Crescent anthropologist groupies.

Then the real flamer hit. It came from "Amir Naghshineh-Pour, Public Relations director, Persian Gulf Task Force: Dedicated to preserve the history and ecology of the Persian Gulf http://www.persiangulfonline.org/ San Diego, CA, USA," who wrote in part:

"The historic and correct name of the body of water to the south of Iran and north of Arabia is internationally referred to as the 'Persian Gulf.'

"The idea of using 'Arabian Gulf' instead of 'Persian Gulf' was promoted by nationalist resist [sic] Arab dictators and then followed by the Bathist [sic; we usually spell it Baathist, but we'll let that go] regime of Saddam Hussein. Please, be advised that using that bogus name merely assists the Bathist type ideas of Saddam Hussein remain [sic].

"In addition, not only you are in violation of international norms and standards, but you are also in violation of the U.S. government's acceptable geographical nomenclature."

I'm in violation? Little moi? Hey, if I'm going down, I'm taking the whole United States Navy with me.

"Furthermore, the following is my communication with the NGA regarding this name abuse."

Oh yeah. Name abuse. Amir narked on me. Big time. Turned me in to the NGA, which - I only just learned this - is the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

(Memo to Rabens: "Run, Mike, run! It's too late for me, I'm not gonna make it, but you can save yourself! Run! Run!")

Here is Amir's e-mail to them:

"Dear correspondent @ the National Geospacial[sic]-Intelligence Agency,

"Due to the recent incorrect reference to the name of the body of water bound to the south by Iran and to the north by Arabia as 'Arabian Gulf' by www.dcmilitary.com and the U.S. Navy we at the Persian Gulf Task [sic] inquired about the organization that is in charge of the nomenclature of geographical regions of the world for the U.S. Military and Navy. [Note: most maps put Iran on the north shore, and Saudi Arabia on the south. But maybe like the Australians "down under" the Iranians might read their maps upside down; after all, they write from right to left.]

"Ms. Corey Schultz, the deputy public affairs officer of the National Naval Medical Center [?????], took the case and after some investigation she referred us to you. Please see the following e-mails. Please be kind enough and let us know your policy of calling that body of water. Please be advised that it is U.S. government's official stance to use the correct and historic name 'Persian Gulf' for that body of water as it is indicated on the U.S. Department of State's Web site."

And they replied to him:


"Yes, 'Persian Gulf' is the correct name for that body of water according to both NGA and the State Department. There was a short span of time when CENTCOM asked for a parenthetical ('Arabian Gulf') underneath 'Persian Gulf.' This applied only to products made directly for CENTCOM during a certain period of time. That time has passed and PERSIAN GULF with nothing in parentheses is the only correct name for that body of water."

It was signed by Joan Mears, Office of Corporate Relations, Public Affairs, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

I browsed the Persian Gulf Task Force's Web site, and then the Web site of the Iran Alliance, and discovered that the two Web sites are so similar in format and construction they were obviously built by the same person or team: same graphics, same box sizes, same links, same format, only different color schemes and a few other minor differences.

One of its menu items was a topic called "Abusers," which turned out to be a listing of all the bad guys in the world - beside Rabens and me - who insist on using "Arabian Gulf": the oil company Aramco, the British Broadcasting System (the famous "BBC"), British Airways, the British branch of book publisher Harper-Collins, Hyatt Hotels, Olympic Airlines, and Reuters News service, among a few other miscreants.

And there on the "Who we are" pages of both Web sites I found something else interesting: identical boards of directors and nearly identical staff people. The Persian Gulf Task Force and the Iran Alliance are one-and-the-same (how's that for having two names for one entity?).

And not only that, there on the Persian Gulf Task Force page (http://www.persiangulfonline.org/aboutus/whoweare.htm) were the names of its "Public Relations Members," Amir Naghshineh-Pour and Masoud Naseri, and its "Research and Publication Member," Daniel Pourkesali. All three guys who e-mailed the complaints apparently did volunteer work for the same outfit[s].

So I called Pourkesali over in Virginia, and asked him how he happened to be reading a change-of-command story in the online version of the Tester. Turns out he didn't; none of them did, not at first. In their spare time, they use Internet search engines to troll for the phrase "Arabian Gulf," and when they find them they fire off letters and e-mails to the offenders.

Pourkesali told me that the phrase "Arabian Gulf" was coined by the late Egyptian President Abdul Gamal Nasser in the early 1960s, as part of Nasser's effort to promote Arab nationalism. Since then the term spread, and there's several Web sites out there that claim that most Arab countries commonly use Arabian Gulf, while most Western countries use Persian Gulf, the name it has had for several thousand years, even back when Themistocles and Alexander were doing all that Persian butt-kicking. They're darned lucky it isn't called the Gulf of Themistocles.

I have about as much interest in deciding which name is "right" as I have in deciding whether Certs is a breath mint or a candy mint. And I guess both the Navy and I will go on being name abusers. I wonder if there's a 12-step program for that sort of thing ("Hello, my name is Bill. I haven't referred to Constantinople in two years ...").

Of course, there are still Saddam Hussein and his Baathist Party insurgents, who relished using "Arabian Gulf" as a way to stick it to the Iranians. I had a dream about Saddam the other night. There he was, crouched in his spider hole and combing the lice from his beard while he idly browsed through a back issue of The Tester to catch up on the comings and goings at VX-1, VX-20, and the PMAs around the station, and when he'd spot a reference to a new commanding officer who had served in the "Arabian Gulf," he'd chortle appreciatively, muttering, "Gotcha, you Iranian *&^%$#@&%$#s."

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...TPS, Strike 'alum' Bresnik to join NASA astronauts - By Bill Swanson - Wednesday, June 2, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/060204/29362-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

Marine Corps Maj. Randy Bresnik, an F/A-18 test pilot, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School here and an "alumnus" of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23, was recently named as one of NASA's eleven selections to form the space agency's Class of 2004 astronaut group.

Bresnik, 36, is currently stationed at MCAS Miramar, Calif., and joins a long list of astronauts - 90 of them, including Bresnik, to be exact - who came through Pax River at one time in their pre-NASA careers. Of that group, 81 graduated from TPS, among them 16 of Bresnik's fellow Marines, the first and foremost being retired Col. and former Sen. John Glenn, the 1954 TPS grad who became the first American to orbit the earth, as well as the oldest person to fly in the space shuttle when he was 70 years old.

Bresnik, who graduated with TPS Class 116 in 1999, then served a tour at what is now VX-23, becoming the 39th astronaut to do so (five astronauts served at now VX-20). Bresnik then returned to TPS for a tour as a flight instructor, as did 10 previous astronauts.

Bresnik was born in Fort Knox, Ken., but his family moved to Southern California when he was just two weeks old. Bresnik graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1985, and then attended The Citadel, earning a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He later earned a master's degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2002.

"I had a number of people in my life - great teachers - who were pretty influential," Bresnik said in a NASA interview. "I remember a 6th grade teacher, a guidance counselor in junior high, a music teacher in college, all of whom went above and beyond. I've been thinking about them. Would they believe it for a moment that I've been selected to train as an astronaut?"

One of those influential people was his father, once a military pilot during the Vietnam War. Together, father and son used to build model aircraft, including a model of the second-generation Gemini spacecraft with a spacewalker attached by a tether.

Prior to becoming an operations officer with his squadron at Miramar, Bresnik flew combat missions during the start of the war in Iraq.

"We were there from before Day One until the president declared an official end to hostilities," Bresnik said.

He has now accumulated nearly 3,000 hours flight time, and will shortly begin astronaut training at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Bresnik recently got married - at a castle in Scotland, and to a woman he met while she was working as a lawyer in the Pentagon.

"She's an extraordinary woman. She stuck with me when I got deployed for the war," he said. "We got engaged last July on a boat in the middle of a lake in Idaho."

"What I hope to accomplish is to contribute to the NASA team," Bresnik said. "What more exciting thing can you do?"

Bresnik is one of two pilots among the 11 selectees; the other is Air Force Maj. James Dutton, currently an F-22 Raptor test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base who flew combat air patrols over northern Iraq.

"With the new exploration vision, human space flight is really moving into its next era," said NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight William Readdy, himself a former Navy captain, former astronaut and fellow TPS graduate. "Members of this class have terrific experience behind them already, and we're thrilled to have their smarts and skills to help us move forward," he said.

The other nine candidate astronauts are all mission specialists and engineers, and include a Navy SEAL, Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Cassidy, who completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan and earned a Bronze Star, and mission specialist-educator Richard Arnold, 40, of Berlin, Md., a math and science teacher at the American International School of Bucharest, Romania, but who was born in Cheverly and raised in Bowie. Arnold has degrees from Frostburg State University and the University of Maryland.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VX-20 test pilot to discuss Hawkeye fleet upgrades - Wednesday, May 5, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/050504/28896-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

The Patuxent River squadron of the Association of Naval Aviation will be joined by Pax River's Society of Engineers and Scientists chapter in hosting a combined luncheon 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Officers' Club. The luncheon will feature as guest speaker Lt. Scott Keller of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20. He will present an overview of the development and fleet integration of the NP2000 propeller and the Garmin GNS-530 Navigation System in the E-2C Hawkeye. All local military and civilian employees, active and retired, including non-ANA and non-SES members are invited to attend.

Keller graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 1996 and received his pilot's wings in February 1999. He underwent E-2C transition training at Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 120 (VAW-120), Norfolk, and completed two WESTPAC deployments with VAW-112 aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom.

He reported to the U. S. Naval Test Pilot School and graduated with Class 123 in June 2003, reporting to VX-20 to begin his current assignment as an E-2C project officer and test pilot.

His current projects include the NP2000 eight-bladed propeller, integration of a Garmin GPS/VOR/ILS receiver into the E-2, in-flight refueling evaluation with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and a structural loads verification effort for the development of the Advanced Hawkeye, the follow-on platform for the E-2C.

Those wishing to attend should respond to ANA representative Sarah Dothard at 301-862-5241 or SES representative Jim Rodriguez at 301-342-8403 by noon, Monday. For information on ANA membership call Pat Gigliotti, 301-342-5838. For information on SES membership, call Rodriguez.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...TPS, SETP symposia papers highlight T-45, Wright Flyer, V-22 - By Bill Swanson - Wednesday, April 28, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/042804/28785-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

The nose wheel of the T-45 Goshawk, the V-22 Osprey's "sea legs," shaped sonic booms and "a repair of the sound barrier that was broken in 1947," the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's munitions bays, and the art of flight testing one of the most difficult-to-fly aircraft ever built - the 100-year-old Wright Flyer - were among the dozen topics presented at two back-to-back technical symposia presented last week here and at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The two occasions were the Society of Experimental Test Pilots'20th annual East Coast symposium held Thursday at the Naval Academy, followed on Friday by the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School's 56th annual reunion and symposium held here at TPS and at several other NAS Patuxent River, Maryland facilities.

The SETP luncheon speaker was Air Force Maj. Gen. John L. Hudson, program executive officer for the Joint Strike Fighter, while Friday's luncheon speaker was TPS graduate Brian Binnie, a test pilot for Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne project. The Friday lunch was sponsored by Naval Test Wing Atlantic, which also presented its annual awards (see adjacent story).

Over the course of the two days, 12 technical presentations were made, with some of the presentations being repeated at TPS after they were presented at the Naval Academy a day earlier, though sometimes with different presenters.

"Control Upset Prevention and Recovery: Simulation Database and Maneuver Development for Transport Aircraft" was presented by Rob Rivers of NASA's Langley Research Center, which despite its relatively bland title was a fascinating look at the flight performance of large transport and commercial airline aircraft maneuverability in crash situations. Rivers noted that in the past 10 years there have been 35 crashes of large transport or commercial aircraft, resulting in the loss of several thousand lives. These have been caused by a condition known as loss of control in flight, the single largest category of aircraft fatal mishaps, he said.

The actual root causes are varied; two of the cases were caused by shoulder-mounted missiles fired at transport planes in Iraq, while others have been caused by engine flameouts, failure of hydraulic systems, broken parts and other accidental conditions. But what they have in common is that the aircraft's nose comes up, the pilot experiences "stick shake" at about 12 degrees angle-of-attack (also called "alpha"), enters "approach to stall" at about 18 degrees alpha, and loses control (and subsequently crashes) somewhere above 24 degrees alpha and 10 degrees of sideslip.

However, Rivers said, studies from "black box" recordings, wind tunnel testing and other data have shown that very large damaged airplanes are often flyable and controllable well up into the 50-degree and 60-degree range. The first problem is that during pilot training, "you can't take a [Boeing] 737 or 757 or Airbus out to 50 degrees angle-of-attack" during flight training, so no one ever practices recovery from such a situation. The next problem is that aircraft simulators are not programmed to simulate conditions above 24 degrees alpha and 10 degrees sideslip, so it is once again impossible to practice recovery from conditions above those parameters.

Rivers said wind tunnel tests have accumulated 46,000 test points in static, oscillation and spin tunnel testing modes.

But here's the rub: "How do you certify a simulator that goes up to 60-, 80-, 90 degrees of angle-of-attack?" he asked.

He said that it is not obvious to pilots that part of the solution to a loss-of-control situation is to reduce the sideslip. Overall, he said, pilots and engineers need to develop post-stall recovery techniques and procedures, now that it has been determined that large aircraft can indeed recover from some severe conditions after all.

"V-22 Shipboard Roll On-Deck Testing" was delivered at the SETP meeting by Pax River's V-22 team members Marine Corps Maj. Paul Hagar and civilians Bill Geyer; "V-22 Testing Update" was given at TPS by Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kevin Gross, Government Flight Test director of the Pax V-22 Integrated Test Team. With some variations, both presentations focused on correction of what happened during a 1999 test of the V-22 Osprey during a sea trial, as shown in an impressive video shown to both audiences. A V-22 was sitting on the deck of an amphibious assault ship, with its rotors idling, while two stations (263 feet) in front of it a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter came in to land. The test was designed to see what happened to the V-22 due to the helicopters rotor wash, and what happened was an "uncommanded lateral roll" of 6 degrees, first to port and then to starboard. In other words, the Sea Knight caused the V-22 to rock sideways almost enough to cause the V-22's tilted engines to strike the decks - not a good thing. The condition was clearly not anticipated, which is why these kinds of field tests are conducted in the first place, but now that it has been identified it can be dealt with.

Another "white knuckle" presentation concerned the solution to a longstanding ground-handling problem with the nose wheel of the T-45 Goshawk trainer aircraft which pilots and engineers have been wrestling with ever since the aircraft was first introduced in 1989; 12 such runway departures have occurred in just the last year. The paper was titled "T-45 Nose Wheel Stability Augmentation Steering System Testing" and was given at both SETP and TPS by VX-23's Lt. Ryan Murphy and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20's Lt. Scott Giles. Murphy noted that the problem was caused by a combination of the geometry of the T-45's landing gear and the composition of the tires, among other things. The result is a disproportionate number of incidents and accidents that occurred when the T-45 suddenly skidded off the runway or taxi area.

The "white knuckle" portion of the presentation came when Murphy and Giles showed a brief video of one such occurrence which became known as "the Phoenix Incident." A Navy pilot, a young lieutenant commander based at VX-23 was flying a T-45 out to Edwards Air Force Base for some crosswind landing tests, and on the last leg of the trip landed at Phoenix Airport to refuel. On the runway a few hundred feet adjacent to the T-45's runway were a series of commercial passenger jets on another parallel runway, waiting their turns to take off. What happened next was filmed by the T-45 pilot's HUD (head-up display) camera.

The T-45 touched down normally but just after the pilot applied the brakes, they locked up, and the plane skidded wildly to the left off the runway, heading right toward the line of commercial jets full of passengers. Fortunately, the T-45 corrected in time and managed not to hit anything or injure the pilot, who went on to become Rear Adm. David Venlet, presently commander of NAWCWD headquartered at China Lake. The "Phoenix Incident" significantly altered how airports handle T-45 landings by air traffic controllers making sure other aircraft, especially civilian aircraft, are not located on adjacent runways.

Some time ago, engineers discovered that inflating the T-45's nose wheel to 350 psi was a partially solution, along with some other changes to the tire itself. However, it wasn't until the new modification, called the Stability Augmented Steering System, was made that the problem was finally solved. The fix involves providing yaw rate feedback to the nose wheel steering system, and included extensive crosswind and wet runway landings. The system will begin installation in the fleet in December and will take about a year to complete.

In the presentation "How They Flew: Modern Flight Test of Pioneering Wright Aircraft," Lt. Cmdr. Klas "Santa" Ohman of VX-23 presented videos of his experience as one of a team of test pilots flying the 1902 Wright Glider and the historic "first flight" 1903 Wright Flyer last year near Kitty Hawk, N.C., and at Dayton, Ohio. The Wright Brothers were "stubborn, athletic - and lucky," Ohman said. Ohman, who is VX-23's carrier suitability officer, has flown 37 different kinds of aircraft and has "trapped" aboard 12 of America's 13 active aircraft carriers, said the Wright Flyer was the most difficult aircraft he's ever flown.

Something close to another "white knuckle" experience was shown in "The Growth of an Aircraft: Characteristics and Attributes of the H-6 Series Helicopter" presented by Army Lt. Col. Patrick H. Mason at both meetings. Mason described how the original four-bladed, V-tailed OH-6A/B/C models (several of which are here at TPS) transitioned into later five-bladed and then six-bladed J and M models, both with T-tail configurations. This came about in part due to the changing mission of that helicopter, Mason said, its original use in reconnaissance and training to something a little bit different. To show what that new mission was, Mason showed a three-minute clip from the movie Blackhawk Down - a thrilling sequence during which a squadron of about 10 OH-6Ms accompany a pair of Blackhawks as they skim over the beach and shoreline in Somalia on their way to support troops and the two downed Blackhawks in the movie title. Along the way, a sharpshooter in one of the birds shoots into the engine block of a car transporting a bad guy warlord to a key meeting. The warlord is chatting unconcerned on a cell phone as the helicopters surround him, but when his car is stopped and surrounded by the choppers, he says into the phone, "I'm going to be late." A later scene showed the helos deploying soldiers onto rooftops in Mogadishu and providing covering fire. In other words, it was no training mission.

"F/A-18 E/F Transonic Flying Qualities Overview" was presented by VX-23 Navy Lt. Bill Thames, Peter Dougherty of Air and Kelan Sisk of Air They discussed the original and follow-on testing of solutions to the original "wing drop" flying qualities problem. The solution consists of a full-chord wing "fence" near the location of the F/A-18's wing fold-up hinge, as well as a new sawtooth edge configuration for the leading edge flap; these change significantly decrease or eliminate the buffeting that severely compromised the aircraft in high-angle-of-attack situations.

"Shaped Sonic Boom Demo Program Overview" was presented by Pax River's Cmdr. Darryl Long, who noted that the problem was for aircraft designers to learn how to "be big, go fast, and NOT break things." He showed how aircraft produce a series of small shock waves which propagate and coalesce into an "N wave," the one large shock wave that becomes the troublesome sonic boom bystanders complain about. He demonstrated ways the shape of an aircraft can be made to reduce or "cancel out" these shock waves to significantly reduce sonic booming.

"Updating the Tower Fly-By Air Data System Calibration Method at the NAS Patuxent River, Maryland Tower" was presented by R. Brandon Munday and Michael J. Wagner, both of VX-20. They discussed revitalization of the tower fly-by method at Pax River and incorporation of digital camera technology into this method. The system arose when older alternative methods-radar-based or laser-based ground tracking or use of a flyby tower, were found to be lacking for various reasons. The new system allowed for an inexpensive, safe and practical calibration of the air data system on a test T-34C aircraft.

George Dimitrov, chief of the rapid prototyping division of the Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate at Fort Eustis, Va., gave a brief overview of his department and directorate, including the Helicopter Active-Control Technology, a fly-by-wire program, the IMC/IFR Apache, Blue Force Tracking-Aviation and a Brown-Out Situational Awareness Program for the Army's UH-60 and CH-47 fleet.

Marine Corps Maj. David Park's presentation on Friday at the TPS on "Joint Strike Fighter Fire Control and Stores" covered some of the same ground as Hudson discussed at Thursday's SETP luncheon. Park stuck to issues concerning basic stores release and employment features of the JSF as well as lessons learned from the "predict, test, validate" process being used by Lockheed Martin in relation to stores release/employment.

Much of Park's presentation showed how various kinds of munitions and armaments will be stored and mounted inside the aircraft as well as under the wings, along with the performance trade-offs involved.

Hudson gave a very broad overview of the F-35 program, but provided some new information regarding Pax River's role in the testing of the JSF. Of the nine F-35s that will be coming to Pax River starting in 2007, four will be the Navy F-35C aircraft carrier version, and five will be the Marine Corps/British Navy F-35B STOVL (Short take-off vertical landing) model. The manufacturers will provide six civilian test pilots, while the military will assign eight test pilots. These will include four from the Navy, two from the Marine Corps and one from the Royal Navy, all of whom will do developmental testing. The eighth military test pilots will come from the Marine Corps and will do operational testing.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...No museum plane 'left unscrubbed' - Wednesday, April 21, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/042104/28657-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

Volunteer wash crews from Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons 20 and 23, the Test Pilot School, the Naval Research Lab's Flight Support Detachment, and the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department came together April 15 to leave no plane unscrubbed during the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum's annual Naval Test Wing Atlantic aircraft wash in preparation for the upcoming TPS reunion/symposium tomorrow.

The wash team was coordinated and supervised by Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Jack Frame of NTWL. Capt Thomas Phelan, NTWL commander, NTWL's Master Chief Aircraft Maintenanceman Cindi La Porte, retired Lt. Cmdr. Harry Errington; and Toby van Esselstyn, museum director, as well as the commanding officers, chief test pilots and maintenance officers from the squadrons were on board to thank the troops.

The wash crew included volunteers from:

VX-20: Charles Kelly, Shawn Newsome, Tony Herrera, Shane Willet, Darryl Smallwood, and Jason Huffman;

VX-23: Sean Wilson, Terry Summers, Ernest Hall, Michael Dykstra, and Jerrod Micolavanfurstenrecht;

TPS: Commanding Officer Cmdr. Paul Sohl, Lt. Michael Meads, M. E. Clark, Kristi Baker, Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Quinn, Dr. Vern Gordon, Dawn Weaver, Lynn Gulley, Jim "Bumpy" White, Scott Tice, and Jerry Pease;

NRL: Daniel Slagel, Mac Ganeshan, Jesse Stone, Christopher Jacobus, Michael Dubois, and Dustin Belcher;

AIMD: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Brown, Lt. Jacqueline Etheridge, Charles Thomason, Gunnery Sgt. James Justice, Albert Budaszewski, Jason Newall, Craig Fowler, Nekoma Mack, Juwairiah Taylor, Michael Whitney, Jeramie Jackson, Christopher Ruiz, David Smith, Anthony Dobuque, Cpl. James Griffin, Lance Cpl. Allen Parvis, and Aaron Yauabowskas.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...StarShipOne pilot speaks at TPS reunion - By Bill Swanson - Wednesday, April 14, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/041404/28543-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

On Dec. 17, Brian Binnie, a former Navy F/A-18 pilot and 1988 graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (Class 93) here, strapped on his helmet and climbed into the cockpit of StarShipOne, a privately funded research sub-orbital rocket plane designed by the legendary Burt Rutan, was carried aloft to 48,000 feet over California City, Calif., by Rutan's equally unusual twin-turbojet launch aircraft White Knight, and at 8:15 a.m. was released by the launch aircraft.

Binnie leveled the craft into a stable glide, fired the rocket motor and pulled the stick back. Nine seconds later, Binnie broke the Sound Barrier (Mach 1) and continued upward at a 60-degree angle, still accelerating and pulling about 2.5 g's. Six seconds later, at a speed of about 800 mph (Mach 1.2) in a vertical climb, the rocket shut off, and Binnie coasted upward, reaching zero airspeed at about 68,000 feet. Binnie then "feathered" the control surfaces of the craft into what will eventually become its sub-orbital entry mode, and glided nearly weightless for almost a minute.

Binnie then reconfigured the aircraft again, this time into its normal glider mode, and 12 minutes later landed at Mohave Airport, home test field for Rutan and his Scaled Composites company, which is building and test flying aviation history's first manned supersonic aircraft developed by a small company's private, non-government effort.

A week ago, with Binnie flying the White Knight launch vehicle and test pilot Pete Siebold flying the StarShipOne, the rocket plane climbed to 105,000 feet and a speed of Mach 1.6 after a 40-second rocket burn. At least one goal of the program is to win the $10 million X Prize for a sub-orbital flight that can reach an altitude of 62 miles by the end of this calendar year.

Binnie will be the guest speaker April 23 at 11:30 a.m. at the annual Naval Test Wing, Atlantic Awards Luncheon at the Officers' Club, which always coincides with the TPS annual reunion and symposium that day.

The symposium and NTWL luncheon are open to all interested station employees, and registration is still open for these and other reunion events. Register by logging on to the TPS Web site at http:\\www.usntps.navy. mil, stopping by the school or calling 301-757-5013.

The technical symposium presentations will be held at the TPS auditorium, beginning with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. The symposium is free, and all are encouraged to attend. The presentation topics and speakers are:

1. V-22 Testing Update; Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kevin Gross; high-rate-of-descent in search of vortex ring state testing, shipboard roll on-deck testing, and natural icing development.

2. Fort Eustis AATD Update; George Dimitrov; HACT/VIDAL, a fly-by-wire program, IMC/IFR Apache, Blue Force Tracking-Aviation and a Brown-Out Situational Awareness Program (UH-60 and CH-47)

3. Updating the Tower Fly-By Air Data System Calibration Method at the NAS Patuxent River, Maryland Tower; R. Brandon Munday and Michael J. Wagner, both of VX-20; revitalization of the tower fly-by method at Pax River and incorporation of digital camera technology into this method.

4. The Growth of an Aircraft - Characteristics and Attributes of the H-6 Series Helicopter; Army Lt. Col. Pat Mason, AATD Fort Eustis; changes in performance and handling qualities to the H-6 series helicopter as a basic airframe was continuously upgraded over a 20-year period.

5. How They Flew: Modern Flight Test of Pioneering Wright Aircraft; VX-23 Lt. Cmdr. Klas Ohman; results from one of the four joint service test pilots who planned and flew trials of two authentic reproductions of Wright aircraft, specifically the Wright 1902 Glider and 1903 Flyer.

6. F/A-18 E/F Transonic Flying Qualities Overview; VX-23 Navy Lt. Bill Thames, Peter Dougherty of Air and Kelan Sisk of Air; discussion of the original and follow-on testing of solutions to the original EMD phase "wing drop" flying qualities problem.

7. T-45 Stability Augmentation Steering System; VX-23 Lt. Cmdr. Scott Giles; incorporation of the SASS into the T-45 to solve the sensitive ground handling characteristics of the T-45.

8. Joint Strike Fighter Fire Control and Stores; Marine Corps Maj. David Park; basic stores release/employment features of JSF and lessons learned from the "predict, test, validate" process being used by Lockheed Martin in relation to stores release/employment.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VX-20 first to welcome Navy's Texan trainer - By Brian Seraile - Wednesday, March 10, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/031004/27898-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

The Navy's newest training aircraft arrived here last week, making Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 the first Navy squadron to receive it.

The T-6A Texan II arrived Friday, doing several "touch and go" maneuvers before making its way to VX-20.

The aircraft, flown by chief test pilot Cmdr. Steven Wright and Cmdr. James Reining, came from Pensacola, Fla., where it has replaced the Beechcraft T-34 as the Navy's training aircraft.

The T-6A arrived here exactly seven months after a ceremony held in Pensacola celebrated the first flight of the trainer by a student Naval flight officer.

The Air Force has used the T-6 since 2001 and the first Navy training class to use the aircraft began last June.

The aircraft will be used to train entry-level students in the fundamentals of flight so they can transition into advanced training tracks leading to qualification as military pilots and flight officers.

"The Navy is upgrading to this particular trainer because instead of having prop airplane characteristics, it has jet characteristics," said Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Donald Staren-Doby, VX-20's public affairs officer. "In addition to that, it's more configurable than the T-34, so basically you can configure the T-6 with drop tanks, training munitions, and gun pods, thus making it more like a fleet airplane and less like a trainer."

VX-20 will test critical safety-of-flight issues, reliability and maintainability modifications, and performance characteristics. Raytheon Aircraft, a subsidiary of Raytheon Company, manufactures the aircraft. It is a primary trainer that will accommodate instruction in advanced aerial and air-to-ground maneuvers. The aircraft is capable of providing more than 155 hours of training, including weapons delivery training.

It is a single-engine, two-place, tandem seat, pressurized, low-wing, ejection seat-equipped training aircraft. A Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 turboprop engine powers the aircraft with a Hartzell four-bladed propeller.

"By transitioning to this advanced flight training system," Staren-Doby said, "the Navy is giving its future aviation warfighters the best trainer available, which will in turn ease their transition into the fleet."

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...New air museum closer to reality - By Jim Jenkins - Wednesday, March 3, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/030304/27785-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

The new Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is one big step closer to reality after two companies, DynCorp International and DynCorp Technical Services, combined to pledge $100,000 to the project.

A donation ceremony was held Feb. 26 at the current, temporary museum near Gate 1, where DynCorp representatives flew from as far away as Texas to participate and to hand over the first installment of their $100,000 pledge. The ceremony also drew local Navy leaders such as then-NAWCAD Commander Rear Adm. Timothy Heely, Naval Test Wing Atlantic Commander Capt. Tom Phelan, and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland Commanding Officer Capt. Dane Swanson, as well as State Sen. Roy Dyson (D-29th), and St. Mary's County Commissioner President Thomas McKay and his staff. Also in attendance at the ceremony were the commanding officers and representatives from the leadership of VX-20, HX-21, VX-23 and Test Pilot School.

The current and future Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is one of only 11 Navy museums nationwide officially approved by the Secretary of the Navy.

The proposed new Patuxent River Naval Air Museum will be an architecturally impressive facility which will highlight the past, present and future of Naval aviation, serve as a visual gateway to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and Lexington Park, introduce visitors to the cultural history of Southern Maryland, and provide new educational opportunities for the community, according to the vision statement presented in December 1999 when the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum Project Development Committee initially showed the plan for a new Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park to the Board of St. Mary's County Commissioners. The committee told the commissioners this project represents a strategic opportunity for the county, the region and the state to realize important goals in economic development, education and tourism.

The new museum complex is a joint effort between the Navy, the state of Maryland, St. Mary's County and the PRNAM Association. The PRNAM Association established the New Museum Capital Campaign whose goal is to raise $3 million toward the new museum complex. But only half that amount is needed to begin the project, and with this latest donation, the new PRNAM is just $500,000 away from breaking ground, according to retired Rear Adm. L.F. "Gus" Eggert, Patuxent River Naval Air Museum Association president and New Museum Capital Campaign chairperson.

"This is going to help us build the museum," Eggert said, "which we're looking forward to getting here very soon. It's going to be the centerpiece of St. Mary's County. We're very proud of what we're going to do here. We get more people in this museum than almost any other attraction in the county. We expect to double or triple that when we get our new facilities, so we

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Test pilot honored for 6,000 flight hours in E-2C Hawkeye - Wednesday, January 28, 2004..." WebSite: Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/stories/012804/27249-1.shtml [06OCT2006]

Robert Jackson, a test pilot at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20, was recently honored by NAVAIR's E-2/C-2 Program office and the Northrop Grumman Corporation for having achieved 6,000 flight hours in the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. Jackson, an employee of Advanced Information Engineering Services, is only the second pilot to have reached this milestone since the E-2C was put into service in 1973.

In recognition of Jackson's achievement a wood and bronze plaque with a small relief sculpture of an E-2C was presented to him by Capt. Robert LaBelle, E-2/C-2 Program Manager, PMA-231, and Julius Longshore of Northrop Grumman.

Jackson logged his record number of hours over the past 20-plus years, flying active-duty missions, as a reservist and as a member of VX-20's aircrew. Flying the test squadron's aircraft since 1990, he has been integrally involved in planning and conducting test and evaluation of hardware and software systems for the Hawkeye, including the NP-2000 propeller, Cooperative Engagement Capability and Advanced Hawkeye systems.

Copyright © 2006 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP History ThumbnailCameraVX-20 History "...V-22 Starts Air-to-Air Refueling Tests - Story Number: NNS040330-15 - Release Date: 3/31/2004 4:26:00 AM - By Ward Carroll, Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs..." WebSite: Navy News Stand http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=12574 [12APR2005]

Picture: 030601-N-0000X-001 NAS Patuxent River, Maryland (May 1, 2003) -- Four V-22 Osprey aircraft sit along the flight line with rotors turning before recent test flights. Over the last 12 months, the Osprey Integrated Test Team has conducted more than 500 hours of mishap free flying while executing a very challenging and dynamic test plan. U.S. Navy Photo. (RELEASED)

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- On the afternoon of March 22, the V-22 Integrated Test Team (ITT) flew the first air-to-air refueling flights since the program's return to flight in May of 2002.

Over the course of two one-hour sorties using Osprey No. 22, test pilots Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Gross and Steve Grohsmeyer each logged five "dry plugs" behind an Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 KC-130F operating near Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The pilots were assisted by crew chiefs Marine Staff Sgts. Brett Heuvelman and Craig Mynard.

The primary reason for the flights was to re-establish Gross and Grohsmeyer's day aerial refueling qualifications. Eventually, the ITT will have six pilots qualified to tank day and night, and at night while wearing night vision goggles--all part of the developmental test plan.

"Air-to-air refueling is an easy task in the V-22," Gross said after the flights. "The aircraft demonstrates positive and predictable characteristics in all axes, but especially in the thrust axis where the pilot's ability to control closure rates is important."

Gross said this particular refueling exercise was done at airspeeds around 200 knots and an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Although Osprey No. 22 has an 11-foot fixed probe, the qualification flights were the initial step toward testing the new retractable refueling probe that will be installed on Osprey No. 21, currently being modified in Hangar 109 at Patuxent River. The developmental testing of the retractable probe will begin early next month and should last about three weeks. The retractable probe is just over 9 feet long when extended but is flush with the nose when stowed--a necessary feature for shipboard operations.

The V-22's air-to-air refueling features are the cornerstone of the improvements in self-deployment capability and operational range over the legacy systems it will replace.

The air-to-air refueling developmental testing is just one area where the ITT is supporting Tilt-Rotor Operational Test Squadron (VMX) 22, the Osprey Test and Evaluation Squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., as they prepare for OPEVAL next year. Once developmental testing is complete--whether it is air-to-air refueling, formation flight, or shipboard operations--VMX-22 is cleared to begin operational testing in that area.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP History ThumbnailCameraVX-20 History "...Kennedy's Flight Deck Hosts Historic Landing - Story Number: NNS031124-19 - Release Date: 11/25/2003 5:00:00 AM - By Journalist Seaman Timothy J. Cox, USS John F. Kennedy Public Affairs..." WebSite: Navy News Stand http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=10770 [12APR2005]

Picture: 031121-N-4190W-001 The Atlantic Ocean, Nov. 21, 2003 -- An E-2C Hawkeye equipped with two NP2000 eight-bladed, digitally controlled propellers makes its first carrier arrested landing, while conducting testing aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). The new propellers provide less vibration and less noise than the four-bladed ones now in use. This is the initial carrier certification of the new props. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Christian Weibull. (RELEASED)

ABOARD USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (NNS) -- The Navy's recently upgraded E-2C Hawkeye made history Nov. 22 by becoming the first of its kind to land on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), at sea for flight deck certification, provided the platform for Lt. Cmdr. Michael Santomauro to land the newly-designed, early-warning propeller aircraft.

In the spring of 2001, the Navy began field-testing a new propeller configuration for the E-2Cs. Setting its sights on improving the reliability and maintainability of the aircraft, the Navy replaced the four-bladed propellers with an eight-bladed variety.

"I could tell when it was coming in that it was different from the standard E-2s," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Steve Hemmer of V-2 division. "It's a lot quieter and seems more modern."

The landing marked the final chapter in a project that has yielded a major asset for the sea services.

"It was pretty gratifying for me to make this flight," said Santomauro, project officer for VX-20 out of NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. "The final step for the program was to evaluate the flying capabilities and operation of the E-2C in a carrier environment. Kennedy provided us with that."

The E-2C is an early warning, command and control aircraft designed to provide ships at sea with radar support and data related to enemy positions and maneuvers.

"In layman's terms, the Hawkeye coordinates the good guys and looks for the bad guys," said former naval aviator Les Ryan, now a test pilot with VX-20.

With the successful carrier landing in the hopper, the Navy can now begin retrofitting the remaining E-2Cs with the new eight-bladed props.

The plan calls for complete overhaul of the entire fleet squadron by March 2004.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Navy's P-3C Loses Weight – Improves Mission Readiness - Story Number: NNS040310-09 - Release Date: 3/10/2004 11:24:00 AM - By Derrill Thompson, Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs..." Navy News Stand http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=12252 [12APR2005]

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- DRS Data and Imaging Systems delivered the first AN/AQH-13A acoustic data recorder/reproducer digital variant to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program Office Jan. 12.

The recorder, a cost-wise readiness initiative, will be installed and tested aboard a P-3C Update III Antisubmarine Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) aircraft here at Force Aircraft Test Squadron (VX) 20.

After successful completion of developmental and operational tests, the AN/AQH-13A will replace the two AN/AQH-4 recorder/reproducer sets currently installed aboard P-3C AIP aircraft. The change will decrease the aircraft's zero fuel weight by about 80 pounds, the aircraft's parts count, and the number of obsolete and out of production items that are part of the aircraft inventory.

According to Tim Naugle, P-3C Update III systems engineer, "replacing the two AQH-4 recorders eliminates another of the high degraders currently impacting P-3 AIP mission readiness. The AQH-13A was developed in response to the need to record the digital uplink data from the AN/SSQ-101 Air Deployed Active Receiver (ADAR) sonobuoy."

The ADAR sonobuoy is part of the Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) system developed by the Air ASW [anti-submarine warfare] Systems Program Office as part of the Navy's effort to improve large-rea ASW search capabilities.

Lt. Jim Bolin, VX-20 project officer for both systems, indicated that they are slated for transition to operational testing later this year. According to Bolin, "this combination, AQH/13A and IEER, has the potential to provide a marked improvement in user system interface, crew resource management, and on-station effectiveness when compared to current fleet capabilities."

The AQH-13A is also easier to maintain and operate. "The VHS size cassette tapes and automatic head cleaner will decrease the workload both literally and figuratively," said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class Rob Hunt, VX-20 IEER test team acoustic systems operator. The number of tapes required is one quarter of those required for the AQH-4, and the weight of the tapes is reduced by nearly 90 percent.

"That will please the fleet operators using the new system who are required to carry the tapes to and from the aircraft for each mission," according to Hunt.

Other benefits include decreased life cycle costs. Tape costs will be reduced by 75 percent, while the cost per tape is roughly the same, $100 each; the AQH-13A requires only one cassette for four hours of data versus four rolls for the AQH-4. The use of a cleaning tape that automatically completes a cleaning cycle when inserted into the tape transport will not only simplify a vital maintenance task, it eliminates the need to use denatured alcohol, a hazardous material, as a cleaning agent.

The AQH-13A is Standing NATO Agreement (STANAG) 4283-compliant, enabling P-3C AIP aircraft to record digital uplink data from up to 16 digital sonobuoys for post-mission analysis, while maintaining all the functions currently available with the AQH-13 and AQH-4 systems. NATO STANAG compliance permits the potential use of allied digital sonobuoys, such as Australian, SSQ-981/BARRA and British, SSQ-955/High Instantaneous Dynamic Range, in addition to SSQ-101/ADAR.

A local flight clearance was used to install the initial system. "This permitted the test team to expedite developmental test operations," said P-3C Block Modification Upgrade (BMUP) installation IPT Lead Jim Neugent, "while the BMUP finalized the proposed engineering change procedures and the final flight clearance request." This combined effort will result in cost and schedule savings for subsequent installations of the AQH-13A aboard fleet aircraft.

A planned system upgrade promises to further reduce the life cycle costs of the AQH-13A. The program intends to continue the goals of Naval Aviation Readiness Integrated Improvement Program in providing cost-wise readiness to the warfighter.

The upgrade will replace the tape drive in the current configuration with a removable disk drive--further improving reliability. The disk will be a "form, fit, and function" replacement that will also reduce data recovery time by providing random access to data from any location on the disk.

The Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program expects to complete the initial integration of the AQH-13A into 25 P-3C AIP aircraft by early 2005. Future efforts will integrate the AQH-13A into the remaining Update III and AIP P-3C aircraft.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...First T-6A Arrives at NAVAIR Patuxent River, Maryland for Testing - Story Number: NNS040315-16 - Release Date: 3/16/2004 10:00:00 AM - By Renee Hatcher, NAVAIR Public Affairs, PEO(A)..." Navy News Stand http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=12372 [12APR2005]

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The first T-6A Texan II was officially welcomed at Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Patuxent River during an aircraft acceptance ceremony March 11.

"The Texan is setting the standard for the next couple of decades on how we go about efficiently producing skilled pilots," said Vice Adm. Wally Massenburg, NAVAIR commander. "This aircraft is a win-win product for industry, and the Navy and its warfighters, and is an example of NAVAIR aligning our priorities with fleet-driven metrics."

During the ceremony, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, based at NAVAIR Patuxent River, Maryland, was officially assigned as the responsible test organization. VX-20 has been tasked with supporting the joint service test requirements as assigned by NAVAIR's Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office (PMA-273) and the U.S. Air Force System Program Office. The squadron will be supporting and testing critical safety-of-flight issues, reliability and maintainability modifications, and performance mission for both the Navy and Air Force.

"We welcome the opportunity to be the responsible test organization and look forward to working with (Jet Flight Training System program office) to make the T-6 the most efficient training asset for the fleet," said Cmdr. Shane Gahagan, VX-20 commanding officer.

The Texan is a part of the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) that is augmented with a sophisticated ground based training system. JPATS is a joint program between the Air Force and the Navy, with the Air Force serving as the lead service. The Texan will replace the Navy's T-34C Turbo Mentor and will be used for primary flight training.

One of the greatest advantages of the Texan is that it has a digital cockpit. Before the Texan, student aviators conducted their initial flight training in aircraft equipped with an analog cockpit and then had to make the transition to a digital cockpit in the fleet aircraft. The T-6A allows students to begin their training with the technology they will actually fly in fleet.

The Navy accepted the first Texan into its inventory in November 2002 and plans to buy 328 aircraft. So far, the Navy has procured 49 Texans. Of those, 31 have been delivered to Training Air Wing (TW) 6 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., for Naval Flight Officer training. The remaining 278 aircraft will be delivered by fiscal year 2013 and used for pilot training at NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas.

"The T-6 Texan is setting the foundation for the digital revolution in naval aviation training," said Capt. David Wooten, NAVAIR's Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems program manager. "The Jet Flight Training Systems program office, with testing support from VX-20, is improving the Navy's training agility to meet fleet requirements."

Circa 2003

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraPhoto by AMC(AW/SW) Christopher Carlson "...May 22, 2003 - VX-20 Sailor retirement marks milestone for S-3 - by Brian Seraile - PUBLIC AFFAIRS..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/8_20/features/23259-1.html [17DEC2005]

Photograph Caption: Donald Dirkin gets "wet down" in a traditional ceremony following his final flight.

Donald Dirkin will make history when he retires today.

He will become the Navy's last active aviation warfare systems operator to fly an S-3 Viking. The AW rate will no longer have a seat on the plane.

The 9 a.m. ceremony will be at one of his favorite places: the Cedar Point Golf Course.

"I can walk away from this, retire next week and say everything that I've done here was with the fleet first and foremost in my mind," Dirkin said.

For the past four years, Dirkin has worked here helping to develop the software that drives the S-3 weapon systems. He said he has received great support from the Naval flight officers and pilots of the S-3B team even though there was no longer a billet for aviation warfare systems operators on the S-3.

"They still made me feel part of the team," he said.

Dirkin has been doing test and evaluation on the software that Lockheed Martin develops. If the fleet doesn't like it or needs an upgrade, Lockheed Martin upgrades it and then it goes back for more test and evaluation.

He said his experience at Pax has been an important learning experience.

"Here I learned the government and acquisition and test and evaluation and what goes into getting the product out to the fleet," he said.

Dirkin joined the Navy in February 1983 and attended boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill. His orders took him to Philadelphia, near his Wenonah, N.J., hometown and from there, he went aboard USS Forrestal (CVA 59). Dirkin quickly realized he wanted to fly for the Navy so he applied for the AW rate.

He graduated from Naval Air Crew Candidate School in February 1985 and his first fleet squadron orders took him to VS-35, known as the Boomerangs. That squadron, now known as the Blue Wolves, is the one President Bush flew with earlier this month when he welcomed Sailors aboard USS Abraham Lincoln home.

"We were part of a brand new Carrier Air Group which was going to be called CAG 10," Dirkin said. "Because the fighter squadrons couldn't form up, they ended up disbanding the CAG and decommissioning our squadron."

In his first S-3 squadron, Dirkin island-hopped to Hawaii, Guam, Wake Island and Misawa, Japan.

"Initially we were the prototype squadron to see if S-3s could be viable over the Far East," he said.

VS-35 was the first S-3 squadron to deploy to Japan as a "proof of concept" that the "Mighty War Hoover" could be a viable permanent asset to the Carrier Air Wing stationed in Japan. As it turned out, they did that just a few years later becoming part of the Carrier Air Group aboard USS Independence (CV 62).

Dirkin credits PMA-299 engineer Mike McCurdy, who was Dirkin's Lead Petty Officer at VS-35, with encouraging Dirkin to come to Pax.

He met McCurdy in the '80s, "when leadership was the most important concept to enlisted people, at least it was to us," he said. "Two things he really taught me were leadership and be the best you can be in that aircraft."

In March 1990, Dirkin went to shore duty and attended the U.S. War College where he worked in the war gaming department doing research and development.

Dirkin said the highlight of his career was his time spent in VS-24 between 1994 and 1998 when he did two deployments flying Electronic Warfare Support along the coast of Bosnia.

"We were in Bosnia flying 24/7 and it just doesn't get any better than that," he said. "You're flying 24 hours a day seven days a week and flying combat sorties."

During this time his was the first squadron to shoot Tactical Air-Launched Decoys, unpowered glide decoys used to confuse enemy surface-to-air missile defenses during an air strike "to make it look like there are a bunch of airplanes," he said.

"My expertise was at a high. I understood warfare. I understood the S-3 airplane," he said. "I really dove into the books and tried to become as good in the airplane as I possibly could."

Dirkin met Capt. Steven Dailey, who was his commanding officer, at VS-24. Dirkin said Dailey taught him the value of leadership.

"Captain Dailey was without a doubt the best commanding officer, leader and Naval officer I have had the pleasure to serve under," Dirkin said. "The way he led our squadron was just incredible. Everybody followed him and everybody would be willing to do anything for him."

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraIEER System "...March 6, 2003 - Fleet supports NAVAIR flight test - by Derrill Thompson - SPECIAL TO THE TESTER. Mentioned (CPRW-11, VP-45 and VX-20)..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/8_09/features/21891-1.html [16DEC2005]

Photograph Caption: Lt. Jim Bolin, right, VX-20 AIP project officer, points out the capabilities of the IEER system to Lt. Jeff Hartsell of VP-45 during preflight.

Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 and the "Fighting Pelicans" of VP-45 hosted a combined military, civil service, and contractor team from NAVAIR Jacksonville in support of continued developmental test of the Improved Extended Echo Ranging system. The NAVAIR team, led by Lt. Jim Bolin, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 IEER project officer, consisted of active-duty military from VX-20, civil service engineers and contractor employees from Veridian and Titan.

The IEER system is an improved multi-static active sensor which employs a new sonobuoy coupled with improved processing algorithms to extend the EER deep-water search capability into the shallow waters of the littoral. The IEER is currently undergoing software qualification testing leading up to a transition to the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, for an operational assessment. Fleet release of IEER is scheduled next year following a successful operational evaluation.

The IEER system was developed by the PEO(A) for Antisubmarine Warfare, Air Assault, and Special Missions, PMA-264, in response to the fleet need for a large-area search capability against small submarines operating in littoral waters. The system combines a new sensor, the AN/SSQ-101 Air Deployed Active Receiver sonobuoy with improved software in the P-3C UIII Anti-surface Warfare Improvement aircraft.

The ADAR sonobuoy employs a multi-element planar hydrophone array to improve detection in shallow littoral waters. This improved sensor, when coupled with AIP's powerful acoustic post-processor, the USQ-78A, will provide Maritime ASW aircrews with the tools necessary to effectively prosecute the difficult task of ASW search in littoral waters.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Aviation News - US visitors to the UK - Date Added: 02 July 2003..." http://www.keypublishing.com/news/default.asp?new_type=Military&offset=5 [05FEB2004]

US visitors to the UK
Date Added: 02 July 2003

RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk hosted a handful of notable transient visitors during June. A US Navy E-2C from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) based at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland arrived on June 12 en route to the 45th Paris airshow at Le Bourget. One of the two US Air Force OC-135B 'Open Skies' aircraft arrived for an overnight stop on June 21, followed by the more notable 'Speckled Trout' C-135C from the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, California on June 23. Unusually, for Mildenhall, two H-60s made appearances during the month. A US Army Europe UH-60L arrived on June 12 for an exercise in the local Stanford Army Training Area whilst a US Navy SH-60B from HSL-46 'Grandmasters' based at NS Mayport, Florida arrived on June 30.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Tester - November 20, 2003 - VX-20 chief test pilot relieves squadron's CO today..." http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/8_46/local_news/26321-1.html [05FEB2004]

November 20, 2003
VX-20 chief test pilot relieves squadron's CO today

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20's chief test pilot, Cmdr. Shane G. Gahagan, will relieve Capt. Randal Black today as the squadron's commanding officer at a 10 a.m. ceremony in Hangar 306.

Black will move over to the V-22 program office as weapons system integration lead.

Gahagan, a 1991 graduate of U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, was the E-2C project officer here before earning a master's degree in aviations systems and reporting as flag lieutenant, aide to the commander at NAWCAD from 1994 to 1995.

He was selected as an aerospace engineering duty officer to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., where he received a master's in aeronautical engineering.

A native of Raleigh, N.C, Gahagan graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering in 1985.

He was commissioned in the United States Navy in 1986 at Aviation Officer Candidate School, Pensacola, Fla. He enrolled in flight training in Pensacola and was designated a Naval Flight Officer from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 110, Miramar, Calif., in 1987.

His first assignment was with the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115 "Liberty Bells" at Atsugi, Japan, where he made deployments aboard the USS Midway (CV 41) to the Sea of Japan, South China Sea and Indian Ocean, serving as avionics division officer and assistant maintenance officer.

In June 1990, he reported back to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 110, to the E-2C Fleet Replacement Squadron, Miramar, where he served as a flight instructor and legal officer.

In the summer of 1991, Gahagan was selected to the TPS here. After graduation with Class 101, he reported as the E-2C project officer, Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate, Naval Air Test Center, here where he conducted developmental flight testing of E-2C mission systems. He earned a masters of science degree in aviations systems from the University of Tennessee during this tour. In April 1994, Gahagan reported as flag lieutenant, aide to the commander, Naval Warfare Center Aircraft Division here, where he served until July 1995.

In the spring of 1995, Gahagan was selected as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer and reported to the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif., receiving a masters of science degree in aeronautical engineering in June 1997. In July 1997, he reported to Commander, Naval Air Forces, United States Pacific Fleet, and served as E-2C/C-2 Class Desk Officer until January 2000. During this tour, he graduated from the Naval War College Non-resident Seminar Program. He then reported to the AV-8B Program Office (PMA-257), serving as the system development integrated program team lead for several aircraft system upgrade programs until June 2002. In June 2002, Gahagan was selected as chief test pilot for VX-20.

Gahagan is a graduate of the Defense Systems Management College Advanced Program Management Course. His decorations include the two Meritorious Service medals and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...CNO Safety Award Goes to VX-20 - Story Number: navair030707-01 - 7/7/2003 - By Brian Seraile, NAVAIR Patuxent River Public Affairs Office..." http://www.news.navy.mil/search/displaybbs.asp?bbs_id=647&cat=5 [05FEB2004]

CNO Safety Award Goes to VX-20
Story Number: navair030707-01
By Brian Seraile, NAVAIR Patuxent River Public Affairs Office

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 has received the CNO safety award for the command's Class A Mishap-free record in 2002.

A Class "A" Mishap is one in which damage to property, aircraft or UAV exceeds $1 million. It also includes if an aircraft is destroyed or missing or any fatality or permanent disability results from the direct involvement of a naval aircraft or UAV. Loss of a UAV is not a Class A unless the cost is $1 million or more.

The command's safety goal of 100 percent mishap-free ground and flight operations was achieved during more than 4,210 flight hours.

Cmdr. Randal Black, VX-20 commanding officer, said he was proud of the award but noted that maintaining a safety record is a "never ending" task.

"The team has performed well in the past and we hope to continue in the future," he said. "Your past is not a guarantee of future."

VX-20 logged more than 126,795 maintenance man-hours and completed more than 14,315 maintenance repair actions on 25 permanently assigned and numerous transient aircraft.

Additionally, squadron members conducted more than 20,840 hours of ground tests and obtained 397 command-level flight clearances (airworthiness certifications to aircraft modifications), as well as 103 NAVAIR approved flight clearances.

These statistics alone do not convey the test complexities and risks that were skillfully managed and executed by the professional men and women of VX-20.

Test teams supported the fleet warfighting efforts by safely and successfully conducting tests such as the live Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response and Laser Maverick missile testing, as well as research, development, test and evaluation known hazardous Category D NP2000 propeller testing.

VX-20 continued to safely execute its mission of "Full Spectrum Flight Test for the Fleet" with an aircraft inventory that exceeds $800 million and includes eight different type aircraft. This collection of carrier- and land-based Navy and Marine Corps aircraft ranged from the Navy's smallest aircraft, the T-34C Mentor, to the Navy's largest, the E-6B Mercury.

VX-20 safely conducted flight testing locally, at sea aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and throughout the world in countries including Italy, England and Iceland.

NAVAIR provides advanced warfare technologies through the efforts of a seamless, integrated, worldwide network of aviation technology experts. From aircraft and weapons development to carrier launch and recovery, from sensors to real-time communications to precision targeting, from aircraft and weapons sustainment to state-of-the-art training, NAVAIR provides dominant combat effects and matchless capabilities to the American warfighter.

Circa 2002

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "..April 12, 2002 - P-3 BMUP earns Force award - by Nick Minecci - STAFF WRITER..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_14/local_news/15698-1.html [15DEC2005]

The Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron P-3 Block Modification Upgrade Program team earned the Force Region Test Team of the Quarter Award for the second quarter of FY02.

The award is presented quarterly to the test team in the Force Region that exhibits excellence in test planning, execution and reporting, support of NAVAIR goals and contributions to Naval Aviation.

"This was earned for recent contributions to the P-3 BMUP test effort, including the completion of a yearlong flight test program, during which the team work closely with 20 different NAVAIR competencies," said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Dillon, BMUP project officer.

"During this test effort, the team executed 111 hours of flight test and over 1,000 hours of lab and ground test," said Dillon.

"The team's test data resulted in significant improvements to the aircraft's newly installed data processing system, acoustic sensor system, and flight display system and associated software program.

"After completion of testing, the BMUP aircraft was delivered to Patrol Squadron 66, resulting in a substantial improvement in the fleet's airborne anti-submarine warfare capability." Dillon added.

When they were informed of the award, Dillon said the 21 members of the team were pleased to be recognized for a year of hard work.

"It is definitely good to be selected and recognized for the work that the team is doing," he said.

On March 21, the team received a team plaque, individual team members received certificates, and the team name was added to a permanent award board.

Previous teams who have earned the award are the P-3 CNS/ATM Upgrade Test Team, the S-3B DFDC/CAINS II Test Team, The C-2 Avionics Upgrade Test Team, and the S-3B Maverick Plus System Test Team.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "..May 9, 2002 - Squadrons redesignated - by Nick Minecci - STAFF WRITER..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_18/local_news/16476-1.html [14DEC2005]

Effective May 1, NAVAIR squadrons received new activity titles, giving numbers to the only squadrons in the Navy without them.

The new designations will help align the command better with fleet customers, as well as increasing the visibility of the squadrons. The request for redesignation was initiated last August, and approved May 1, 2002.

The redesignation came about as a result of an initiative of the Warfighter Focus Group, according to Capt. Steven Eastburg, commander of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20. VX-20 was formally called Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron.

"The redesignations will give us better recognition in the fleet," he said. "People here are already using the new designation daily in many facets of their work," Eastburg added.

"This dovetails with the new logos and the branding initiative so the warfighters -- the Sailors and Marines in the fleet -- can identify us better," said Lt. Col. Joe Mortensen, commander of VX-23, formerly Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron.

"When people in the fleet talk about 'strike' many think of Fallon, Nev. and 'Strike U' (Naval Strike Air Warfare Center), so from a fleet perspective this should help us with identification," Mortensen said.

"Our sailors and Marines are pumped over the new designations," said. Lt. Col. Lash L'Heureux, commander HX-21, formerly Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron.

"I elected to retain out traditional "Rotary Wing" insignia design as we incorporate the designation on our squadron patch. NAVAIR organizations have a reputation for doing things the right way, and I didn't want to lose the connection to engineering excellence as we align to the warfighter," he said.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraPhoto by Vicky Falcón "...April 12, 2002 - Sailor 'play' makes progress for P-3 family - by Vicky Falcón - NAVAIR PUBLIC AFFAIRS..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_14/local_news/15706-1.html [14DEC2005]

Photograph Caption: Inspection: AT1(AW/NAC) Allen Claflin inspects the nose wheel-well as part of pre-flight testing on a P-3 Orion.

AT1(AW/NAC) Allen Claflin is a boy at heart. He loves to ride bikes and practice Tae Kwon Do with his two daughters, and admits to spending a lot of his free time on Play Station II.

But Claflin also loves working for NAVAIR.

"I was told this was where all the new 'toys' get played with first," he said. "And I wanted to play!"

Acting as a liaison between the contractor and government, Claflin and his teammates at NAVAIR's Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron here conduct developmental testing of brand new products for the P-3 Orion platform.

"We act as customer representatives," he said, "improving communications, enhancing radar and ensuring a better product for the fleet."

A native of Whitewright, Texas, Claflin says even as a small child he knew he would someday be in the military.

"There was never any question," he said, "and I knew I wanted to work on aircraft."

Claflin has a diverse Navy background that started with Aviation Electronics A-school in Tennessee, and then Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department experience at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., where he worked in helicopter squadron maintenance.

It also includes fleet experience on the USS Shiloh in the Persian Gulf with Light Anti-Submarine Helicopter Squadron 49. Claflin says he is always looking to learn something new, which is why he chose to attend Aircrew School in Pensacola, Fla., after re-enlistment.

"I always wanted to fly," he said . . . and now he does.

"My broad base of knowledge is what brought me to NAVAIR," Claflin said. "I was recruited into this office after they looked at my record."

Now Claflin is part of an expert team testing and evaluating aircraft and related systems in support of their delivery to the fleet. His squadron is responsible for evaluating aircraft, systems, avionics and software for the fixed-wing antisubmarine, airborne early warning, intelligence collection, command and control, tanker, COD, trainer, utility and support aircraft.

"Everyone I work with is 110 percent committed to the success of the fleet," he said. "For the fleet to succeed, they need the best possible product. I pinpoint fleet problems [with P-3 equipment] and better identify ways to solve those problems."

Claflin heads back to the fleet next January, and is anxious to share his acquired experiences and knowledge with his shipmates.

Describing himself as the "tip of the spear," Claflin says he is a direct representative of NAVAIR.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about how business is done here," he said. "NAVAIR is a very complex machine, but ultimately it does what it's supposed to do and I now understand a lot more about it."

And about the toys?

"I have one of the coolest jobs," he said. "I have been able to see and do things that I know make a difference - and I have a lot of fun doing it."

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...June 27, 2002 - Black to become VX-20 commanding officer..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_25/local_news/17724-1.html [13DEC2005]

Commander Randal Black will become VX-20 commanding officer tomorrow relieving Capt. Steven Eastburg at a 10 a.m. change of command ceremony.

The ceremony will take place at the VX-20 Hangar.

Black graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in May 1983 with a bachelor's of science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Following commissioning, he attended flight training in NAS Pensacola, Florida and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, earning his wings from VT-28 in March 1985.

Black attended P-3 Fleet Replacement Squadron training with Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30) in NAS Jacksonville, Florida and remained in NAS Jacksonville, Florida for his follow-on assignment to the War Eagles of VP-16.

While attached to VP-16, Black deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily and NAS Bermuda and conducted detached operations in Iceland, Scotland, Central Europe, South and Central America, the Azores and Eastern Mediterranean.

In the summer of 1989, Black was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School here.

Upon graduation with Class 97, he reported to the Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate as a P-3 project officer. He was involved with P-3 avionics, ordnance and aircrew systems projects and was the primary project officer responsible for T-34C training and flight test.

He earned a master's of science degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee during this tour. In the fall of 1992, he reported to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Sea Duty Component, Dallas, Texas, and served as a Special Projects Officer.

Black was selected as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer in the fall of 1994 and reported to NAVAIR, Crystal City, Va., as the AEDO Community Manager and Total Force Manpower Manager.

During this tour, he worked jointly with the Bureau of Naval Personnel to implement the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act within NAVAIR for all military personnel.

In November 1997, Black was assigned to the T-45/T-6A Program Office (PMA-273) and served as the Deputy Director for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System Integrated Test Team, responsible for the development and qualification of the T-6A aircraft.

He served as the lead Navy representative on the U.S. Air Force-led program and had the privilege of teaming with the 418th Test Squadron, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for this effort. He reported to the Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron in November 2000, where he served as the chief test pilot prior to assuming command.

Black has more than 3,700 hours in over 30 makes and models of fixed and rotary wing aircraft. His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation and Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Black is married to the former Jill Panizzi of Haysville, Kan., and they have two children: Erin and Tanner.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraPhoto by ADC(AW/NAC) Richard Berry "...July 18, 2002 - Pax Sailor living American dream - Excited about what future holds; long-term goal to become officer - Article written by Nick Minecci..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_28/features/18202-1.html [13DEC2005]

Photograph Caption: Check it out: AW2(AW) Eddie Gomez performs a pre-flight check on a P-3C.

Soaring above in places like Maine or Keflavik, Iceland, in a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion were not the dreams that filled the mind of AW2(AW) Eddie Gomez growing up.

His mind was occupied with other details, like staying alive, reaching the United States and reuniting with his family.

Born 30 years ago in Managua, Nicaragua, Gomez not only escaped the repression of the civil war that tore apart his native country, but also earned his U.S. citizenship and excelled in the Navy, a job he never saw himself doing.

"I never thought I would be in the military period. I never had any aspiration to be in the military," he said.

The early memories of Nicaragua are pleasant, and Gomez, who is stationed here as a project specialist in the VX-20 Orion Test team, said he still looks back fondly on the years before the civil war.

"I think the greatest thing about human beings is our memories, we get to remember everything from our childhood and growing up ... at first from what I remember, we had everything, and there was a great influence from the United States," he said. "Whatever you could find in the States you could find there," he added.

In 1979 the reign of the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua ended when the Sandinista National Liberation Front led a coup after conducting a guerilla war for over a decade. The Sandinistas established Communist dictatorship after forcing Anastasio Somoza Debayle to leave the country.

Relations between the U.S. and Nicaragua deteriorated as the FSLN nationalized private industries, confiscated private property, supported other Communist guerilla movements in Central America and worked with international terrorists.

The United States canceled aid to Nicaragua, and the Reagan administration provided assistance to the Nicaraguan Resistance, known as the Contras.

"Once the revolution hit, Communism took over and it was depression and no freedom," Gomez said.

Economic worries were not the only thing the family had to worry about, Gomez said. The civil war waged, sometimes right on his own street, with bullets and rockets sometimes crashing into his home.

"I was about 7 years old and I remember there was an open field in front [of our house], and the Sandinistas and Contras were actually shooting across the field at each other," he said.

"Once, we were all standing in the back [of the house] in my grandmother's room, and a rocket came through. At the time what we had done was put mattresses with cinder blocks [across] the room so we just crawl under them, and the rocket came in and put a six-foot hole in the wall. The only person hurt was my grandmother, she was burned from the debris," he said.

"You can actually go back to the house today and see bullet holes in some of the walls from it," said Gomez, who still tries to return to his native country yearly, to see family.

Following the rocket attack, Gomez said his family moved to the country to escape the fighting, returning to Managua when the fighting died down.

In 1980, his mother and older sister obtained a visa and moved to the United States; Gomez stayed with his father in Nicaragua.

School was a mixture of education and revolutionary indoctrination, Gomez said, with courses that included how to launch a grenade and take a rifle apart, and classes on the evils of the United States.

"I never really paid attention to it, I just wanted to be a kid; I just shut it out and never really paid attention to what they said. It was hard though," he said.

Finally, March 12, 1984, Gomez saw a dream become reality when he was able to obtain a visa and was reunited with his mother and sister in the U.S.

"It was my first time ever being on a plane, and it was a shock ... you never forget the first time you take off and land, the hitting of the wheels and everything lurching forward, with people clapping. They do that on international flights, don't ask me why. They're glad we landed safe I guess," he said laughing.

Arriving in Los Angeles was an experience in culture shock for Gomez, with the buildings and highways. School was not a bad experience for him, Gomez said, because he had received English instruction during private schooling in Nicaragua.

"I actually went to school in Van Nuys, Calif., and I didn't talk much though, because I didn't want to be made fun of. I had friends there that spoke Spanish and I would talk to them in Spanish and they would answer me in English," he said.

In 1986 Gomez moved again when his stepfather got a job in West Palm Beach, Fla. and Gomez was once again starting a new life and making new friends.

"It was a totally different culture in Florida, going from Latin American communities to a more Mexican, more passionate ... what I call spicy, the island, South American people ... Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans," he said.

"They spoke a different style of Spanish. I guess the best way to put it is people in the U.S. speaking English in the South and the others speaking it in the North, it's one common language divided by an accent and slang," he said.

"I brought with me my western accent- speaking Spanish, so I had to learn East Coast slang. I can communicate anywhere, because of what I have been through. I believe you could send me to any hole in the Earth and I could adapt," he said with a smile.

The new culture in Florida did not bother Gomez as much as the humidity, and he said that it was like leaving an oasis and moving to a swamp. Adding to his angst was the prospect of starting high school.

Since he was still having difficulty with English, Gomez made the decision to speak only English, no Spanish. He said that instead of laughing at errors, his friends would correct his English, helping him learn the language.

The arrival of June 6, 1990, was cause for celebration for Gomez and his family; he would be the first member of the family to graduate high school in the United States. "I wished I had put as much effort into my schoolwork as I had playing soccer, and I really did not know what I wanted to do next," Gomez said.

After deciding he was not going to go to college, Gomez worked for two years at a local golf course, and as the night manager for a hotel. Then in December 1992 Gomez said he woke up and looked in the mirror thinking, "What are you doing with your life? Do you want to spend the rest of your life working for minimum wage? What happened to your dreams of becoming someone people will have respect for?"

"I went to the local recruiter. I wasn't interested in the Army, so I went into the Air Force recruiter. He told me that if I took the ASVAB, then I would automatically be enlisted with them. I told him I was young, maybe naive, but not that stupid," Gomez said, laughing at the memory.

Walking to the Navy recruiter next door, Gomez told the Sailor to save the advertisement speech, just give it to him straight. The recruiter laughed and had him watch a video. "Watching that video I fell in love with airplanes and aircraft carriers," he said. Gomez told the recruiter he wanted to spend Christmas with his family, but he could leave anytime after that.

On Dec. 30, 1992, Gomez lifted his right hand and took the oath of enlistment into the United States Navy, and on Feb. 16 started his career at boot camp in Orlando, Fla., for what he called "three months of hell."

Following boot camp Gomez took his first flight across the country, reporting to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, assigned to VA-128 "Golden Intruders," working on what he called "the ugliest aircraft I had ever seen, the A-6E Intruder."

Culture shock hit again as soon as he arrived at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, Gomez said, because "I was jetlagged, the sun was still up and it was 9:30 p.m., and I was like, 'Where did they send me?' I hated it," he said.

It was there that Gomez saw his first snowfall, a startling sight to the Central American native. "It was awesome; my buddy and I were going to the store. He was from [Las Vegas] and neither one of us had seen snow before, so we just stood there and let the flakes hit us," he said.

Unhappy he had not been outside the U.S. yet, Gomez volunteered for a cruise with VA-52 aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 64). He said life on the carrier was not as bad as everyone had told him, and he was happy to see the Far East.

When he returned from the cruise in December 1994, Gomez extended in the Navy and worked on one of the biggest events in his life, becoming a U.S. citizen.

"I got a book with about 500 questions in it to study about the history of the country, and I was like 'this is interesting!'" he said.

"I finally met with a woman one-on-one and she asked me 15 questions, and I got 14 out of 15 right, then a test to check my English and a background check. When everything checked out, I raised my hand with a room full of others and became an American citizen," he said with pride.

Having served at NAS Jacksonville with VP-30 and at NAS Brunswick, Maine with VP-26 before reporting here, Gomez said he is excited about what his future holds. He has earned an associate's degree, and is continuing his education.

Gomez is also active in the community, coaching fifth and sixth grade soccer.

"Petty Officer Gomez coached my son's soccer team, and when I learned about him I was amazed by his story," said Capt. Steve Eastburg, former VX-20 commanding officer.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, and I think he is going to go far in the Navy. He has done very well in a challenging rating, and one that is tough to get promoted in. He is really a great guy," Eastburg added.

Gomez said his short-term career goal is to make first class, and his long-term goal is to retire as an officer.

"I live by some advice my best friend's mom once gave me. She said, 'Never quit; always do your best; always be proud of what you do and who you are.' That was great advice," Gomez said.

(Article written by Nick Minecci)

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraPhoto by ADC Richard Berry "...May 23, 2002 - VX-20 unveiling..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_20/local_news/16866-1.html [13DEC2005]

The new VX-20 patch is unveiled for the squadron's members as part of the May 17 squadron safety standdown at the base theater. The new patch is part of the squadron redesignation, which took effect May 1.

The VX-20 insignia is broken into the following symbolic parts:

In the foreground, the sword retains the proud heritage of the Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron. The grasping hand symbolizes strength and courage. The single ray of light is expanded by the sword, which represents VX-20, into a multi-colored spectrum of light that is transformed into the shape of an aircraft platform. This symbolizes the technology transformation that is undertaken at VX-20 to bring new innovations to the Fleet Warfighter. The lightning bolt represents the harnessing of technology and information necessary for the Warfighter to possess superiority during operations across the spectrum of conflict. Finally, the earth in the background symbolizes the global reach of our efforts.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...October 24, 2002 - VX-20 Sailor goes Army - by Brian Seraile - PUBLIC AFFAIRS..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_42/features/19903-1.html [13DEC2005]

The correct answer to a trivia question helped seal the deal for a Sailor who will soon go from being VX-20's lead petty officer to an Army sergeant.

AW2 Theodore James Watkins, the only Sailor out of several civilian applicants who were interviewed one day last July for the Army Warrant Officer program, was asked whether he knew why Navy dress blue shirts have the flap in back.

"When the Navy was allowed longer hair, the flap kept the grease off the back of their shirts," Watkins responded.

Now Watkins is going to need to start brushing up on Army trivia for when he reports to Fort Rucker, Ala., in January.

Watkins, 26, said he applied to be an Army warrant officer because he has wanted to fly since he joined the Navy.

"I've been flying as an aircrewmen and I wanted to be in control of the plane," Watkins said. "I got tired of sitting in the back, I guess you could say."

Watkins hopes to fly an attack helicopter like the Apache.

"I don't want to get stuck in a Chinook," he said.

Army warrant officers are highly specialized experts and trainers, who, by gaining progressive levels of expertise and leadership, operate, maintain, administer, and manage the Army's equipment, support activities, or technical systems for an entire career.

When promoted to Chief Warrant Officer Two, warrant officers are commissioned by the president and have the same legal status as their traditional commissioned officer counterparts.

However, warrant officers remain single-specialty officers whose career track is oriented towards progressing within their career field rather than focusing on increased levels of command and staff duty positions.

Watkins' colleagues at VX-20 are delighted that he has earned a spot in the warrant officer program.

"It's a program that so many people apply to, but very few actually get selected," said VX-20 public affairs officer AMC(AW/SW) Christopher Carlson. "We're all proud he got selected."

Watkins also has the distinction of being one of the relatively few people outside of the Army who apply.

"On the average, about 10 percent of our applications come from sister services," said Garett Smiley, a warrant officer recruiter for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky.

Smiley also said the program is competitive and that Army officials are working to encourage more from the other three services to apply.

"It's a big move, obviously, from doing what I am now to flying a helicopter," Watkins said.

Currently Watkins coordinates VX-20's flight schedules for eight different platforms and is responsible for 150 project specialists and 160 aircrew personnel flight records and currencies.

He will go to warrant officer candidate school for six weeks starting in January and then spend about 32 weeks in flight school.

Before reporting to Fort Rucker, Watkins will get a conditional release from the Navy until his is discharged and enlists in the Army.

Watkins said he had mixed emotions when he learned he had been accepted into the program.

"I was pretty excited and nervous at the same time," he said.

Now he is looking forward to a new beginning.

"It's a huge responsibility," Watkins said "But I'm ready to live up to it."

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Tester - December 19, 2002 - VX-20 Marine pilot wins leadership award - by Brian Seraile - PUBLIC AFFAIRS..." http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/7_49/features/20801-1.html [05FEB2004]

December 19, 2002
VX-20 Marine pilot wins leadership award
by Brian Seraile

Marine Maj. John Albers is the lead developmental test pilot and project officer for the C/KC-130J Hercules aircraft, one of DoD's and the Marine Corps' most highly visible projects.

During evenings and weekends he teaches Sunday School to adults, Bible study to children and leads a weekly Bible study for officers and government civilians.

His speaking and leadership skills have earned him two invitations to speak to the Texas Governor's Honor Guard.

Those accomplishments during and after work are among the reasons he recently received the Admiral Merlin O'Neill Officer of the Year Award.

The Southern Maryland Chapter of the Retired Officers Association established the award in 1981 to recognize officers for superior performance and leadership. Volunteer activities and community service are also factors in the selection process.

In his nomination, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Randal Black wrote that Albers represents the "ideal personification" of a career military officer and gentleman.

"He has no equals among his peers in professional knowledge, dedication and achievement and is a role model for junior and mid-grad Navy and Marine Corps officers within this command," Black wrote.

Black also wrote that Albers has made "significant contributions to the community and sets high personal standards that our youth can proudly emulate."

Albers, 34, says he would not have gotten the award without the help of those with him.

"Obviously my off-duty pursuits are mine and my family's but my accomplishments here at work in large part [are due to] the people I get to work with," Albers said. "A leader is only as good as the people around him. You can have a great team with great people who won't succeed, but you'll never have a great team if you don't have good people around you."

The married father of a daughter, 6, and two sons, a 4-year-old and a 16-month-old, is a 2000 graduate of U.S. Navy Test Pilot School Class 117.

He decided to become a pilot because of his stepfather.

"My stepdad was a career Air Force guy, so I grew up looking at airplanes," Albers said. "I always wanted to be a pilot from the time I was about 9 years old."

Working on the KC-130J has been especially rewarding.

"I'm fortunate to be able to influence a lot and have a lot of say on this new airplane and how it goes to the fleet to be used, so there is a lot of responsibility with that," he said. "We've got a great team of people here I get to work with."

The KC-130J tanker aircraft here have been testing a new, all-digital, electrically-driven air refueling pod aboard the tankers that will replace the old, hydraulically-operated hose systems. Lockheed started testing the new pod in 1999, after three years of development, and the pod has gone through several iterations of testing here.

The KC-130J can carry nearly 41 tons of fuel and can refuel two aircraft simultaneously, at airpeeds of about 185 knots to 250, about 15 to 20 knots faster than earlier tankers.

Over the past several months, Lockheed has run a full-page color advertisement in the Tester, showing two of VX-20s five KC-130Js in flight; Albers was piloting one of the two planes, number 739, in that photo.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VX-20 Marine Pilot Wins Leadership Award - Story Number: navair021226-01 - 12/26/2002 - By Brian Seraille..." http://www.news.navy.mil/search/displaybbs.asp?bbs_id=404&cat=5 [05FEB2004]

VX-20 Marine Pilot Wins Leadership Award
Story Number: navair021226-01
By Brian Seraille

Marine Corps Maj. John Albers is the lead developmental test pilot and project officer for the C/KC-130J Hercules aircraft, one of DoD's and the Marine Corps' most highly visible projects.

During evenings and weekends he teaches Sunday School to adults, Bible study to children and leads a weekly Bible study for officers and government civilians.

His speaking and leadership skills have earned him two invitations to speak to the Texas Governor's Honor Guard.

Those accomplishments during and after work are among the reasons he recently received the Admiral Merlin O'Neill Officer of the Year Award.

The Southern Maryland Chapter of the Retired Officers Association established the award in 1981 to recognize officers for superior performance and leadership. Volunteer activities and community service are also factors in the selection process.

In his nomination, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Randal Black wrote that Albers represents the "ideal personification" of a career military officer and gentleman.

"He has no equals among his peers in professional knowledge, dedication and achievement and is a role model for junior and mid-grade Navy and Marine Corps officers within this command," Black wrote.

Black also wrote that Albers has made "significant contributions to the community and sets high personal standards that our youth can proudly emulate."

Albers, 34, says he would not have gotten the award without the help of those with him.

"Obviously my off-duty pursuits are mine and my family's but my accomplishments here at work in large part [are due to] the people I get to work with," Albers said. "A leader is only as good as the people around him. You can have a great team with great people who won't succeed, but you'll never have a great team if you don't have good people around you."

The married father of a daughter, 6, and two sons, a 4-year-old and a 16-month-old, is a 2000 graduate of U.S. Navy Test Pilot School Class 117.

He decided to become a pilot because of his stepfather.

"My stepdad was a career Air Force guy, so I grew up looking at airplanes," Albers said. "I always wanted to be a pilot from the time I was about 9 years old."

Working on the KC-130J project has been especially rewarding.

"I'm fortunate to be able to influence a lot and have a lot of say on this new airplane and how it goes to the fleet to be used, so there is a lot of responsibility with that," he said. "We've got a great team of people here I get to work with."

The KC-130J tanker aircraft here have been testing a new, all-digital, electrically-driven air refueling pod aboard the tankers that will replace the old, hydraulically-operated hose systems. Lockheed started testing the new pod in 1999, after three years of development, and the pod has gone through several iterations of testing here.

The KC-130J can carry nearly 41 tons of fuel and can refuel two aircraft simultaneously, at airpeeds of about 185 knots to 250, about 15 to 20 knots faster than earlier tankers.

Circa 2001

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Technician goes above and beyond - March 1, 2001..." WebSite: DC Military - Tester http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/tester/6_09/local_news/5331-1.html [12DEC2005]

"We support the fleet." It's a motto that most of us take for granted. Not so for AT1(AW/NAC) Allen Claflin of Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron Orion Test Team Anti-surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) Projects Office.

Claflin is currently accompanying VP-26, homeport NAS Brunswick, Maine, on its six-month deployment to NAS Sigonella, Sicily. Recent fleet manpower shortages in the in-flight technician community required VP-26 to send out the call for volunteers to assist them on their operational deployment cycle this year.

Cmdr. Robert Adrion, VP-26's commanding officer, welcomes Claflin with open arms. "His in-depth knowledge of AIP systems will bring a lot to the fight during our deployment to the Mediterranean area of responsibility," Adrion said.

Claflin is quoted as saying "Having a Force representative on deployment with an operational squadron is a win-win for us at Force, the deploying squadron and the fleet. We at the AIP Program office will be able to gather raw data on how our AIP equipment is performing under operational conditions."

The Anti-surface Warfare Improvement Program is the latest in avionics improvements for the venerable P-3 Orion. The communications, surveillance and data handling capability of AIP allows the P-3 to better integrate with other air, ground and surface units. Many of these systems have already been used in support of various missions around the globe. Currently, VP-26 is performing traditional maritime fleet support in the Adriatic and Mediterranean as well as supporting operations Joint Guardian over Kosovo and Determined Forge over Bosnia, all with "AIP Onboard."

In the months to come, Claflin will be flying with VP-26's Combat Aircrew 11. Having done a previous Mediterranean deployment with the "Mad Foxes" of VP-5 in 1998-99 and returning again in 1999 to augment VP-10 during the Kosovo Air Campaign, Claflin not only brings operational experience, but also a wealth of knowledge and technical ability in dealing with the latest in AIP systems. During his current assignment to the AIP Projects Office, Claflin has worked on some of the latest in avionics technology as well as assisting with the testing and delivery of AIP production aircraft to a number of fleet squadrons.

(Submitted by Force)

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: FATS Camera "...A flight test milestone of sorts will occur on 25 Oct @ 1400 when Force turns over the first and oldest existing P-3 to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in a ceremony to be held here at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. BuNo 148883 has served the Navy admirably in recent years as an S&T airborne test bed, initially up in Warminster and in recent years here at Force. I cordially invite you to attend this ceremony. Details are provided in the attached flyer. V/R, Steve. CAPT Steve Eastburg, Commanding Officer, Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron..." Contributed by Taylor, Christopher K (ISI) TaylorCK@navair.navy.mil [22OCT2001]

Circa 1998

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...FORCE Trains Reservists to Fire Maverick...."

FORCE Trains Reservists to Fire Maverick
By Eddie C. Riley
Senior Writer

About 35 reservists trained with the Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron here March 23-26, 1998 on employing the Maverick missile from the P-3 Orion.

Force received the request from the commander of Reserve Patrol Wing Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., to train two of the command's Reserve P-3 squadrons. Aircrew members and ordnancemen from Patrol Squadron Sixty-Four (VP-64), Naval Air Station (NAS) Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and VP-92, NAS Brunswick, Maine, came to Pax River to learn how to load the weapon and to accurately fire it on target.

Neither squadron owns a P-3 capable of carrying the missile, but they are currently considering having their aircraft modified to do so, said Cmdr. Chris Willy, Reserve liaison officer at Force and the coordinator of the training. "The level of training required as demonstrated during the training at Pax will help them determine if and when they will do the modifications," he added. Only 19 out of 241 P-3s in the fleet currently have the Maverick capability; Force has one of them.

The reservists arrived on a Monday for the four days of training. The first day was spent planning and familiarizing the trainees with their tasks. The next day, they went through ground training learning the components of the Captive Air Training Missile (CATM), a dummy missile with simulation capabilities used to familiarize the trainees with loading and locking the weapon on target. That Wednesday, the ordnancemen actually got to load the CATM, and the aircrew flew with the CATM and locked it on target. By the final day, the reservists were ready for the real thing: live fire. However, they still had a support system in place to ensure they had everything needed to make successful hits.

The ordnancemen loaded two live Maverick missiles on the Force P-3. Technical expert Phil Crain was on sight to answer any questions. He works at Patrol Wing 5 at NAS Brunswick, Maine. "Phil Crain is the guy with the most experience launching the Maverick from the P-3," Willy said.

Willy, the mission commander, and Lt. Mark Hunt, the aircraft commander, escorted the VP-64 and VP-92 aircrews up to their launching area.

"As aircraft commander, I was responsible for the conduct of the exercise. I ensured that all the safety precautions and procedures associated with the mission shoot were in accordance with designated procedures," Hunt said. "And, I coordinated with the range safety aircraft to ensure that everything flowed smoothly and did my best to make sure their job of shooting the missile was as easy as possible." As pilot, Hunt freed up the reservist co-pilot from flying so he could track and fire on the target. A second reservist sat in the tactical coordinator seat, the other firing position. br>
The range safety aircraft, a P-3 from VP-92, followed the armed aircraft to coordinate the missile firing with the range control officer and target control boat. It also carried the Reserve Patrol Wing Atlantic commander and both squadron commanders.

In the bay below, Fleet Composite Squadron Six (VC-6) towed out the targets, two 28-foot catamarans with charcoal pots on board to simulate the heat-generating engines that the missiles seek and lock onto.

Now everything was set. There were two missiles, two targets and two Reserve crews. "After two perfect practice runs, they locked the Maverick missiles on the first of the targets and blew it to smithereens. Boiling water and toothpicks were pretty much what was left," Willy said about the VP-92 delivery. The VP-64 aircrew repeated the precision hit on the second target.

"It was an unqualified success. The results could not have been better. The Reserve Wing commander was flying in the range safety aircraft and he was very pleased. It couldn't have gone smoother.

"Both squadron commanders got to see his aircrews' tactical proficiency with the weapon. They got to the culmination of the week-long training. I think they gained a real appreciation for the technical employment of the missile system and the end result with live fire and two direct hits," Willy added. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division supported the training with funds for flight hours and missile handling charges.

The Maverick is an air-to-surface tactical missile designed for close air support, interdiction and defense suppression. It is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities. It has a larger (300-pound) penetrating warhead vice the 125-pound shaped charge missile used by Marines and Air Force, plus an infrared guidance system optimized for ship tracking. http://corp-nt20.nawcad.navy.mil/nawcad/focus/military.html

Circa 1975 - 2006

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VX-20 - General History..." WebSite: Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO ZERO http://force.navair.navy.mil/Welcome.htm [03OCT2006]

Photo of T-34C Mentor and PBY Catalina in Flight

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO ZERO can trace its roots all the way to the founding of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Recognizing the need for consolidation of the Navy's flight test efforts, NAS Patuxent River was established on April 1, 1943, due to its proximity to the coast, freedom from air traffic congestion, and isolation for testing of classified projects. On June 16, 1945, the Navy officially designated the Naval Air Test Center.

In April, 1975, after 30 years of operations at Patuxent River, the Flight Test Division, Weapons Test Division, Service Test Division, and Naval Test Pilot School reorganized under the Naval Air Test Center into the Antisubmarine Aircraft Test Directorate, Strike Aircraft Test Directorate, Rotary Aircraft Test Directorate, and Naval Test Pilot School.

Photo of B-25 and T-34 Mentor in FlightUnder the command of Officer-in-Charge CAPT John A. Dunaway, Antisubmarine Aircraft Test Directorate was tasked to support the fleet through the flight test and evaluation of aircraft systems for the VP, VS, VAW, VQ, VR, and VT communities. In order to more closely identify itself with the communities to which it was responsible, the directorate was renamed Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate in June 1986. In May 1995, the organization officially became a squadron and was renamed Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron under the command of CAPT Stuart A. Ashton.  In order to more closely align itself with the squadrons it serves, in May 2002, under the command of CAPT Steven R. Eastburg, the squadron was redesignated Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO ZERO.


Photo of P-3 Orion in FlightSince the earliest days of its inception, VX-20 has been instrumental in the advancement of aircraft technology and its integration into fleet assets. These new capabilities delivered to the fleet mean greater safety for aircrews and enhanced mission effectiveness. VX-20 has been responsible for the test and evaluation of completely new aircraft prior to their introduction to the fleet including the E-6A, the T-44A, the UC-12, and the ES-3. Test and evaluation of major aircraft modifications include the P-3 Updates I, II, and III, the E-2/C-2 T56-A-427 engine upgrade, the S-3B developmental testing, E-6B Airborne Command Post modification, and T-34 Naval Aircraft Collision Warning System. The following are but a few of the major projects which VX-20 has contributed directly towards:
  • C-2
    • Allison T56-A-427 Engine Upgrade
  • E-2
    • Allison T56-A-427 Engine Upgrade
    • APS-120/125/138/145 Radar Upgrades
    • ALR-73 Electronic Surveillance Measures Upgrade
    • Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
  • E-6
    • E-6A Replacement for the EC-130
    • Avionics Block Upgrade
    • Orbit Improvement System
    • High-Power Transmit Set
    • E-6B Airborne Command Post
  • EP-3
    • EP-3E Aries II Update
    • Sensor System Improvement Program
    • JASF High Band Prototype EP-3
  • ES-3
    • ES-3 Test and Evaluation
    • Communications Improvement Program
    • Auto Carrier Landing System/Link 4
    • Carrier Aircraft Inertial Navigation System II
  • S-3
    • S-3B Test and Evaluation
    • Maverick Integration
  • P-3
    • Update I/II/III
    • Sustained Readiness Program
    • Maverick Integration
    • Counterdrug Upgrade
    • Synthetic Aperture Radar
    • Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar
    • ALE-47 Electronic/Infrared Counter Missile Defense System
    • Electronic Flight Display System
  • T-34
    • Naval Aircraft Collision Warning System
  • T-44
    • Advanced Multiengine Trainer Test and Evaluation
  • UC-12
    • Utility Cargo Aircraft Test and Evaluation

    Ongoing Test Programs

Photo of the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 in a hangar having the propeller worked onVX-20 continues to be an integral player in the advancement of naval aviation, intimately involved in the developmental test of future aircraft technologies and modifications. Ongoing test programs include the E-2 Hawkeye 2000 and 8-bladed propeller upgrades, the P-3 Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) and Ocean Water Laser Detection and Ranging, the S-3 Standoff Land Attack Missile Extended Range (SLAM-ER) and Digital Flight Data Computer, the T-6 primary trainer aircraft, C-40 fleet logistics aircraft, and the KC-130J. The following are but a few of the major projects in which VX-20 is directly involved:
  • C-2
    • Carrier Aircraft Inertial Navigation System II
    • Traffic Collision Avoidance System/Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System
    • ARC-210 radios with satellite communications
    • Service Life Extension Program - Structural improvements
    • Aircraft Rewire
  • C-40
    • Fleet Logistics Aircraft Test and Evaluation
  • C-130
    • J-Model Test and Evaluation
  • E-2
    • Hawkeye 2000
    • 8-Bladed Propeller Upgrade
    • Mission Computer Upgrade
    • Satellite Communications
  • E-6
    • Multifunction Display System
    • Cryptographic Upgrade
    • E-6C Tactical Communications Capability
  • EP-3
    • Sensor System Improvement Program
    • JSAF Block Modernization Program
    • Multimission Maritime Aircraft
  • P-3
    • Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program
    • Ocean Water Laser Detection and Ranging
    • Multimission Maritime Aircraft
  • S-3
    • Standoff Land Attack Missile Extended Range
    • Digital Flight Data Computer
    • Surveillance System Upgrade
  • T-6
    • Primary Trainer Aircraft Test and Evaluation

Commanding Officers

CAPT John A. DunawayApril 1975 - October 1977
CAPT Arvid E. ForsmanOctober 1977 - October 1980
CAPT Wayne A. PutmanOctober 1980 - August 1984
CAPT Vincent P. MerzAugust 1984 - August 1988
CAPT William T. BroadhurstAugust 1988 - July 1991
CAPT James D. KeenJuly1991 - August 1992
CDR George C. HillAugust 1992 - September 1994
CAPT Stuart A. Ashton, Jr.September 1994 - April 1996
CDR Bruce D. RemickApril 1996 - March 1998
CAPT Walter M. SkinnerMarch 1998 - December 1998
CAPT John B. HollyerDecember 1998 - November 2000
CAPT Steve R. EastburgNovember 2000 - June 2002
CAPT Randal D. BlackJune 2002 - November 2003
CDR Shane G. GahaganNovember 2003 - June 2005
CAPT Steven R. WrightJune 2005 - Present
Logo of Naval Air Test Center AntiSubmarine Aircraft Test


Logo of Force Aircraft Test Squadron


Current Image of VX-20 Logo

Circa Unknown
Can you identify the Month and or Year?

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...The Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron performs technical test and evaluations on fixed-wing jet and turbo prop aircraft and their systems for their intended missions. The squadron is comprised of military, civil service and contractor employees presently operating and maintaining the P-3, S-3, E-2, C-2, C-130 and E-6A series aircraft. The squadron plays a general role in defining new test processes for Non-Developmental Items and Commercial Off-The-Shelf technologies in the P-3C ASUW Improvement Program..." http://www.nawcad.navy.mil/nawcad/test_eval/TSWNGATL/FORCE.HTML

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "..."Force" only became a squadron a few years ago but has been involved in P-3 testing as a "directorate" on this base since the beginning...." Contributed by Jim Eckloff Eckloff_Jim%PAX1@mr.nawcad.navy.mil

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Force Aircraft Test Directorate (Force) where he conducted many P-3 flight tests including radar, electro-optics, communication systems, ordnance tests, asymmetric power flying qualities and ASW tactics..." http://www.dcmilitary.com/tst_honor1121.html

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Veda Incorporated, Alexandria, Va., was awarded a $5,017,960 cost-plus-fixed-fee-term contract for operations, scheduling, engineering and aircrew support services for the Force Aircraft Test Squadron at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md...." http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/news/navywire/nwsa96/nwsa0627.txt

"VX-20 Summary Page"