Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23, or (VX) 23, welcomed its new leader in a change of command ceremony March 23 at Hangar 201.
Navy Cmdr. Thomas "Lou" Tennant, the former Chief Test Pilot for VX- 23 since September 2010, replaced Marine Col. Charles Gray, who will become program manager for the AV-8 Harrier.
"We have accomplished much over the last year and a half; we have shown tremendous leadership, discipline and teamwork. We will continue to need those qualities going forward, because the hard work has just begun," Tennant told the group of more than 600 people gathered for the afternoon event.
With more than 470 personnel, VX-23 supports the research, development, test and evaluation of fixed wing tactical aircraft by providing aircraft and pilot assets, maintenance service, safety oversight and facility support. VX- 23 supports the squadron's F/A-18A-F, EA-6B, EA-18G, and T-45A/C aircraft. The squadron conducts operations from a facility that includes three large hangars, and also operates and maintains a TC-7 catapult and MK-7 arresting gear facility.
Raised in Tulsa, Okla., Tennant was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program at the University of Notre Dame in 1990, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. A naval aviator since 1993, Tennant attended Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Test Pilot School and received his master's degree in aeronautical engineering.
His previous assignments include a deployment to the Mediterranean/Adriatic seas from 1994 to 1997; two years at the Strike Aircraft Test Squadron as lead F/A-18E/F Weapons Integration Team test pilot and project officer; working as the safety, maintenance, operations and administrative officer with Strike Fighter Squadron 27, (VFA) 27, from 2002 to 2004 while he was forward deployed from Naval Air Facilities Atsugi, Japan; and serving as the military deputy at the F/A-18 and EA-18G Advanced Weapons Laboratory.
Additionally, he deployed to the Arabian Gulf aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) from 2007 to 2009 as the executive officer and commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 105, (VFA) 105, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom; and later to U.S. Central Command, serving as the Fifth Fleet Naval and Amphibious Liaison Element director.
Tennant has earned more than 3,200 hours of flight time in 27 models of military and civilian aircraft and has over 600 carrier landings.
For outgoing commander Gray, the ceremony was a platform to reflect on his legacy and pass the baton to Tennant.
At the end of the ceremony, Gray challenged the men and women of VX-23, saying, "We must not let metrics and terms, such as 'affordable' and 'supportable,' distract us from the real goal: deliverable when promised and as promised."