Here are some milestones, highlights and other interesting happenings from across NAS Patuxent River that appeared in the pages of Tester throughout the year 2020:


Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24, Naval Test Wing Atlantic’s newest squadron, was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Safety award for its success in fostering a culture of safety throughout the squadron as part of its day-to-day operations.

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rory Feely assumed command of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Jan. 9.

The Department of the Navy launched the first Sustainment Program Baseline pilot for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye focused on improving the sustainment of weapon systems such as the E-2D.

The Navy awarded a contract to Augusta Westland Philadelphia Corporation (Leonardo) Jan. 13 for $176.5 million for the production of 32 TH-73A helicopters in support of the Advance Helicopter Training System program.

Both Pax River primary runways were repaired and reopened for business Jan. 6, meeting Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s schedule completion date.

The Navy’s first MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems arrived in Guam Jan. 26 for their initial deployment in the Pacific theater.


Pax River’s Trapnell Airfield was the first to receive the Navy’s newest instrument landing system. The new system utilizes radio beam signals interpreted by an aircraft’s computer systems which then relay the information to pilots, enabling them to make necessary corrections as they approach the runway.

Capt. Sam Messer took over leadership of Strike Planning and Execution Systems (PMA-281) Jan. 30.

The first Navy CMV-22B Osprey aircraft arrived at Pax River Feb. 2 after completing its ferry flight from Bell’s Amarillo Assembly Center in Texas. It was the first of two assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21, the squadron leading the developmental test efforts for the program.

The Air Combat Electronics program office partnered with Defense Acquisition University to create a cybersecurity training range that provides hands-on introductory level cyber hacking experiences against a “real world” target.

A “Dietician-Approved Fueling Station” was set up inside the Commissary to offer Sailors and shoppers healthier ready-to-eat food options.


The Specialized and Proven Aircraft program office (PMA-226) completed a FalconUp modification on several Navy F-16A aircraft, extending their fatigue lives by over 500 hours and providing the configuration baseline to incorporate the funded Falcon Star program, which adds an additional 3,750 hours to the service life of the aircraft.

Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River joined forces with Navy Medical Readiness Training Command to focus on the Defense Health Agency’s goal of sustaining the readiness of medical personnel to support operational requirements of the Services.

The nostalgic Flight Deck Lounge re-opened its doors to all hands after being shuttered to the public for 10 years. It would close days later due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Marine Corps Maj. Clayton Wade Piersall, training lead for the Marine Corps’ CH-53K program, was named the 2019 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year recipient. The award recognizes the most outstanding junior officer at Pax River.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 becomes a major concern and Military Treatment Facilities in the National Capital Region – including Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River – which had already taken necessary precautions to protect forces and their families, initiated additional safety measures March 12.

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School celebrated 75 years.

The Next-Generation Jammer Mid-Band Engineering Development Model pods completed more than 400 hours of basic functionality, Electromagnetic Environmental Effects data collection and performance testing over a three month period.


HhART, a unique F/A-18 analytical tool, showed great success in preventing ECS malfunctions for F/A18s, predicting potential PE-causing aircraft, and has the potential to improve maintenance in other systems as well like GCUs, the top degrader for the Super Hornet.

Hospital ships Comfort and Mercy are deployed to New York and Los Angeles, respectively, to assist in the battle against COVID-19.

Capt. Holly Shoger assumed command of the Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems program office (PMA-273) March 26.

Larry Donmoyer retired from Environmental Compliance after 35 years at Pax River.

The CH-53K King Stallion aced an air-to-air refueling test, successfully demonstrating long-range logistics support capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps. The 4.5 hour test was conducted over the Chesapeake Bay with a KC-130J aerial refueling tanker.

Tom Rogers, ASW flight test lead for the MH-60 Romeo at HX-21, and a team of other Pax personnel and community volunteers modified an existing face shield design with improvements, completed developmental and operational testing, sourced materials, laser cut shields and heat formed them, and worked through assembly, cleaning and delivery of 200 shields to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. The team, working under Southern Maryland Loves You, then released their 3-D printed headband design for use by others.

NAWCAD’s Innovation Hub (iHub), a workforce collaboration space with engineering design tools and prototype resources like 3-D printers, was the center for much of NAVAIR’s collective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) efforts as they produced thousands of masks and assembly kits and hundreds of face shields for fleet users and FEMA.

Pax Sailors assembled cloth face covering kits at the Drill Hall for distribution to personnel within NAS commands and departments across the installation with workers on the frontline.

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 celebrated its 45th anniversary.

Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) found innovative ways to entertain during pandemic restrictions, including many virtual activities and events.

Cmdr. Daniel P. Martin assumed command of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24, the Ghost Wolves, on April 17.

A noteworthy chapter of naval test flight came to an end at Pax River when C-2A Greyhound BuNo 162142 made its final flight, taking to the air with a crew of veterans who had flown the aircraft countless times over its nearly 30-year career with VX-20.

On April 17, the Navy took delivery of the final Block II Super Hornet, closing out a run of 322 one-seater F/A-18Es and 286 two-seater F/A-18Fs.


The H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopter Program Office (PMA-261) took delivery of the first training device for the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter on April 14. The device is housed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, NC.

Cmdr. Jared D. Goul became the 25th commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 during a ceremony May 7.

Per NAVADMIN 100/20 released April 5, effective immediately, all individuals on DoD property, installations and facilities were required to wear cloth face coverings when not able to maintain six feel of physical distance. The requirements and guidelines would tighten further as the year progressed, to include face coverings required at all times.

The Navy officially named the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division leader of the Southern Maryland Tech Bridge May 12.

Navy achieved landing system certification, flight management system installs despite pandemic restrictions.

Hand sanitizer stations were installed in building #2272; NEXCOM introduced health screenings for associates and vendors; HX-21 teammates made masks, shields for those in need.

Navy began the final Demonstration of Existing Technologies test period for the Next Generation Jammer-Low Band capability at Pax River.

The twelve active Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) squadrons completed their transition from the P-3 to the P-8. In the same week, MPRF accepted the 100th U.S. Navy P-8A aircraft.

On May 18, the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) hit a new single-day record by achieving 167 traps and launches aboard USS Gerald. R. Ford (CVN 78).

Aviation Common Support Equipment program office (PMA-260) welcomed Capt. Robert Burgess as its new commander May 14.


Capt. Margaret V. Wilson assumed command of Air Combat Electronics program office (PMA-209) on May 28.

The Navy completed the first captive carry flight test of an Advance Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at Pax River.

The third Maryland-DC Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA3) project was underway aboard Pax River and anyone with base access was invited to help collect data.

The Air Force Special Operations Command received its 53rd CV-22 Osprey June 2, marking the 400th delivery of a V-22 in the history of the joint program.

The Navy welcomed its next generation multi-mission tactical fighter by taking delivery of the first Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet test jet.

The Pax River Navy Gateway Inns & Suites facility provided lodging for eligible and authorized official military travelers and installation support for Restriction of Movement (ROM) service members arriving at Pax River to fill essential roles who were then put under COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days by their command.


CH-53K King Stallion completed first sea trials in the Atlantic.

The Bike Repair Station, featuring an assortment of bike tools and a tire pump to assist cyclists, was installed outside the Auto Skills Center, building #1586.

After being closed for 14 weeks due to COVID-19, the Cedar Point Golf Course was reopened July 3.

Project approved to study the habits of a large group of eagles that roost on Pax River’s runways each September in order to mitigate any potential for mishaps.

On July 7, the Navy suspended the fall 2020 Physical Fitness Assessment to minimize risk of Sailor exposure to the COVID-19 virus July 7. It was the second consecutive fitness cycle suspended.

NAWCAD, in partnership with NAVSEA and the U.S. Army, began testing an infrared camera system to identify individuals who may be displaying a fever — one of the first symptoms cited as a sign of COVID-19 infection. At Pax River, the testing was taking place in buildings #2272 and #2187.

NAWCAD’s new Remote Data Room, located in the Propulsion Systems Evaluation Facility, geared up for the first-of-its-kind collaboration of a live remote jet engine test between engineers at Pax River and engineers at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee.


The Navy and Marine Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems program office (PMA-263) welcomed Col. Victor Albright as its new commanding officer July 23.

Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band pod took first flight on EA-18G Growler at Pax River Aug. 7.

Capt. Pete Arrobio assumed command of E-2/C-2 Airborne Command & Control Systems program office (PMA-231) Aug. 6.

Rear Adm. Trent DeMoss took over leadership of Commander, Fleet Readiness Center Aug. 14.

U.S. Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Mark R. Wise visited the F-35 Integrated Test Force facility Aug. 6.

The ribbon was cut Aug. 24 to officially open Pax River’s newly-constructed Single Enlisted Barracks, which houses more than 200 Sailors, E-4 and below.


Marine Corps Col. Tamara Campbell took over command of Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection System program office (PMA-277) Aug. 19.

Capt. Christopher Cox turned over command of NAS Patuxent River to Capt. John Brabazon Sept. 17. Adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, Cox relinquished command in a small ceremony atop the Air Traffic Control Tower during an event that was broadcast live online.

New NAS Patuxent River Executive Officer Capt. Derrick Kingsley reported to the installation Sept. 17.

The E-2/C-2 Airborne Command & Control Systems program office (PMA-231) awarded a $34 million contract to Northrup Grumman Aerospace Systems Aug. 3 for the requirements phase of the engineering manufacturing and development of the E-2D Hawkeye Cockpit Technical Refresh.

Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) achieved 4,000 aircraft recoveries and launches aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sept. 10.

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Executive Officer Cmdr. Jeremy DeBons flew a Piper L-4 Grasshopper Sept. 25 as part of the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.


Pandemic forced the scaling back of traditional Navy Birthday celebration to a cake-cutting ceremony held outside on the Parade Field Oct. 13.

The Navy awarded a $25 million contract to Saab Inc. on Sept. 25 for two AN/SPN-50(V)1 Shipboard Air Traffic Radars and one Installation and Checkout kit.

For the 31st consecutive year, Pax River was named a National Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA.

Capt. David Thomas took over leadership of Navy Medicine Readiness Command Patuxent River Sept. 25.

Cmdr. Daniel Short assumed command of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 on Oct. 9.

For the first time in recorded naval aviation history, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps closed out the previous fiscal year without a single aviation-related fatality in either service.

NAVAIR’s Career Planning and Development Division, part of Human Capital Management, won the Department of the Navy Organizational Impact Award.

Instructors from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School joined aviation and automotive enthusiasts Oct. 17 to honor local healthcare workers at an exclusive event at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport.


Air Test and Evaluation (VX-20) and Pax River Search and Rescue teams assisted in the rescue of a downed Hawkeye crew near Wallops Island, Virginia

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School conducted first flight of UH-72A with pitot-static trailing device Oct. 15.

The Air Combat Electronics program office (PMA-209) designed and launched the Hardware Open Systems Technologies (HOST) website Oct. 20. The website facilitates industry partners’ access to up-to-date HOST standards.

Atlantic Test Ranges and NAS Patuxent River were awarded a $3 million grant from the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program to protect land on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, visited Pax River Nov. 3 to talk with Sailors and civilians and see their work firsthand.

Cmdr. Ian Lilyquist assumed command of Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1 on Nov. 6.

NAWCAD acquired a logistics Unmanned Air System (UAS) prototype to demonstrate long-range naval ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo transport at Pax River for engineers, testers and military test pilots to evaluate the commercially procured air vehicle and tailor it to requirements set by Military Sealift and Fleet Forces Command.

Pax personnel are urged to cooperate with county health department COVID-19 contact tracing efforts by answering questions, if called.

The Aviation Training System and Ranges program office (PMA-205) completed testing its Tactical Combat Training System Increment II pod on an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at Pax River Nov. 6.

The Air-to-Air Missiles program office (PMA-259) International Programs team accepted the 2020 Department of the Navy Acquisition Excellence Award for International Acquisition Partnership on Nov. 5.


Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy visited Pax River to speak with pilots about Test & Evaluation career paths, touring the Test Pilot School and Naval Test Wing Atlantic.

Two U.S. Naval Test Pilot School test pilots paid a virtual visit to Park Hall Elementary first graders to explain their “rides” – a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter and an F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River held a drive-through flu shot clinic for military members Dec. 4.

F/A-18and EA-18G hit millionth flight hour mark.

Naval aviation’s operating instruction updated with information to help aviators not only mitigate but avoid physiological episodes.

Pax River extended its Inter-Governmental Service Agreement with St. Mary’s County for additional two years Dec. 8, and hit the $1 million savings milestone.