Navy’s first unmanned test squadron changes command

Lt. Col. Gary Shill, left, salutes Col. Richard Marigliano, center, as he takes command of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24 during a ceremony at Webster Outlying Field in St. Inigoes. Maryland, June 3.

Lt. Col. Gary Shill took command of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24 from Cmdr. Daniel Martin during a ceremony at NAS Patuxent River’s Webster Outlying Field June 3.

Col. Richard E. Marigliano, Commodore of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, presided over the change of command ceremony.

“I have full faith and confidence in Lt. Col. Shill’s ability to continue the great work done here at UX-24,” said Marigliano. “He has passion for what is right and needed to succeed – I look forward to observing his leadership.”

Prior to joining UX-24 as Chief Test Pilot in April 2020, Shill served as Government Flight Test Director for the F-35 Lightning Integrated Test Force where he previously supported the U.S. Marine Corps’ first deployment of the F-35. During his time with the Lightning program, he led efforts to complete the F-35’s System Development and Demonstration enabling fleet delivery of the newest version of the aircraft, and F-35 Continuous Capability Development and Delivery providing capability improvements. He also served as deputy program manager for the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program (PMA-263).

“I’m confident that our squadron’s unique combination of talent, assets, and spirit of innovation will greatly assist in developing advanced systems,” said Shill. “Our team understands how existing and legacy systems can integrate to maximize warfighting capability.”

Prior to joining UX-24 as Chief Test Pilot in August 2018, Martin served as Government Flight Test Director for the MQ-4C Triton’s flight test operations at VX-20 and oversaw Triton’s transition to operational test. He also lead the program’s communications, and interoperability and cybersecurity teams at the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program (PMA-262). Martin served UX-24 before its designation as the Navy’s first dedicated UAS test squadron while it was an unmanned test directorate.

“I am fortunate to have worked with a dedicated and capable team of UAS experts,” said Martin. “I am proud of the squadron’s ability to adjust and maintain safe and effective operations during a time of instability and uncertainty.”

During the ceremony, Marigliano awarded Martin the gold star in lieu of a third award to his Meritorious Service Medal.

Martin executed his entire tour as commanding officer during COVID-19. Despite restrictions, UX-24 maintained a full flight schedule executing more flights in 2020 than in 2019. During his tenure, Martin oversaw successful execution of more than 2,281 unmanned flights totaling over 3,000 flight hours in support of multiple program offices and other DOD customers.

Martin moves on to the Unmanned Carrier Aviation Program (PMA-268) supporting the MQ-25 Stingray, the Navy’s first carrier-based unmanned aircraft providing aerial refueling capability.

UX-24 is the service’s only dedicated UAS test squadron. The squadron provides research, development and test services for Groups 1-4 UAS, including operational platforms like the RQ-20B Puma, RQ-21 Blackjack, and MQ-8 Fire Scout. Located at NAS Patuxent River’s Webster Outlying Field, the squadron operates across the installation’s unique facilities featuring two 5,000-foot runways, direct entry into restricted operating areas, exclusive-use areas available for small UAS’, proximity to water for maritime operations, and a dedicated UAS operations center.

UX-24 is a component of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, test wing under Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. With facilities in Patuxent River, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida NAWCAD advances capability and operational readiness for naval aviation and our warfighters.