NAVAIR

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems program leadership changes hands

Col. Eldon Metzger, left, congratulates Col. John Neville who relieved him as program manager for Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PMA-263) Program Office June 9 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. (U.S. Navy photo)

Col. Eldon Metzger, left, congratulates Col. John Neville who relieved him as program manager for Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PMA-263) Program Office June 9 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. (U.S. Navy photo)

Jun 19, 2017

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NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. –  Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263) welcomed new leadership during a change of command ceremony held aboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, June 9.

In Marine Corps tradition, PMA-263 Program Manager Col. Eldon Metzger passed the command flag to Col. John Neville, former CH-53K King Stallion deputy program manager.

During Metzger’s tenure, he led the RQ-21A Blackjack program to a successful full rate production decision and fleet integration, and implemented the first foreign military sales case with the Canadian Department of National Defense.

He spearheaded the acquisition strategy to establish the MQ-27A Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System program of record for Navy Special Warfare Command, providing the fleet with an organic critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, and managed the Close Range integrated product team that provides ISR services to the warfighter.

He also managed the Navy's first-ever procurement, installation and fielding of the RQ-20A Puma system aboard Navy ships, within 60 days, and delivered 10 SkyRanger medium vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and 29 InstantEye small-VTOLs to the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, also within a two-month period, fulfilling a critical surveillance requirement.

Metzger, a native of Beaver, Pennsylvania, will retire in October after 25 years of service.

“I truly appreciate all the hard work by the government and industry teams to deliver capability to our warfighters,” Metzger said during the ceremony. “Knowing your collective team made a difference day in and day out is what it’s all about.”

Neville, a native of Pompano Beach, Florida, previously served in PMA-263 as the deputy program manager for the RQ-21A Blackjack program from 2008-2010, when the unmanned aircraft system was in its infancy.

As CH-53K deputy program manager, he oversaw first flight in October 2015, followed by milestone C decision in March 2017. His other acquisition tours have included chief test pilot and commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 and H-1 air vehicle lead.

In his new role, Neville will lead a team of military and civilian professionals, and manage a budget of $1.1 billion and portfolio of 11 small unmanned systems that support worldwide combat and training operations for all service branches.

“It is truly an honor to lead this remarkable acquisition organization and working with NAVAIR and industry to provide this amazing capability to our warfighters; that’s part of what makes America unstoppable in the pursuit and defense of freedom, and I look forward to being a part of that and continuing the effort,” said Neville.

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<p>Navy and Insitu personnel prepare to launch the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) from the flight deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) for its first flight at sea in the Gulf of Mexico Feb. 10, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo)</p>

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