The mission of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two One (HX-21) is to execute developmental flight test and evaluation of rotary-wing and tilt-rotor aircraft, and their associated airborne systems in support of all United States Navy and Marine Corps training, combat, and combat support missions. The goal of HX-21 is to provide the highest quality evaluation and reporting in support of the aircraft program managers and the fleet warfighters. Exemplifying the Navy and Marine Corps' ethos, the pride and professionalism inherent in everything HX-21 does has established it as the "World's Greatest Test Squadron."
Welcome to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two One (HX-21), a component command of Naval Test Wing Atlantic. The test and evaluation of rotary-wing aircraft by the United States Navy traces its beginning to the establishment of the rotary wing section of the flight test division at Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, on April 25, 1949. In 1975, the rotary-wing test section was renamed the Rotary Wing Test Directorate, and was formally established as an air test and evaluation squadron in 2002. HX-21 continues to build upon its proud heritage conducting rotary-wing and tilt-rotor developmental flight test in support of U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard acquisition and fleet support programs.
In 2018, the squadron operated 33 aircraft of nine different Type/Model/Series. Seven of the programs the squadron supported were categorized as Major Defense Acquisition Category ONE programs (ACAT I). These programs were: V-22, UH-1Y, AH-1Z, CH-53K, MH-60R, and MH-60S.
In 2018, HX-21 executed 246 Chief of Naval Operations-directed test and evaluation (T&E) projects on nine different Type/Model/Series aircraft, totaling 1,215 sorties and 1,926.8 flight hours, and surpassing 123,586.9 total flight hours of Class "A" mishap-free flight operations. HX-21 also executed 318 flight tests totaling 692.3 test hours and performed 8,500.0 hours of ground test. Squadron test pilots logged 7,941 landings in squadron aircraft including 229 shipboard landings in support of multiple high risk suitability/compatibility tests. In addition to 87 active duty Navy and
Marine Corps personnel, HX-21 also employs 38 government civilians and 353 contractors over seven different contracts. In support of HX-21 T&E missions, DynCorp contract maintenance personnel performed 25,189 maintenance actions totaling 81,376.9 maintenance man-hours which included 4,272 maintenance actions and 13,544.5 maintenance man-hours in support of NAS Patuxent River Search and Rescue aircraft.
The success of HX-21 depends on mission-critical relationships with our key acquisition partners, including NAS Patuxent River, the Marine Aviation Detachment, NAVAIR competencies, our industry partners and the following program offices: Aircrew Systems (PMA-202), Aviation Training Systems (PMA-205), Air Combat Electronics (PMA-209), Naval Air Traffic Management Systems (PMA-213), Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242), Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (PMA-251), H-53 and Executive Transport Helicopters (PMA-261), Air Anti-Submarine Warfare Systems (PMA-264), Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems (PMA-272), Presidential Helicopters Program (PMA-274), V-22 Osprey Program (PMA-275), H-1 Helicopter Program (PMA-276), Strike Planning and Execution (PMA-281), Multi-Mission Helicopters H-60 (PMA-299), and Mine Warfare (PMS-495).
Lt. Col. John M. Ennis
HX-21 Commanding Officer
Ennis, a native of Centreville, Virginia, attended Virginia Tech where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in August 1995. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in April 1997 after attending OCC. Graduating from The Basic School in October 1997 he proceeded to NAS Pensacola for naval aviation training.
Ennis was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1999 and assigned to HMM(T)-164 for Fleet Replacement Training in the CH-46E helicopter. Upon completion, Ennis was assigned to HMM-266. In April of 2001, 1stLt Ennis deployed with HMM-266(REIN), 24th MEU(SOC) where he served in operations. Upon his return from the LF6F deployment in October of 2001, Ennis was assigned as the Airframes and ALSS Officer. Completing his tour at HMM-266, Ennis participated in M3M weapon trials in the CH-46E at Patuxent River in March 2002.
Ennis attended Tactical Air Control Party Course during August 2002 and was assigned to 3/8, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune. During his time at 3/8, Ennis served as a Forward Air Control and Air Officer. In December 2002, Ennis deployed to Okinawa with 3/8 for a UDP. While in Okinawa, Ennis acted as the Operations Officer while the unit was deployed to Jungle Warfare Training Center. During the UDP, Ennis participated in exercises in the Philippines, Korea, and Mainland Japan. While at 3/8, Ennis completed non-resident AWS.
In the summer of 2003, Ennis was hand selected to attend the Army Operational Research Systems Analyst with Military Applications course at Fort Lee, Virginia. Following this course, he was assigned to be the Assistant Operational Analyst for VMX-22. As the Assistant Analyst, Ennis helped to stand up the squadron and was involved in scoping the Operational Evaluation for the MV-22B. During OPEVAL, he was the Operational Test Director for Built-in-Tests and Software. His analysis of data was crucial for the Full Rate Production Decision of the V-22. He was involved in the selection of instrumentation and also worked closely with PMA-275 to write the CDD and CPD for the Block C MV-22B. As well, he was involved in several DT/OT integrated test periods to include para-operations at Fort Bragg, NC and Icing Trials in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
During the summer of 2006, Ennis attended US Naval Test Pilot School, class 131. At test pilot school, Ennis completed his level I acquisition requirements. Following graduation from TPS, Ennis was assigned to HX-21 as the first fleet trained V-22 Developmental Test Pilot.
As a V-22 Test Pilot, Ennis was involved with shipboard dynamic interface testing, Vehicle Management Software (VMS) testing, cold weather hover performance testing, and defensive weapons testing. Ennis was the detachment OIC for rough field STO testing at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, for high density altitude/opposed lateral cyclic testing in Gunnison, CO and also for Hontek blade coating icing testing in Duluth, MN. During the tests, he managed a team of over 35 government engineers, contractors and military personnel. He was involved in the software configuration board and was responsible for tracking deficiencies on the MV-22. During the last year at HX-21, he served as the GFTD for the V-22 test program. While at HX-21, he completed non-residents Command and Staff course.
In October of 2011, Ennis checked into VMM-266 as the Executive Officer. In November, 2012, Ennis joined 2d MAW(FWD) and deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan as the Deputy FOPSO/V-22 Planner in January, 2013. In October 2013 he was promoted to his current rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He redeployed back to MAG 26, where he was the V-22 Current Readiness Officer and the Operations Officer. He was the GFTD for the CH-53K test program in West Palm Beach, Florida during first flight, Operational Assessment and through Milestone C. Prior to assuming command of HX-21 in April 2019, he reported to HX-21 in July, 2017 where he has served as the Chief Test Pilot. Ennis was awarded a Master in Science in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee in May, 2015. He is Level III acquisitions certified in Test and Evaluation, Level I in program management and has the MOS 8059. Ennis’s personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star. Ennis was the 2009 MCAA John Glenn squadron Test Pilot of the Year.
Cmdr. Stephen M. Loesch
HX-21 Executive Officer
Commander Matt Loesch was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but calls St. Petersburg, Florida home. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1999 receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ocean Engineering and was designated as a Naval Aviator in March 2001.
Loesch’s first sea tour was with the HSL-44 Swamp Foxes flying the SH-60B. He deployed on USS SIMPSON (FFG 56) conducting counter-drug operations, and on USS UNDERWOOD (FFG 36) primarily supporting oil platform defense in the Northern Arabian Gulf. In 2005, Loesch returned to HSL-40 as an Instructor Pilot. He served as the squadron’s Administrative Officer and Quality Assurance Officer. While there, he also earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida.
In 2007, Loesch was selected to stand up the Navy’s first MH-60R squadron. He reported to the HSM-71 Raptors as the NATOPS Officer and deployed on the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) in support of 7th Fleet operations, conducting the first ever MH-60R deployment. Loesch transferred to the Saberhawks of HSM-77 in 2010. As Detachment Officer-In-Charge onboard the USS STERETT (DDG 104), he supported 5th Fleet operations, including counter-piracy. He again deployed to 5th Fleet onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) as the squadron Maintenance Officer and won the Phoenix Award for the best small maintenance department in the entire Department of Defense.
In 2012, Loesch reported to United States Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska. He served as Branch Chief in charge of the team developing an adversary specific Operation Plan and was the executive assistant to the 2-star Air Force Director of J5. Loesch remained at Offutt AFB and transferred to the National Airborne Operations Center. There he served as Strategic Operations Section Head and Strike Advisor flying with Operations Team 3 onboard the E-4B in support of national tasking.
In June 2018, he reported to HX-21 as the Executive Officer. He has more than 3,000 flight hours in the SH-60B and MH-60R. His personal decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Senior Chief Herbert D. Banks Jr.
HX-21 Command Senior Chief
Command Senior Chief Banks, a native of Washington, DC, enlisted in the United States Navy in August 1998. Following completion of basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois he reported to Naval Training Center, Illinois, where he completed Airman apprenticeship training.
Upon completion, he reported for duty with Fighter Squadron 32 (VF-32) to serve as a Plane Captain. He would later strike into the Photographer’s Mate Rating which later merged in to the Mass Communication Specialist rating in 2006. His fleet assignments include, USS SAIPAN (LHA-2), Naval Expeditionary Combat Command Detachment Combat Camera; USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) and USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73) where he served as Media Department Leading Chief Petty Officer and Expeditionary Combat Camera where he served as Senior Enlisted Leader. In addition, Senior Chief Banks completed shore assignments at Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, DC and Defense Information School Fort Meade, Maryland.
He was selected to be a Command Senior Chief in February 2018, and is currently serving as the Senior Enlisted Leader on board Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO ONE (HX 21). Additionally, Senior Chief Banks is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy Class 214 Brown and has earned his Expeditionary Warfare, Enlisted Surface Warfare, Aviation Warfare and Master Training Specialist designations.
His decorations include the Joint Commendation Award (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (5 awards), Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, and various unit and campaign awards.
HX-21 Points of Contact
HX-21 Duty Office: 301-342-1762
HX-21 Administration Department: 301-342-4461
HX-21 Email: Administration Department