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).
Cmdr. Daniel Short
HX-21 Commanding Officer
CDR Short was born near Smithfield, RI and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Receiving his commission via the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2000, he reported to NAS Whiting Field where he was designated a Naval Aviator in March 2002.
In 2004 deployed with HS-5 flying the HH-60H in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM and the GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR, he flew overland and maritime Naval Special Warfare missions in Iraq from the Afloat Forward Staging Base USS SHREVEPORT. In March 2005 HS-5 deployed again, flying in support of Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines. He was accepted into the US Naval Test Pilot School/Air Force Institute of Technology cooperative program, departing as NATOPS Officer.
CDR Short graduated US Naval Test Pilot School with Class 133, receiving a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering and the Empire Test Pilot School DT-II award. He reported to HX-21 in summer 2008, serving as an MH-60R/S and H-60F/H developmental test pilot and completed two first-of-class Category C Dynamic Interface detachments on Littoral Combat Ships (LCS-1 and 2), and 3D-LZ brownout landing aid testing. He finished the tour as MH-60S Platform Coordinator.
With the Legendary Black Knights of HS-4, he deployed in 2011 aboard USS RONALD REAGAN, providing Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief in northern Honchu Japan following the earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor disaster in OPERATION TOMODACHI. HS-4 supported OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, counter piracy, and oversees contingency operations, and upon return transitioned to HSC-4 and the MH-60S. CDR Short transferred in 2013, having served as both Operations and Maintenance Officer.
Graduating from the US Naval War College with a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic studies, CDR Short was selected as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer in 2014 and reported as an instructor to USNTPS. There, he served as Operations Officer and flight test instructor in the UH-60A/L, UH-72A, and OH-58C, instructing every rotary wing flight exercise.
In 2016, he returned to HX-21 as MH-60 Government Flight Test Director (GFTD), leading developmental test efforts on USN MH-60R/S, HH-60H, and FMS H-60’s, executing Helmet Display and Tracker System rocket and 20 mm weapons test, and the first flight of the Spanish SH-60F. Subsequently, he was honored to lead the largest helicopter developmental test program in DoD as CH-53K GFTD, with the test team conducting structural envelope expansion, Fly-by-Wire flight control law development, and performance flight test. During this tour he became the first Navy pilot to fly the CH-53K.
Prior to assuming duties as Chief Test Pilot, CDR Short served briefly at the Pentagon on Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air Program’s staff. Bus has flown 50 T/M/S aircraft from CH-53K to MiG-15, and his personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal (4 awards), Navy Achievement Medal (3 awards), and Humanitarian Service Medal.
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