Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24 Fact Sheet

Check out fast facts on UX-24!

Mission:

The mission of Air Test & Evaluation Squadron Two Four (UX-24) is to conduct research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Supported Platforms:

UX-24 conducts RDT&E on Group 1-5 UAS, including platforms such as RQ-21 Blackjack, RQ-23 Tigershark, RQ-26 Aerostar, MQ-8 Fire Scout, and MQ-25 Stingray.

Location:

Located at NAS Patuxent River’s Webster Outlying Field (WOLF), the squadron takes advantage of WOLF’s unique capabilities including:

  • Two 5,000-foot runways
  • Direct entry into restricted operating areas; no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) coordination needed
  • Exclusive-use areas available for small UAS
  • Proximity to water for UAS maritime operations
  • Dedicated UAS operations center

Capabilities:

UX-24’s team is comprised of experts in the unmanned aircraft test community from engineers and air vehicle operators to United States Naval Test Pilot School graduates. In addition to supporting programs of record, the team also supports warfighter Urgent Needs Statements as well as test demands from sister services, other government agencies and research institutions. To streamline UAS operations and test, UX-24 maintains the following:

  • A “Blanket” Category 3 Interim Flight Clearance that covers all government-owned Group 1 & 2 UAS operating with UX-24 at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) ranges for both land- and ship-based operations.
  • Close working relationship with Atlantic Test Range Safety for rapid assessment and mitigation of potential UAS hazards.
  • Airspace scheduling expertise to meet the customer’s needs from concurrent UAS operations to exclusive-use airspace.
  • Frequency spectrum management and/or oversight.

Personnel reporting to, inquiring about or visiting UX-24 at Webster Field may reach the unit via the Administrative Office at (301) 995-8040.

Lt. Col. Gary A. Shill

UX-24 Commanding Officer

Lieutenant Colonel Gary A. Shill is a native of Dayton, Ohio and a 1999 graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School and is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Class 135.

 

LtCol Shill first joined the Marine Corps in July 1996 as a Riflemen with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines. He was designated a Naval Aviator in April 2002 and following FRS training joined the Fleet Marine Force as an AV-8B Attack Pilot. Shill served operational tours with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and 2nd Marine Division-Regimental Combat Team Two (RCT 2) as the unit’s Air Officer and Forward Air Controller (AO/FAC). Shill has made numerous deployments afloat and ashore in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and participated in numerous named operations including PHANTOM FURY, MOUNTAIN THRUST and the 2006 Non-Combatant Evacuation (NEO) of American Citizens from Beirut, Lebanon.

 

Upon completion of Test Pilot school, Shill was assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 and the AV-8B Joint Systems Support Activity where he served as a Project Pilot and then Military Deputy. Responsible for the development and test of all new AV-8B capabilities. His assignments as a detachment officer-in-charge included Digital Triple Ejector Rack Weapons Program, Sea Trials and Certifications of LPD-17 Class Ship aboard the USS New York and aboard the Italian Aircraft Carrier ITS Cavour.

 

LtCol Shill was selected into the Marine Corps acquisition community in November of 2015 and served as the Deputy Program Manager for Advanced Sensors and Payloads at the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program (PMA-263) and Deputy Program Manager of Foreign Military Sales at the Marine Corps Light/Attacked Helicopter Program (PMA-276). In May of 2017, LtCol Shill was assigned the lead of the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) as the Government Flight Test Director (GFTD) where he led the efforts to complete the F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program and transition support to the F-35 Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2) program including support of USMC first deployment and US Navy Initial Operational Capability (IOC). Acquisition accolades include VX-31 Test Pilot of the Year, Marine Corps Association (MCA) Andrew J. Higgins Acquisition Excellence Award and Marine Corps Aviation Association (MCAA) John Glenn Squadron (JGS) Michael A. Hough Acquisition Officer of the Year.

 

LtCol Shill has accrued over 2,500 hours in 25 different type/model/series of aircraft.

LCDR Mike “Smoogle” Mabrey

UX-24 Chief Test Pilot

A native Missourian, Lieutenant Commander Mabrey graduated from the Naval Academy in 2005 with an Aerospace Engineering degree. Prior to attending flight training, he earned multiple graduate degrees researching international defense procurement at the University of Cambridge. Following his time in England, he reported to flight training and earned his Wings of Gold in October 2009. He then reported to VFA-106 for initial training in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

 

In October 2010, LCDR Mabrey joined the Pukin’ Dogs of VFA-143.  He deployed twice onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and led missions in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf.  In November 2013, he reported to the VFA-106 and served as an F/A-18A-F instructor pilot before attending the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (TPS). After graduating from TPS in June 2017, he reported to VX-23 where he conducted F/A-18A-F, EA-18G, and T-45C flight tests and served as the Safety Officer and Operations Department Head. He most recently served as the speechwriter for the Chief of Naval Operations.

 

During his career, LCDR Mabrey has flown over 1,900 hours in 25 different aircraft. Commands he served with have earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, two Battle Effectiveness awards, and multiple NAVAIR and NAWCAD awards. In short, he has had the privilege of serving with exceptional teammates. He lives in Leonardtown, MD with his wife LCDR Allison Mabrey and their five daughters.

Senior Chief Matthew Burpee

UX-24 Command Senior Chief

A native of Maine, Command Senior Chief Burpee enlisted in the United States Marine Corp after graduating high school.  In November of 1993 he entered boot camp at Parris Island, SC and upon graduation reported to the School of Infantry (SOI) at Camp Geiger, NC.  His assignments include 1st Battalion, 2d Marines (1994-1996) and 2nd LAR Battalion, 2nd Mar Div (1996-1997). His deployments include Japan, Panama and support of Operation Sea Signal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He separated from active duty service in 1997.

 

In 1999 he enlisted in the Army Reserves and served as an instructor in 1/391st (1999-2002) in Bangor, ME. He provided rifle marksmanship instruction and conducted rifle range operations. His active duty training included two training detachments to Fort Leonardwood, MO and one to West Point, NY. In 2002 he transitioned from Army Reserves to active duty Navy and attended Navy Indoctrination at Great Lakes.

 

After Navy Indoctrination he reported to NAS Pensacola for AT “A” school and then Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS for Calibration Technician “C” school. His fleet assignments include the USS Harry S Truman CVN-75 (2005-2009), the Sidewinders of VFA-86 (2012-2015), and the Vigilantes of VFA-151 (2015-2016).  While on sea duty, Senior Chief Burpee participated in deployments in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

 

Shore assignments include duty as an Instructor at Calibration Technician “C” school at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS (2009-2012), Calibration Technician at AIMD Whidbey Island (2003-2005), Logistics Specialist at NAWCAD at NAS Patuxent River, MD (2016-218), and his current position as UX-24 Command Senior Chief. He graduated from the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy in 2016.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

 

Senior Chief Burpee has earned the Aviation Warfare, Surface Warfare, and Master Training Specialist designations. His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (5 awards), and various unit and campaign awards. 

 

 

 

UX-24 Director of Resources and Operations

 

David W. Roberts

Chief Test Engineer

Dave Roberts is a Chief Test Engineer with NAVAIR’s Flight Test Engineering Department. Mr. Roberts is a senior flight test technical specialist providing oversight, risk management, and test plan and report approval authority for Science & Technology maturation/demonstration, experimentation, and program of record Unmanned Aircraft System test programs. In this position since 2009, he helped stand-up the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Directorate (now UX-24) at Webster Field under Naval Test Wing Atlantic. Prior to working as the Chief Test Engineer for UAS test programs, Mr. Roberts was the Chief Test Engineer at the Atlantic Test Range for 6 years, starting in 2003, working both manned and unmanned test programs; during this period he also helped oversee off-site testing and consulted on various special projects. He previously conducted aircraft/stores compatibility testing for 12 years on rotary and fixed wing aircraft, supervising a branch of 24 engineers and technicians for 6 of the 12 years; during this time conducting store separation testing, Dave helped pioneer test methodology for air-launched UAVs from C-12, P-3, and C-130 aircraft. For his first two years at NAVAIR, Dave was a project engineer testing aircraft ground support equipment both shore based and at sea. Prior to working for the Naval Air Systems Command, Mr. Roberts worked for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command on the M1A1 tank test program as a cooperative education student trainee at Aberdeen Proving Ground.  He has 34 years of experience with the U.S. Department of Defense in test and evaluation engineering.  Mr. Roberts was also a part-time lecturer with Johns Hopkins University for 7 years, teaching undergraduate Fluid Mechanics in the Mechanical Engineering department. Mr. Roberts has represented NAVAIR at national and international symposiums by presenting technical papers at SFTE, IEEE, ITEA, JOCG, and NATO conferences. An active member of the Patuxent River SFTE chapter since 1999, he has presented papers at international symposiums in the U.S. and Europe. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1989 and a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Tech in 1995.

UX-24 Points of Contact

UX-24 Administrative Office: (301) 995-8040

Mission:

The mission of Air Test & Evaluation Squadron Two Four (UX-24) is to conduct research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Supported Platforms:

UX-24 conducts RDT&E on Group 1-5 UAS, including platforms such as RQ-21 Blackjack, RQ-23 Tigershark, RQ-26 Aerostar, MQ-8 Fire Scout, and MQ-25 Stingray.

Location:

Located at NAS Patuxent River’s Webster Outlying Field (WOLF), the squadron takes advantage of WOLF’s unique capabilities including:

  • Two 5,000-foot runways
  • Direct entry into restricted operating areas; no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) coordination needed
  • Exclusive-use areas available for small UAS
  • Proximity to water for UAS maritime operations
  • Dedicated UAS operations center

Capabilities:

UX-24’s team is comprised of experts in the unmanned aircraft test community from engineers and air vehicle operators to United States Naval Test Pilot School graduates. In addition to supporting programs of record, the team also supports warfighter Urgent Needs Statements as well as test demands from sister services, other government agencies and research institutions. To streamline UAS operations and test, UX-24 maintains the following:

  • A “Blanket” Category 3 Interim Flight Clearance that covers all government-owned Group 1 & 2 UAS operating with UX-24 at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) ranges for both land- and ship-based operations.
  • Close working relationship with Atlantic Test Range Safety for rapid assessment and mitigation of potential UAS hazards.
  • Airspace scheduling expertise to meet the customer’s needs from concurrent UAS operations to exclusive-use airspace.
  • Frequency spectrum management and/or oversight.

Personnel reporting to, inquiring about or visiting UX-24 at Webster Field may reach the unit via the Administrative Office at (301) 995-8040.

Lt. Col. Gary A. Shill

UX-24 Commanding Officer

Lieutenant Colonel Gary A. Shill is a native of Dayton, Ohio and a 1999 graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School and is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Class 135.

 

LtCol Shill first joined the Marine Corps in July 1996 as a Riflemen with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines. He was designated a Naval Aviator in April 2002 and following FRS training joined the Fleet Marine Force as an AV-8B Attack Pilot. Shill served operational tours with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and 2nd Marine Division-Regimental Combat Team Two (RCT 2) as the unit’s Air Officer and Forward Air Controller (AO/FAC). Shill has made numerous deployments afloat and ashore in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and participated in numerous named operations including PHANTOM FURY, MOUNTAIN THRUST and the 2006 Non-Combatant Evacuation (NEO) of American Citizens from Beirut, Lebanon.

 

Upon completion of Test Pilot school, Shill was assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 and the AV-8B Joint Systems Support Activity where he served as a Project Pilot and then Military Deputy. Responsible for the development and test of all new AV-8B capabilities. His assignments as a detachment officer-in-charge included Digital Triple Ejector Rack Weapons Program, Sea Trials and Certifications of LPD-17 Class Ship aboard the USS New York and aboard the Italian Aircraft Carrier ITS Cavour.

 

LtCol Shill was selected into the Marine Corps acquisition community in November of 2015 and served as the Deputy Program Manager for Advanced Sensors and Payloads at the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program (PMA-263) and Deputy Program Manager of Foreign Military Sales at the Marine Corps Light/Attacked Helicopter Program (PMA-276). In May of 2017, LtCol Shill was assigned the lead of the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) as the Government Flight Test Director (GFTD) where he led the efforts to complete the F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program and transition support to the F-35 Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2) program including support of USMC first deployment and US Navy Initial Operational Capability (IOC). Acquisition accolades include VX-31 Test Pilot of the Year, Marine Corps Association (MCA) Andrew J. Higgins Acquisition Excellence Award and Marine Corps Aviation Association (MCAA) John Glenn Squadron (JGS) Michael A. Hough Acquisition Officer of the Year.

 

LtCol Shill has accrued over 2,500 hours in 25 different type/model/series of aircraft.

LCDR Mike “Smoogle” Mabrey

UX-24 Chief Test Pilot

A native Missourian, Lieutenant Commander Mabrey graduated from the Naval Academy in 2005 with an Aerospace Engineering degree. Prior to attending flight training, he earned multiple graduate degrees researching international defense procurement at the University of Cambridge. Following his time in England, he reported to flight training and earned his Wings of Gold in October 2009. He then reported to VFA-106 for initial training in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

 

In October 2010, LCDR Mabrey joined the Pukin’ Dogs of VFA-143.  He deployed twice onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and led missions in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf.  In November 2013, he reported to the VFA-106 and served as an F/A-18A-F instructor pilot before attending the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (TPS). After graduating from TPS in June 2017, he reported to VX-23 where he conducted F/A-18A-F, EA-18G, and T-45C flight tests and served as the Safety Officer and Operations Department Head. He most recently served as the speechwriter for the Chief of Naval Operations.

 

During his career, LCDR Mabrey has flown over 1,900 hours in 25 different aircraft. Commands he served with have earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, two Battle Effectiveness awards, and multiple NAVAIR and NAWCAD awards. In short, he has had the privilege of serving with exceptional teammates. He lives in Leonardtown, MD with his wife LCDR Allison Mabrey and their five daughters.

Senior Chief Matthew Burpee

UX-24 Command Senior Chief

A native of Maine, Command Senior Chief Burpee enlisted in the United States Marine Corp after graduating high school.  In November of 1993 he entered boot camp at Parris Island, SC and upon graduation reported to the School of Infantry (SOI) at Camp Geiger, NC.  His assignments include 1st Battalion, 2d Marines (1994-1996) and 2nd LAR Battalion, 2nd Mar Div (1996-1997). His deployments include Japan, Panama and support of Operation Sea Signal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He separated from active duty service in 1997.

 

In 1999 he enlisted in the Army Reserves and served as an instructor in 1/391st (1999-2002) in Bangor, ME. He provided rifle marksmanship instruction and conducted rifle range operations. His active duty training included two training detachments to Fort Leonardwood, MO and one to West Point, NY. In 2002 he transitioned from Army Reserves to active duty Navy and attended Navy Indoctrination at Great Lakes.

 

After Navy Indoctrination he reported to NAS Pensacola for AT “A” school and then Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS for Calibration Technician “C” school. His fleet assignments include the USS Harry S Truman CVN-75 (2005-2009), the Sidewinders of VFA-86 (2012-2015), and the Vigilantes of VFA-151 (2015-2016).  While on sea duty, Senior Chief Burpee participated in deployments in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

 

Shore assignments include duty as an Instructor at Calibration Technician “C” school at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS (2009-2012), Calibration Technician at AIMD Whidbey Island (2003-2005), Logistics Specialist at NAWCAD at NAS Patuxent River, MD (2016-218), and his current position as UX-24 Command Senior Chief. He graduated from the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy in 2016.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

 

Senior Chief Burpee has earned the Aviation Warfare, Surface Warfare, and Master Training Specialist designations. His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (5 awards), and various unit and campaign awards. 

 

 

 

UX-24 Director of Resources and Operations

 

David W. Roberts

Chief Test Engineer

Dave Roberts is a Chief Test Engineer with NAVAIR’s Flight Test Engineering Department. Mr. Roberts is a senior flight test technical specialist providing oversight, risk management, and test plan and report approval authority for Science & Technology maturation/demonstration, experimentation, and program of record Unmanned Aircraft System test programs. In this position since 2009, he helped stand-up the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Directorate (now UX-24) at Webster Field under Naval Test Wing Atlantic. Prior to working as the Chief Test Engineer for UAS test programs, Mr. Roberts was the Chief Test Engineer at the Atlantic Test Range for 6 years, starting in 2003, working both manned and unmanned test programs; during this period he also helped oversee off-site testing and consulted on various special projects. He previously conducted aircraft/stores compatibility testing for 12 years on rotary and fixed wing aircraft, supervising a branch of 24 engineers and technicians for 6 of the 12 years; during this time conducting store separation testing, Dave helped pioneer test methodology for air-launched UAVs from C-12, P-3, and C-130 aircraft. For his first two years at NAVAIR, Dave was a project engineer testing aircraft ground support equipment both shore based and at sea. Prior to working for the Naval Air Systems Command, Mr. Roberts worked for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command on the M1A1 tank test program as a cooperative education student trainee at Aberdeen Proving Ground.  He has 34 years of experience with the U.S. Department of Defense in test and evaluation engineering.  Mr. Roberts was also a part-time lecturer with Johns Hopkins University for 7 years, teaching undergraduate Fluid Mechanics in the Mechanical Engineering department. Mr. Roberts has represented NAVAIR at national and international symposiums by presenting technical papers at SFTE, IEEE, ITEA, JOCG, and NATO conferences. An active member of the Patuxent River SFTE chapter since 1999, he has presented papers at international symposiums in the U.S. and Europe. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1989 and a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Tech in 1995.

UX-24 Points of Contact

UX-24 Administrative Office: (301) 995-8040