Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24 Fact Sheet

Check out fast facts on UX-24!

Mission:

Air Test & Evaluation Squadron Two Four (UX-24), formerly the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Directorate, was commissioned in October 2018.  UX-24’s  mission is to provide operators, unmanned aircraft assets, maintenance, operational and safety oversight, and facility support to conduct research, development, test and evaluation, and experimentation (RDTE&E) of all assigned Navy and Marine Corps Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) across the broad range of UAS complexities including fixed and rotary wing autonomous, semi-autonomous and remotely piloted aircraft.

Supported Platforms:

UX-24 currently provides RDTE&E services for Groups 1-4 UAS, including fielded platforms such as Wasp, RQ-11 Raven, RQ-20B Puma, RQ-21 Blackjack and MQ-8 Firescout. Located at NAS Patuxent River’s Webster Outlying Field (WOLF) in Southern Maryland, 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

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 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.

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. 

 

 

Mr. Joseph L. Ferguson II

UX-24 Technical Director

Mr. Ferguson has over 19 years of government service with NAVAIR.  He currently serves as the Technical Director for UX-24 (AIR-5.1.11) within the Integrated Systems Evaluation, Experimentation & Test Department (ISEET, AIR 5.1).

 

Mr. Ferguson provides the Squadron both long-term stability as well as strategic and short-term leadership of assigned personnel, assets, property and facilities.  He is responsible for the direction, control, planning, and programming of resources and personnel to ensure the successful execution of the Squadron's mission.  He has held this position since January 2019.  

 

Mr. Ferguson is a native of Parkersburg, WV and a 1999 graduate of West Virginia University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a BS in Aerospace Engineering. Upon completion of his undergraduate degrees at WVU, he accepted a flight test engineering position at NAVAIR in Patuxent River Maryland.  His first assignment was with the Rotary Wing Ship Suitability branch, where he conducted twenty at-sea helicopter flight test evaluations on a variety of Navy and Marine Corps rotary wing aircraft across all classes of air-capable US Navy ships.

 

In June of 2002, Mr. Ferguson was selected to attend class 123 of the United States Navy Test Pilot School and graduated the Rotary Wing Curriculum Flight Test Engineering program in June 2003.

 

In March of 2005, Mr. Ferguson accepted an opportunity to support USSOCOM as the NAVAIR Program Manager and flight test lead for a revolutionary new unmanned helicopter called the A160 Hummingbird (YMQ-18A).  This program was an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (ACTD) project sponsored by USSOCOM, DARPA, and the US Army.  While supporting this program, Mr. Ferguson was assigned to AIR 4.5.11 as a project engineer at the Special Communications Requirements Division.  During this timeframe, Mr. Ferguson also supported the DOD Biometrics Identity Management Agency working multiple urgent warfighter need programs as the US Navy/NAVAIR liaison.

 

In June of 2011, Mr. Ferguson was selected to be the lead flight test engineer for the Cargo UAS program as part of AIR 5.1.2.15.  There he had the responsibility for managing Boeing’s YMQ-18A UAS cargo-UAS test program and providing recommendations to the PMA 266 Program Manager and APMT&E.

 

Mr. Ferguson next was selected as the lead APMT&E for PMA 263 Small Tactical UAS (STUAS) in November 2011.  As part of the management team at PMA 263 and assigned to AIR 5.1.1.5, Mr. Ferguson was responsible to the PM and DPM in the overarching execution of all developmental and operational testing of all STUAS platforms.  Most notably, Mr. Ferguson led the RQ-21A UAS ACAT III Program of Record through a successful Milestone C Decision, Operational Test Readiness Review (OTRR), and subsequent Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) test phase.

 

In 2013, Mr. Ferguson completed his post-graduate studies at Naval Postgraduate School, earning a MS in Systems Engineering.

 

In October 2014, Mr. Ferguson was selected to become the lead APMT&E for PMA 261, H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office, assigned to AIR 5.1.1.7.  There, Mr. Ferguson was responsible to the PM and DPM in the overarching execution of all developmental and operational testing of all H-53 helicopter variants for the USMC/USN, including the new ACAT ID CH-53K King Stallion Heavy Lift Helicopter.  Mr. Ferguson led the Integrated Test Team (ITT) through first flight in 2015 and a successful Milestone C Decision in 2017.  Mr. Ferguson led the PMA 261 test team until January 2019 at which time he was selected to the Technical Director position at UX-24.

 

Mr. Ferguson is level III DAWIA certified in both Test and Evaluation and Systems Engineering and a member of the DOD Acquisition Professional Community since 2000.  His personal and team decorations include the USSOCOM PEO Rotary Wing Certificate of Appreciation for the YMQ-18A ACTD, NAVAIR Commander’s Innovation Award for the Cargo Resupply UAS, NAVAIR Commander’s Award for the RQ-21A Blackjack ITT, and the PEO(A) Acquisition Excellence Team Award for the CH-53K ITT.

UX-24 Points of Contact

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

Mission:

Air Test & Evaluation Squadron Two Four (UX-24), formerly the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Directorate, was commissioned in October 2018.  UX-24’s  mission is to provide operators, unmanned aircraft assets, maintenance, operational and safety oversight, and facility support to conduct research, development, test and evaluation, and experimentation (RDTE&E) of all assigned Navy and Marine Corps Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) across the broad range of UAS complexities including fixed and rotary wing autonomous, semi-autonomous and remotely piloted aircraft.

Supported Platforms:

UX-24 currently provides RDTE&E services for Groups 1-4 UAS, including fielded platforms such as Wasp, RQ-11 Raven, RQ-20B Puma, RQ-21 Blackjack and MQ-8 Firescout. Located at NAS Patuxent River’s Webster Outlying Field (WOLF) in Southern Maryland, 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

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 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.

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. 

 

 

Mr. Joseph L. Ferguson II

UX-24 Technical Director

Mr. Ferguson has over 19 years of government service with NAVAIR.  He currently serves as the Technical Director for UX-24 (AIR-5.1.11) within the Integrated Systems Evaluation, Experimentation & Test Department (ISEET, AIR 5.1).

 

Mr. Ferguson provides the Squadron both long-term stability as well as strategic and short-term leadership of assigned personnel, assets, property and facilities.  He is responsible for the direction, control, planning, and programming of resources and personnel to ensure the successful execution of the Squadron's mission.  He has held this position since January 2019.  

 

Mr. Ferguson is a native of Parkersburg, WV and a 1999 graduate of West Virginia University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a BS in Aerospace Engineering. Upon completion of his undergraduate degrees at WVU, he accepted a flight test engineering position at NAVAIR in Patuxent River Maryland.  His first assignment was with the Rotary Wing Ship Suitability branch, where he conducted twenty at-sea helicopter flight test evaluations on a variety of Navy and Marine Corps rotary wing aircraft across all classes of air-capable US Navy ships.

 

In June of 2002, Mr. Ferguson was selected to attend class 123 of the United States Navy Test Pilot School and graduated the Rotary Wing Curriculum Flight Test Engineering program in June 2003.

 

In March of 2005, Mr. Ferguson accepted an opportunity to support USSOCOM as the NAVAIR Program Manager and flight test lead for a revolutionary new unmanned helicopter called the A160 Hummingbird (YMQ-18A).  This program was an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (ACTD) project sponsored by USSOCOM, DARPA, and the US Army.  While supporting this program, Mr. Ferguson was assigned to AIR 4.5.11 as a project engineer at the Special Communications Requirements Division.  During this timeframe, Mr. Ferguson also supported the DOD Biometrics Identity Management Agency working multiple urgent warfighter need programs as the US Navy/NAVAIR liaison.

 

In June of 2011, Mr. Ferguson was selected to be the lead flight test engineer for the Cargo UAS program as part of AIR 5.1.2.15.  There he had the responsibility for managing Boeing’s YMQ-18A UAS cargo-UAS test program and providing recommendations to the PMA 266 Program Manager and APMT&E.

 

Mr. Ferguson next was selected as the lead APMT&E for PMA 263 Small Tactical UAS (STUAS) in November 2011.  As part of the management team at PMA 263 and assigned to AIR 5.1.1.5, Mr. Ferguson was responsible to the PM and DPM in the overarching execution of all developmental and operational testing of all STUAS platforms.  Most notably, Mr. Ferguson led the RQ-21A UAS ACAT III Program of Record through a successful Milestone C Decision, Operational Test Readiness Review (OTRR), and subsequent Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) test phase.

 

In 2013, Mr. Ferguson completed his post-graduate studies at Naval Postgraduate School, earning a MS in Systems Engineering.

 

In October 2014, Mr. Ferguson was selected to become the lead APMT&E for PMA 261, H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office, assigned to AIR 5.1.1.7.  There, Mr. Ferguson was responsible to the PM and DPM in the overarching execution of all developmental and operational testing of all H-53 helicopter variants for the USMC/USN, including the new ACAT ID CH-53K King Stallion Heavy Lift Helicopter.  Mr. Ferguson led the Integrated Test Team (ITT) through first flight in 2015 and a successful Milestone C Decision in 2017.  Mr. Ferguson led the PMA 261 test team until January 2019 at which time he was selected to the Technical Director position at UX-24.

 

Mr. Ferguson is level III DAWIA certified in both Test and Evaluation and Systems Engineering and a member of the DOD Acquisition Professional Community since 2000.  His personal and team decorations include the USSOCOM PEO Rotary Wing Certificate of Appreciation for the YMQ-18A ACTD, NAVAIR Commander’s Innovation Award for the Cargo Resupply UAS, NAVAIR Commander’s Award for the RQ-21A Blackjack ITT, and the PEO(A) Acquisition Excellence Team Award for the CH-53K ITT.

UX-24 Points of Contact

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