Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 Fact Sheet

Check out fast facts on VX-23!

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) is NAVAIR's largest flight test organization. The squadron's mission is to support the RDT&E of fixed wing tactical aircraft by providing aircraft and pilot assets, maintenance services, safety oversight and facility support for these efforts. Primary areas of support include flying qualities and performance evaluations, shipboard suitability, propulsion system testing, tactical aircraft mission system testing, ordnance compatibility and ballistic efforts, reliability and maintainability assessments, flight fidelity simulation and flight control software development. The Squadron also provides Government Flight Representatives, test monitoring, chase aircraft support, and facilities for contractor demonstration, validation and development work involving tactical aircraft and associated systems.

 

The VX-23 workforce -- officers (Navy, Marine Corps and foreign nationals), enlisted (Navy and Marine Corps), civilians and contractors -- supports the aircraft maintenance, test planning and conduct, safety oversight and support of the squadron's F/A-18A-D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, T-45C Goshawk, and F-35B/C Lightning II aircraft.

 

The squadron conducts more than 3,000 flight operations annually, totaling approximately 4,400 flight hours, much of which involves high-risk flight test. VX-23 conducts operations, both shore based and shipboard, locally at NAS Patuxent River and operates and maintains the TC-7 catapult and MK-7 arresting gear test sites.

Capt. Elizabeth Somerville

VX-23 Commanding Officer

 

Captain Elizabeth Somerville is a native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and receiving her commission through the NROTC program.  Following flight training in Pensacola, Florida, CAPT Somerville earned her Wings of Gold as a Naval Flight Officer in October of 2000 and reported to VAQ-129 for fleet replacement training in the EA-6B Prowler.

 

Upon completion of the FRS in November of 2001, CAPT Somerville reported to the Shadowhawks of VAQ-141 where she completed a Mediterranean deployment onboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71.)  During this tour, she participated extensively in combat operations in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.  Following the 2003 deployment, CAPT Somerville earned her Prowler Tactics Instructor (PTI) qualification and acted in multiple squadron roles, culminating in Training Officer and Safety Officer.

 

After her tour with VAQ-141, CAPT Somerville was accepted into the US Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) Cooperative Program and reported to the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in May of 2004 and then graduated as a member of USNTPS Class 130 with a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering as part of the TPS Co-Op program.

 

After Test Pilot School graduation, CAPT Somerville joined the Dust Devils of VX-31 in China Lake, CA.  While at VX-31, her flight test roles consisted of the test and evaluation of F/A-18D, F/A-18F and EA-18G weapons and aircraft software.  She also served as the EA-18G and HARM Project Officer, responsible for the initial flight test of the EA-18G Growler.

 

In July 2009, CAPT Somerville reported to VAQ-141 once again as a Department Head, joining them right as the squadron completed a transition from the EA-6B to the EA-18G.  During this tour, she served as Maintenance Officer for the first CVN work-up cycle with the EA-18G and subsequently took over as Operations Officer for the upcoming maiden aircraft carrier deployment of both the EA-18G and the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

 

Following her Department Head tour, in April of 2012, CAPT Somerville reported to Airborne Electronic Attack Systems and EA-6B Program Office (PMA-234) as the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Integration IPT Lead.  She was responsible for the integration of the NGJ tactical jamming system on the EA-18G.  During this tour she transitioned to Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer (AEDO.) 

 

CAPT Somerville was selected for Aviation Command and was slated to the “Dust Devils” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron THREE ONE (VX-31). She assumed the duties of Chief Test Pilot in January 2016 and Commanding Officer in July 2017.  As the CO of VX-31, she led a team responsible for the developmental flight test for aircraft software development and weapons testing for the F/A-18 A-F, EA-18G, AV-8B.  Additionally, the command was responsible for conducting Search and Rescue (SAR) with the MH-60S for the southern California and high desert region.

 

In July of 2021, CAPT Somerville assumed duties of Commanding Officer at VX-23.

 

CAPT Somerville’s personal decorations include the Air Medal (2 Strike/Flight Award and One Individual Award with Combat “V”,) Meritorious Service Medal (two awards,) Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards,) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards) and various campaign medals and unit citations.  She has accumulated over 2000 hours, primarily in the EA-6B, F/A-18F and EA-18G.

Cmdr. Daniel Kitts

VX-23 Chief Test Pilot

Originally from Silver Spring, MD, CDR Daniel “Tonto” Kitts received his commission from the United States Naval Academy in 2001, graduating with distinction and receiving a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering.

 

CDR Kitts was designated a Naval Aviator in September 2003. Following flight school, he received orders to the “Gladiators” of VFA-106 at NAS Oceana for F/A-18C Hornet training.

 

CDR Kitts’ first operational fleet assignment was as a member of the “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 located at NAS Oceana, VA. The squadron embarked to the Arabian Gulf aboard the USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN 75) in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.

 

In May 2007, CDR Kitts was selected to attend the United States Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD. Upon completion of Test Pilot School he completed a tour as a developmental test pilot at VX-23 in Patuxent River, MD. Upon the completion of his tour at VX-23 he reported to CVW-5 in Atsugi, Japan where he served as the Strike Operations Officer. As a member of the Forward Deployed Naval Force he deployed aboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) in the Western Pacific.

 

In August 2012, CDR Kitts reported to the “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 at NAS Lemoore, CA. As a department head in VFA-86, CDR Kitts embarked on USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) in the Pacific.

 

In December 2014, CDR Kitts received orders back to VX-23 where he served as a developmental test pilot and the carrier suitability lead for the F-35C test program, and in October 2017, he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron ONE FOUR SEVEN (VFA-147) as Executive Officer. CDR Kitts completed his tour as Commanding Officer of VFA-147 in May 2020 having successfully transitioned the first Navy operational squadron from the F/A-18E to the F-35C and earning both the 2020 Battle ‘E’ and Safety ‘S’ awards.

 

CDR Kitts reported to the Chief of Naval Operations Staff, Air Warfare (N98) as the F-35C Requirements Officer in July 2020. He was selected for bonus command and reported to VX-23 in July 2021 as Chief Test Pilot.

 

His personal awards include the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, Strike Flight Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards) and various campaign and unit awards.

Cmdr. Jared Loller

VX-23 Executive Officer

A native of Maryland, Commander Loller graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2001 where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering Systems.  He was commissioned in May 2001 and designated as a Naval Aviator in July 2003. 

 

Following initial training in the E-2C Hawkeye, CDR Loller reported to the “Screwtops” of VAW-123 and deployed twice on board the USS Enterprise flying in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.  On his second deployment he was designated as a Wing Qualified Landing Signals Officer.  In 2008, CDR Loller transitioned to the Electronic Attack community and following training at VAQ-129, reported to the “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142.  There he served in Al Asad, Iraq and on board the USS Nimitz supporting Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and NEW DAWN. 

 

In March 2013 CDR Loller attended Aviation Safety Officer school and joined the “Wizards” of VAQ-133 as a Department Head.  In VAQ-133, he transitioned to the EA-18 Growler and served on board the USS Stennis as the squadron’s Operations and Maintenance Officer.  In 2015, he was selected for the Secretary of the Navy Tours with Industry Program and worked as a Senior Project Manager on a Process Improvement Team at Amazon.com.  While at Amazon, he traveled to Fullfilment Centers across the country and studied Lean Six Sigma methods for improving quality control.  In 2016, he attended Aviation Safety Manager School and reported to Commander Electronic Attack Wing Pacific as the Director of Safety.  During this time, he earned his Master of Business Administration from Ohio University while continuing to fly the EA-18G.  In 2017, CDR Loller attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI and earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.

 

In July 2018, CDR Loller moved his family back to the Pacific Northwest and began refresher training in the EA-18G with VAQ-129 to serve as the Executive Officer of the “Vikings”.  There he served for two and a half years training the fleet’s newest Aviators.  In February 2021, he reported aboard VX-23 as the Executive Officer.

 

CDR Loller has accumulated over 2,700 flight hours in the E-2C, EA-6B, EA-18G, and others.  His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three), Strike/Flight Air Medal (seven), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two), and various unit, service, and campaign awards.

Senior Chief Karyn Sigurdsson

VX-23 Command Senior Chief

CMDCS(AW/SW) Karyn Sigurdsson, USN, from Greendale, Wisconsin, started her career at Great Lakes Recruit Training Command in April 1997 followed by Radioman “A” School.  Her first assignment was to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Iceland where she performed duties as a Message Center Operator.  She later transferred to Naval Air Station Keflavik where she served as webmaster.  In 2002, she was accepted for conversion through Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island.

 

Sigurdsson reported to Trial Service Office West Branch Office Whidbey Island in 2003 and shifted to the Everett branch office in 2004, where she served as a command services paralegal and court reporter.  Following her tour in the Northwest, she reported to Region Legal Service Office Europe and Southwest Asia Detachment Rota, Spain in 2006, where she served as the Leading Petty Officer.  During that tour, she served an individual augmentee assignment to Task Force 134, Detainee Operations, in Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq.

 

In 2009, Sigurdsson reported to USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) where she served as the Legal Department Leading Petty Officer until she was selected for advancement to Chief Petty Officer.  In 2011, she became the Leading Chief Petty Officer of LINCOLN’s Training Department.

 

Sigurdsson reported to Naval Justice School, Newport, Rhode Island in 2012, where she was the Leading Chief Petty Officer in the Paralegal and Civil Law Departments.  During that tour, she was selected for advancement to Senior Chief.  In 2015, she reported as the Senior Enlisted Leader of Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington and was selected for the Command Senior Chief program in 2018.  She reported to Military Entrance Processing Station Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2018 as the Senior Enlisted Advisor until 2020 when she transferred to her current assignment as the Command Senior Enlisted Leader at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO THREE in Patuxent River, Maryland.

 

Her personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (five awards), and numerous campaign medals and ribbons.

VX-23 Points of Contact

VX-23 Duty Office: 301-342-4137

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) is NAVAIR's largest flight test organization. The squadron's mission is to support the RDT&E of fixed wing tactical aircraft by providing aircraft and pilot assets, maintenance services, safety oversight and facility support for these efforts. Primary areas of support include flying qualities and performance evaluations, shipboard suitability, propulsion system testing, tactical aircraft mission system testing, ordnance compatibility and ballistic efforts, reliability and maintainability assessments, flight fidelity simulation and flight control software development. The Squadron also provides Government Flight Representatives, test monitoring, chase aircraft support, and facilities for contractor demonstration, validation and development work involving tactical aircraft and associated systems.

 

The VX-23 workforce -- officers (Navy, Marine Corps and foreign nationals), enlisted (Navy and Marine Corps), civilians and contractors -- supports the aircraft maintenance, test planning and conduct, safety oversight and support of the squadron's F/A-18A-D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, T-45C Goshawk, and F-35B/C Lightning II aircraft.

 

The squadron conducts more than 3,000 flight operations annually, totaling approximately 4,400 flight hours, much of which involves high-risk flight test. VX-23 conducts operations, both shore based and shipboard, locally at NAS Patuxent River and operates and maintains the TC-7 catapult and MK-7 arresting gear test sites.

Capt. Elizabeth Somerville

VX-23 Commanding Officer

 

Captain Elizabeth Somerville is a native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and receiving her commission through the NROTC program.  Following flight training in Pensacola, Florida, CAPT Somerville earned her Wings of Gold as a Naval Flight Officer in October of 2000 and reported to VAQ-129 for fleet replacement training in the EA-6B Prowler.

 

Upon completion of the FRS in November of 2001, CAPT Somerville reported to the Shadowhawks of VAQ-141 where she completed a Mediterranean deployment onboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71.)  During this tour, she participated extensively in combat operations in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.  Following the 2003 deployment, CAPT Somerville earned her Prowler Tactics Instructor (PTI) qualification and acted in multiple squadron roles, culminating in Training Officer and Safety Officer.

 

After her tour with VAQ-141, CAPT Somerville was accepted into the US Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) Cooperative Program and reported to the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in May of 2004 and then graduated as a member of USNTPS Class 130 with a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering as part of the TPS Co-Op program.

 

After Test Pilot School graduation, CAPT Somerville joined the Dust Devils of VX-31 in China Lake, CA.  While at VX-31, her flight test roles consisted of the test and evaluation of F/A-18D, F/A-18F and EA-18G weapons and aircraft software.  She also served as the EA-18G and HARM Project Officer, responsible for the initial flight test of the EA-18G Growler.

 

In July 2009, CAPT Somerville reported to VAQ-141 once again as a Department Head, joining them right as the squadron completed a transition from the EA-6B to the EA-18G.  During this tour, she served as Maintenance Officer for the first CVN work-up cycle with the EA-18G and subsequently took over as Operations Officer for the upcoming maiden aircraft carrier deployment of both the EA-18G and the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

 

Following her Department Head tour, in April of 2012, CAPT Somerville reported to Airborne Electronic Attack Systems and EA-6B Program Office (PMA-234) as the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Integration IPT Lead.  She was responsible for the integration of the NGJ tactical jamming system on the EA-18G.  During this tour she transitioned to Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer (AEDO.) 

 

CAPT Somerville was selected for Aviation Command and was slated to the “Dust Devils” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron THREE ONE (VX-31). She assumed the duties of Chief Test Pilot in January 2016 and Commanding Officer in July 2017.  As the CO of VX-31, she led a team responsible for the developmental flight test for aircraft software development and weapons testing for the F/A-18 A-F, EA-18G, AV-8B.  Additionally, the command was responsible for conducting Search and Rescue (SAR) with the MH-60S for the southern California and high desert region.

 

In July of 2021, CAPT Somerville assumed duties of Commanding Officer at VX-23.

 

CAPT Somerville’s personal decorations include the Air Medal (2 Strike/Flight Award and One Individual Award with Combat “V”,) Meritorious Service Medal (two awards,) Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards,) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards) and various campaign medals and unit citations.  She has accumulated over 2000 hours, primarily in the EA-6B, F/A-18F and EA-18G.

Cmdr. Daniel Kitts

VX-23 Chief Test Pilot

Originally from Silver Spring, MD, CDR Daniel “Tonto” Kitts received his commission from the United States Naval Academy in 2001, graduating with distinction and receiving a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering.

 

CDR Kitts was designated a Naval Aviator in September 2003. Following flight school, he received orders to the “Gladiators” of VFA-106 at NAS Oceana for F/A-18C Hornet training.

 

CDR Kitts’ first operational fleet assignment was as a member of the “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 located at NAS Oceana, VA. The squadron embarked to the Arabian Gulf aboard the USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN 75) in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.

 

In May 2007, CDR Kitts was selected to attend the United States Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD. Upon completion of Test Pilot School he completed a tour as a developmental test pilot at VX-23 in Patuxent River, MD. Upon the completion of his tour at VX-23 he reported to CVW-5 in Atsugi, Japan where he served as the Strike Operations Officer. As a member of the Forward Deployed Naval Force he deployed aboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) in the Western Pacific.

 

In August 2012, CDR Kitts reported to the “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 at NAS Lemoore, CA. As a department head in VFA-86, CDR Kitts embarked on USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) in the Pacific.

 

In December 2014, CDR Kitts received orders back to VX-23 where he served as a developmental test pilot and the carrier suitability lead for the F-35C test program, and in October 2017, he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron ONE FOUR SEVEN (VFA-147) as Executive Officer. CDR Kitts completed his tour as Commanding Officer of VFA-147 in May 2020 having successfully transitioned the first Navy operational squadron from the F/A-18E to the F-35C and earning both the 2020 Battle ‘E’ and Safety ‘S’ awards.

 

CDR Kitts reported to the Chief of Naval Operations Staff, Air Warfare (N98) as the F-35C Requirements Officer in July 2020. He was selected for bonus command and reported to VX-23 in July 2021 as Chief Test Pilot.

 

His personal awards include the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, Strike Flight Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards) and various campaign and unit awards.

Cmdr. Jared Loller

VX-23 Executive Officer

A native of Maryland, Commander Loller graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2001 where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering Systems.  He was commissioned in May 2001 and designated as a Naval Aviator in July 2003. 

 

Following initial training in the E-2C Hawkeye, CDR Loller reported to the “Screwtops” of VAW-123 and deployed twice on board the USS Enterprise flying in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.  On his second deployment he was designated as a Wing Qualified Landing Signals Officer.  In 2008, CDR Loller transitioned to the Electronic Attack community and following training at VAQ-129, reported to the “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142.  There he served in Al Asad, Iraq and on board the USS Nimitz supporting Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and NEW DAWN. 

 

In March 2013 CDR Loller attended Aviation Safety Officer school and joined the “Wizards” of VAQ-133 as a Department Head.  In VAQ-133, he transitioned to the EA-18 Growler and served on board the USS Stennis as the squadron’s Operations and Maintenance Officer.  In 2015, he was selected for the Secretary of the Navy Tours with Industry Program and worked as a Senior Project Manager on a Process Improvement Team at Amazon.com.  While at Amazon, he traveled to Fullfilment Centers across the country and studied Lean Six Sigma methods for improving quality control.  In 2016, he attended Aviation Safety Manager School and reported to Commander Electronic Attack Wing Pacific as the Director of Safety.  During this time, he earned his Master of Business Administration from Ohio University while continuing to fly the EA-18G.  In 2017, CDR Loller attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI and earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.

 

In July 2018, CDR Loller moved his family back to the Pacific Northwest and began refresher training in the EA-18G with VAQ-129 to serve as the Executive Officer of the “Vikings”.  There he served for two and a half years training the fleet’s newest Aviators.  In February 2021, he reported aboard VX-23 as the Executive Officer.

 

CDR Loller has accumulated over 2,700 flight hours in the E-2C, EA-6B, EA-18G, and others.  His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three), Strike/Flight Air Medal (seven), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two), and various unit, service, and campaign awards.

Senior Chief Karyn Sigurdsson

VX-23 Command Senior Chief

CMDCS(AW/SW) Karyn Sigurdsson, USN, from Greendale, Wisconsin, started her career at Great Lakes Recruit Training Command in April 1997 followed by Radioman “A” School.  Her first assignment was to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Iceland where she performed duties as a Message Center Operator.  She later transferred to Naval Air Station Keflavik where she served as webmaster.  In 2002, she was accepted for conversion through Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island.

 

Sigurdsson reported to Trial Service Office West Branch Office Whidbey Island in 2003 and shifted to the Everett branch office in 2004, where she served as a command services paralegal and court reporter.  Following her tour in the Northwest, she reported to Region Legal Service Office Europe and Southwest Asia Detachment Rota, Spain in 2006, where she served as the Leading Petty Officer.  During that tour, she served an individual augmentee assignment to Task Force 134, Detainee Operations, in Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq.

 

In 2009, Sigurdsson reported to USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) where she served as the Legal Department Leading Petty Officer until she was selected for advancement to Chief Petty Officer.  In 2011, she became the Leading Chief Petty Officer of LINCOLN’s Training Department.

 

Sigurdsson reported to Naval Justice School, Newport, Rhode Island in 2012, where she was the Leading Chief Petty Officer in the Paralegal and Civil Law Departments.  During that tour, she was selected for advancement to Senior Chief.  In 2015, she reported as the Senior Enlisted Leader of Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington and was selected for the Command Senior Chief program in 2018.  She reported to Military Entrance Processing Station Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2018 as the Senior Enlisted Advisor until 2020 when she transferred to her current assignment as the Command Senior Enlisted Leader at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO THREE in Patuxent River, Maryland.

 

Her personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (five awards), and numerous campaign medals and ribbons.

VX-23 Points of Contact

VX-23 Duty Office: 301-342-4137