"You all are being recognized for delivering capability with greater speed, improving readiness and providing innovative technologies and business solutions," NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Dean Peters told employees at the 19th annual NAVAIR Commander's awards ceremony in Patuxent River, Md., April 19. (U.S. Navy photo)

Annual Commander’s Awards celebrate readiness, speed

The 19th annual NAVAIR Commander’s Awards, held here April 17, recognized individuals and teams from across the command who exemplified improving flight line readiness and increasing speed to the fleet.

This year’s winners were selected from 64 nominees in nine categories aligned directly to the Commander's Intent. During the ceremony, awardees were also recognized for two small business awards and for the Association of Naval Aviation Edward H. Heinemann Award. 

“Ultimately, the value we provide to naval aviation is through our people,” said NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Dean Peters. “Today’s winners embody the spirit of the Commander’s Intent. You all are being recognized for delivering capability with greater speed, improving readiness and providing innovative technologies and business solutions.”  

Below are the winners:


Sarah Naiva, of Patuxent River, promotes an environment in which employees excel, including fostering open, two-way communication, offering meaningful employee development and training opportunities, and empowering people to think critically and creatively. Naiva supports training aligned with capabilities-based test and evaluation and speed to the fleet initiatives.


The Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Component IPT Hydraulic Shop was responsible for more than 110 F/A-18E/F IPG-1 components throughout fiscal year 2018 and had the highest number of F/A-18E/F component IPG-1s of any shop throughout Commander, Fleet Readiness Center. Plagued with unreliable test benches, inadequate material support and inefficient production processes, the shop could not keep up with Navy Supply Systems Command schedules and fleet demand. In response to the Secretary of Navy’s mandate to increase F/A-18 Super Hornet Readiness to 80% mission capable by September 2019, FRCSW collaborated with industry partners to implement commercial aviation best practices to improve performance.


From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance - Demonstrator platform team provided unparalleled forward-deployed operational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), as well as risk reduction and demonstration efforts to support the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System. The team provided 4,000 flight hours in 194 sorties, with more than 99% directly contributing to the ISR support of the USCENTCOM and Commander, Fifth Fleet. The team completed more than 92.2% of the scheduled mission hours.


The PMA-271 Sustainment Team came together as a high-functioning, readiness-focused team in support of the maintenance of the E-6B Mercury. The maintenance concept called for enhanced phased maintenance artisans, which resulted in efficient turnaround times that allowed for greater flight line availability. Meeting mission capable goals within the next two years remains the team’s primary focus.


The F-35 Argonaut Communications Cable Integrated Product Team, PMA-202, established and executed a speed-to-the-fleet initiative, fielding a critical capability to the fleet within nine months of program initiation to support the first deployment of the F-35B. The team developed and executed a tailored acquisition strategy with an aggressive schedule. To create a solution for the first deployment, PMA-202 worked with the feet to identify and field a hearing protection device with an integrated communications capability for F-35 maintainers in time for the first deployment of the F-35B.


The Unmanned Carrier Aviation Program Office (PMA-268) awarded the MQ-25 Unmanned Air System (UAS) engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract fewer than eight months after receiving qualified proposals. This was the single fastest acquisition category (ACAT) 1 EMD award in the past 10 years, awarding approximately 30% faster than the average of all ACAT 1 EMD programs competitively awarded since 2008.


On Sept. 27, 2018, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division static fired a prototype second-stage rocket motor for the Standard Missile 6. This test is the first of several planned static tests that lay the groundwork for a new rocket motor integrated into the next block upgrade for that missile system. That test demonstrated full success in meeting technical and program objectives only 236 days after inception. Read more about this team's accomplishments.


The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS Program Office (PMA-263)’s Tactical ISR Processing System Team joined with other Department of Defense organizations to better the odds and extract as much actionable intelligence from UAS video as quickly as possible by tapping into artificial intelligence and machine learning. As a result, the team went to the forward edge of battle to deploy AI with tactical UAS in combat for the first time. The team introduced new capabilities to the fleet, fielded them in fewer than 90 days and has been providing iterative capability enhancements every six weeks.


Lt. Cmdr. Dan Ropp, of Patuxent River, led the government-industry team in the rapid increase of Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) production rates, enhanced Department of Defense inventory by 44% (compared to baseline production rates) and saved $10 million in APKWS procurement costs and an additional $5.65 million (37.6%) in investments in

production capacity. This government-industry teamwork ultimately supported the production capacity growth required to support operational and training readiness of APKWS.


This award is presented annually to an individual or group of individuals within NAVAIR who achieved or helped achieve significant improvement in the design or modification of an aircraft or an aircraft system.

The Aircraft Terminal Approach Remote Inceptor Team designed, developed, tested and demonstrated a unique emergency recovery landing system for the aircraft carrier, in which the landing signal officer provides the control commands to the approaching aircraft via a two-way datalink without the need for additional advanced sensors on the ship or airborne asset.


These awards recognize the individuals and teams that promote, practice and uphold the principles of the command’s Small Business Program.

  • Aviation Support Equipment Program Team. In 2018, the PMA-260 Aviation Support Equipment Program Office had the greatest cumulative dollar amount and the largest percent of total obligation authority awarded to small business among all NAVAIR programs. Overall in fiscal year 2018, PMA-260 obligated $35.1 million on contracts across 21 different small businesses, representing 19.4% of the PMA total obligational authority available for contract award in fiscal year 2018. PMA-260’s use of small business supports the industry base, accelerates new capability deliveries to the warfighter, and improves fleet readiness with enhanced support equipment for aircraft maintenance and repair.
  • Training Systems Contract IV/NAWCTSD Integrated Program Team. This team led the overarching Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division’s initiative to establish a long-term multiple-awards contract vehicle that enhances the opportunity for robust small business participation and contributed to the expansion and strengthening of the Navy’s pool of qualified small business modeling and simulation contractors. The team excelled in strategic thinking and teamwork.

Peters ended the ceremony on a positive note: “I’m brimming with enthusiasm, hearing these stories,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what this organization can do.”

The Aviation Support Equipment Program Tead, winners of a Small Business Advocacy Award (U.S. Navy photo)

The Aircraft Terminal Approach Remote Inceptor Team, winners of the Edward H. Heinemann Award for Outstanding Achievement (U.S. Navy photo) 

The Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Component IPT Hydraulic Shop, winner of the "Best Performing Fleet Readiness Center Shop" category (U.S. Navy photo)

The F-35 Argonaut Communications Cable IPT, winner of the "Highest Impact Reduction in Business Transactions" category (U.S. Navy photo)

The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance - Demonstrator Platform Team, winners of the "Platform Team with the Highest Readiness" category (U.S. Navy photo)

The PMA-263 Tactical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Processing System Team, winners of the "Most Innovative Use of Technology for Warfighter Benefit" category (U.S. Navy photo)

The MQ-25 Sources Selection Team, winners of the "Best Improvement in Procurement Cycle Time" category (U.S. Navy photo)

The PMA-27l Sustainment Team, winners of the "Best Improvement in Readiness" category (U.S. Navy photo)

Sarah Naiva, winner of the "Most Impactful Supervisor" category (U.S. Navy photo)

Vice Adm. Dean Peters, commander of Naval Air Systems Command, joins Martin Minthorn, left, and Keith Gray of Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division as they accept the NAVAIR Commander’s Award for the Most Significant Expansion/Transition in Technical Development on behalf of the China Lake team during the April 17 ceremony in Patuxent River, Maryland. (U.S. Navy photo)

Lt. Cmdr Daniel Ropp, winner of the "Most Collaborative IPT Lead" category (U.S. Navy photo) 

The Training Systems Contract IV Integrated Product Team, winners of a Small Business Advocacy Award (U.S. Navy photo)

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