Handshake after change of command

Captain Erik Thomas, new PMA-290 program manager shakes hands with Mr. Gary Kurtz, program executive officer, Air ASW, Assault, and Special Mission Programs. 

Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office holds change of command

The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) welcomed a new program manager on March 21 when Capt. Erik Thomas relieved Capt. Eric Gardner during a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Since March 2020, Capt. Gardner led the PMA-290 workforce, comprised of more than 1,000 military, civilian and contractor team members, to deliver and sustain multiple aircraft platforms and products for the U.S. Navy and 17 allied partners. During his tenure, the program office supported P-8A Poseidon, Special Mission Aircraft (P-3C Orion, EP-3E ARIES II, P-3C Special Project Aircraft), Distributed Maritime Operations (Minotaur Family of Services and Common Signals Intelligence systems), a cooperative program with the Royal Australian Air Force and multiple foreign military sales cases spanning all stages of the product lifecycle including development, testing, fielding, sustainment, and sundown.

“It is because of your steadfast leadership and commitment to the success of this program that it has remained reliable and ready for our fleet and our nation,” Kurtz said during the ceremony.

Thomas, a PMA-290 alumnus who previously served as the military director for foreign military sales, took the helm as PMA-290 program manager in a traditional change of command pass down.  Among his many career accomplishments, he served as the P-8A integrated test team’s mission systems project officer where he became the first naval flight officer to operate and test the P-8A aircraft.  He later served as the operations officer on the inaugural P-8A deployment.  Prior to reporting to PMA-290 for this assignment, Thomas worked in the Advanced Sensor Technologies program office, commanded Scientific Development Squadron One (VXS-1) and served as the deputy program manager for the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program (PMA-262).

“Captain Thomas, your diverse experience with the P-8 aircraft and its mission makes you an exceptional fit for this role. I’m confident that you will continue to build on the foundation left by your predecessors to deliver necessary capabilities to our U.S. and international partners,” said Kurtz.

Thomas addressed the audience of past and present program staff, international, government, industry partners, along with friends and family.

"I am excited to remain under the umbrella of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance family of systems," said Thomas. "To say I am passionate for our mission and its success is an understatement. Every tour I have done over the last 24 years has been directly part of or in support of maritime patrol and I look forward to continuing that effort for four more years."

PMA-290 manages the acquisition, development, support and delivery of the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft.


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