U.S. Navy’s Jammer Technique Optimization and Electronic Warfare Database Support teams at Navy Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California were joined by Capt. Steven Thomas, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Vice Commander, (far left) following the award recognition for the 2022 W. Edwards Deming Outstanding Training Award for Human Capital Management. (U.S. Navy photo)

PMA-234 receives prestigious W. Edwards Deming Award

The U.S. Navy’s Jammer Technique Optimization (JATO) Point Mugu team for the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office (PMA-234) was named the recipient of the 2022 W. Edwards Deming Outstanding Training Award for Human Capital Management.

Graduate School USA presents the Deming Award to a federal, state or local government organization that exemplifies excellence with an initiative or project that focuses on enhancing quality processes within that organization. Dr. Deming was a scholar and teacher for more than 50 years. He was best known for teaching managers and engineers innovative methods for improving how they worked and learned together, focusing on both internal and external relationships.

“It is a great honor to receive the W. Edwards Deming Award,” said JATO Point Mugu Site Lead Thomas Bluhm. “This was a whole team effort, and the whole team deserves recognition.”

JATO is a national organization of civilian, military and contractors managed by PMA-234. The largest JATO site is at Navy Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California. JATO provides the highest quality and frequency of mission data updates to the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Royal Australian Air Force Electronic Warfare (EW) units.

The JATO team focuses on devising, testing, and optimizing the weapons that are the jamming waveforms for the EA-18G Growler. JATO also assists in researching, developing, testing and evaluating jammer upgrades and new jammers.

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be exceptionally challenging for the team. JATO was forced to reevaluate how to be productive under restrictive environments while working in classified workspaces.

“We were empowered by our leaders who trusted us to enable each other to improve and streamline processes,” explained Bluhm. “We referred to Professor Deming’s strategic initiatives to focus on enhancing quality processes through teamwork.”

The JATO team exemplified innovative training, enhanced the quality of the workforce and processes, and demonstrated measurable results. JATO developed and fielded new software tools and custom test equipment, streamlined many tasks, and mitigated errors in testing and production through automation and extensive automated quality checks.

Additionally, JATO created a three-tiered engineering development program that standardizes, organizes and coordinates JATO test engineer development from new hire to test lead. With marginal increases to budget and workforce, JATO Point Mugu working through COVID-19, was able to support an additional 33% more diverse kinds of EW gear, increase U.S. JATO Techniques Analysis and Tactics (JTAT) production rate by 38% and Australian JTAT production rate by 71%, and increase mission data production rate by a total of 290%.

Four members of the Electronic Warfare Data Systems Lab shared in this award for their work facilitating efficiencies in JATO mission data production.

“Our primary focus is to support the warfighter,” said Capt. David Rueter, program manager for PMA-234. “We all need to prepare to adjust to unforeseen obstacles, and that’s exactly what the JATO team did. They embraced the challenge presented by COVID-19 and committed to finding new solutions that benefitted the entire organization. This is a prestigious and humbling recognition.”

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