H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters Program

NAVAIR's PMA-261 manages the cradle to grave procurement, development, support, fielding and disposal of the entire family of H-53 heavy lift helicopters.

Colonel Kate Fleeger, U.S. Marine Corps

Program Manager, H-53 Helicopters Program

Colonel Kate Fleeger, a native of Olney, Md., earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in geosciences from Princeton University.  She received her commission in 1999 and was designated a Naval Aviator in 2001. In 2010, she received a Master of Science in business administration and management with a certificate in Project Management from Boston University. In 2011 she graduated from the Naval War College with a Master of Arts in national security and strategic studies.  In 2020, she graduated from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University, earning a Master of Science in national resource strategy.   

After designation as a CH-53E pilot, Fleeger completed three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465 before transferring to Marine Aviation Training System Site (MATSS) New River, N.C., in 2006.  Here she gained initial acquisitions experience, serving as Contracting Officer’s Representative and subject matter expert for several contracts.

Fleeger transferred to Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md., in 2011, serving as the H-53 Assistant Program Manager for Training Systems for the Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office, (PMA-261), and in 2013, she took over as the Strategic Operations Lead. In 2014, she became the H-53E In-Service Sustainment Lead and led the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Digital Interoperability effort for CH-53E and MV-22B.  She became the CH-53K engineering class desk in 2015 and led the development and execution of an innovative plan to accelerate first flight.

In 2016, Fleeger transitioned to the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program Office (PMA-263) as the Advanced Development Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead responsible for development and fielding of Signals Intelligence, Synthetic Aperture Radar, and Wide Area Surveillance payloads.  She subsequently transitioned to the Medium UAS IPT where she oversaw both RQ-21 and MQ-27 programs.

In 2018, she was selected as the VH-92A IPT lead in the Presidential Helicopter Program Office (PMA-274) and in 2020, she became the CH-53K IPT lead, in the Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office, (PMA-261).

She served as the Chief of Staff for Program Executive Officer, Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault, and Special Mission Programs from August 2021 - May 2022. In May 2022, Fleeger assumed command of PMA-261 as program manager.



47123 Buse Road, Bldg 2272
Patuxent River, MD 20670-1547
United States


Megan Wasel