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CHIPS Articles: DON CIO Pays a 'Spectrum in Action' Visit to NAVAIR Pax River

DON CIO Pays a 'Spectrum in Action' Visit to NAVAIR Pax River
By Guenever Aldrich, DON Spectrum Relocation Lead for the DON Chief Information Officer - April-June 2016
On April 1, Mr. Rob Vargo, Director of the Atlantic Test Ranges, and Mr. Jack Summers, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Chief Information Officer (CIO), hosted Mr. Robert Foster, Department of the Navy (DON) CIO, for a 'Spectrum in Action' tour of the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland, and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), one of two product centers within NAVAIR. Mr. Foster was accompanied by Mr. Daniel Corbin, Chief Technology Advisor for Headquarters Marine Corps Command, Control, Communications, Computers, (HQMC C4), and Mr. D. Mark Johnson, Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, Director for Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3)/Spectrum Policy and Programs (OPNAV N2N6F1).

Following his visit, Mr. Foster remarked, "Visiting the Naval Air Systems Command on the anniversary of the base's commissioning 73 years earlier on 1 April 1943 was an honor and privilege. The mission of NAVAIR has been critical in times of war and in times of peace, and remains a crucial enabler for our aviation community — even more so today. With the technological advances in manned and unmanned systems, the spectrum requirements to test these systems are complicated and challenging. NAVAIR is preeminent in their mission delivery, supported by the highly qualified and motivated personnel enabled by their support systems."

This trip included a command brief, a tour of the facility, including a spectrum-dependent unmanned aircraft system (UAS) demonstration, and an overview of issues relating to recent and planned spectrum auctions. The tour focused on the NAWCAD Atlantic Test Range (ATR), one of the most diverse users of electromagnetic spectrum.

The ATR provides full-service naval aviation systems testing, the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263), and NAVAIRSYSCOM Webster Outlying Field (WOLF). Together, they control fully-instrumented and integrated test ranges that provide full-service support for cradle-to-grave testing of all naval aviation platforms.

ATR also designs, develops, integrates, installs, maintains and operates all test range instrumentation, communications and digital data gathering and the handling of equipment at NAWCAD Patuxent River. Additionally, it provides flight test control and range safety functions, as well as the Mid-Atlantic Area Frequency Coordinator services, and coordinates Patuxent River and Mid-Atlantic special-use airspace. The more than 50,000 square miles of restricted and controlled airspace are used for test and evaluation of aircraft and for warfighter training missions.

This visit to PMA-263 and WOLF included an RQ-20A Puma system demonstration. PMA-263 is responsible for executing the planning, design, development, procurement and life-cycle support of small unmanned aircraft systems.

The Department of Defense categorizes unmanned aircraft systems into five groups based on maximum takeoff weight, normal operating altitude and speed. PMA-263's portfolio includes the smallest, Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3 unmanned aircraft systems, as well as Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to include RQ-12A Wasp IV; RQ-11B Raven; RQ-20A Puma; RQ-7B Shadow; RQ-21A Blackjack; and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Services. Systems are deployed around the world in support of a variety of missions, both foreign and domestic, providing ISR and reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps tactical commander and below.

Guenever Aldrich, DON Spectrum Relocation Lead for the DON Chief Information Officer.

ATR Range Control Facility
The visit to ATR included an RQ-20A Puma UAS demonstration.
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