NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER AIRCRAFT DIVISION, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 welcomed its new commanding officer during a ceremony Oct. 25 in Patuxent River.

Capt. Thomas Tennant, commander of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, presided over the change of command where Col. Steven Puckett turned over leadership to Cmdr. Matthew Tharp.

“Achievements are hallmark of this squadron,” said Tennant. “Today we witness a continued legacy of excellent leadership passing through VX-20 – a squadron that has never lost sight of how it fits into Naval aviation.”

As commanding officer of VX-20, Puckett led a workforce of more than 1,100 military and civilian testers, engineers, scientists, pilots and other professionals. During his tenure he led over 6,000 mishap free test flights in 12 different aircraft supporting nine program offices at Naval Air Systems Command. He has accumulated more than 2,800 flight hours in 29 different aircraft over his career in the Marine Corps.

Outgoing commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, Col. Steven Puckett, turns over leadership to Cmdr. Matthew Tharp during a change of command ceremony Oct. 25 in Patuxent River, Maryland. (U.S. Navy photo)

“As I progress, I’m increasingly aware that my achievements are not solely my own,” said Puckett. “They’re also of these patriots – the people of VX-20 – who work hard at delivering increased capability to the warfighter every single day.”

Puckett moves on to support the office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition.

Tharp served as chief test pilot of VX-20 since April 2017 following a Naval career supporting a number of flight test projects, humanitarian, counter narcotics and combat missions. He has accumulated more than 2,600 flight hours in 21 different aircraft.

VX-20 provides full spectrum flight test and evaluation for the Fleet. Aircraft supporting test at the squadron include the C-2A, C-12M, C-38, E-2C/D, E-6B, C/KC-130J/T, MQ-4C, P-8A and T-6A.

NAWCAD supports the research, development, engineering, test and evaluation of all Navy and Marine Corps air vehicle systems and trainers. With facilities in Patuxent River, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida, the command delivers high-quality, affordable products in support of military operating forces worldwide.

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