News Release, NAS Pax River Public Affairs Office

Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. ––The Strike Planning and Execution Systems program office (PMA-281) welcomed a new program manager during a ceremony Jan. 30 in Patuxent River.

Rear Adm. Brian Corey, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, presided over the ceremony where Capt. Paul Mitchell transferred leadership to Capt. Sam Messer.

“The Navy has embarked on a digital future,” said Corey. “What Capt. Mitchell and his team have built over the past couple of years is build a roadmap to get us there.”

Rear Adm. Brian Corey, Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, looks on as Capt. Paul Mitchell (right) is relieved by Capt. Sam Messer (center), incoming program manager for Strike Planning and Execution Systems (PMA-281) Jan. 30 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River (U.S. Navy photo).

During Mitchell’s tour, he was responsible for providing the “digital backbone” for mission planning, rehearsal, execution, and analysis across 40 different Navy manned aircraft/unmanned vehicles. His team also oversaw global Tomahawk planning and execution capabilities for over 180 afloat and ashore sites worldwide. He helped pivot PMA-281 from a sustainment posture to an active role in the Navy’s digital transformation to integrated multi-domain mission management capability.
The Navy also designated PMA-281’s Common Control System (CCS) program as the department’s unmanned systems standard under his leadership.

“I am so proud of the exceptional dedication and efforts of the PMA-281 team,” said Mitchell. “I truly believe that Capt. Messer is absolutely the right person at the right time to lead this outstanding team forward. He is joining the program office at a crucial inflection point that will fundamentally change how we do business in the future across all of naval aviation.”

Messer, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, has served in multiple acquisitions and engineering roles across three different agencies since 2006, including class desk for PMA-281 and deputy program manager for Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) and Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) in the Precision Strike Weapons program office (PMA-201). Most recently, he was the Effects Deployment Office (FXDO) director leading the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) and MALD programs.

“The Navy is going through a digital transformation of how it flies and fights and PMA-281 is leading that charge,” Messer said.  “I’m excited to rejoin the team at this critical juncture.” 


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...