NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– Vice Adm. Carl P. Chebi relieved Vice Adm. Dean Peters as commander, Naval Air Systems Command during a change of command ceremony Sept. 9 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday presided over the ceremony after promoting Chebi to vice admiral. During his speech, Gilday highlighted the many achievements and traits that made Peters an effective and accomplished leader.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Gilday said. “Our NAVAIR enterprise is foundational to generating American naval power where it matters most—overseas. Every day, over 45,000 dedicated Sailors and civilians and contractors support eight Fleet Readiness Centers, and 34 program offices across our Navy. Over the past three years, NAVAIR has delivered hundreds of new aircraft, tens of thousands of new lethal weapons, hundreds of aerial unmanned vehicles, many ground support systems for unmanned naval aviation vehicles, over 200 innovative training capabilities, repaired thousands of aircraft, thousands of aircraft engines, and hundreds of thousands of critical components to keep our fleet forward,” Gilday said.
Gilday also recognized Peters for his leadership.
“Over the past three years, I have watched him provide some of the most effective, innovative and masterful leadership in the entire Navy. Aviation readiness and its lethality are soaring like never before,” he said.
For Peters, the ceremony marked his retirement following a 36-year Navy career.
A 1985 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Peters earned his wings in 1986 and flew SH-2F helicopters on deployments to the North Atlantic, Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico in support of anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare and counternarcotics operations.
Peters later completed tours as a test pilot, instructor pilot and squadron department head, including a stint as commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21. His early acquisition assignments included avionics lead for the MH-60R Seahawk, deputy program manager for the Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program, and assistant program manager for systems engineering for all Navy and Marine Corps UAVs.
Peters went on to serve as program manager of the H-60 and presidential helicopters program offices. In October 2014, Peters assumed command of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division and served as NAVAIR’s assistant commander for research and engineering. He remained in those posts until his arrival at Program Executive Office, Air, ASW, Assault, and Special Mission Programs. Peters assumed command of NAVAIR on May 31, 2018.
As NAVAIR commander, Peters was instrumental in leading NAVAIR into a new organizational structure known as a Mission Aligned Organization. The concept brings broader and stronger support for acquisition program managers and Fleet Readiness Centers, strengthens relationships throughout the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) and supports the priorities of the Air Boss and Deputy Commandant for Aviation.
“You’ll recall that a little over three years ago, we made a commitment to each other, a commitment to build on the efforts of those who had gone before, but specifically to achieve readiness and speed, like never before and to do it by shedding everything—and I mean everything—that did not directly tie to fleet outcomes,” Peters said. “This mission aligned approach, as it would come to be known, would be very difficult, but absolutely necessary. We prioritized the health of naval aviation quality, reliability, training, and set out to make our Fleet Readiness Centers world class. We prioritized capabilities, focusing our research and test facilities on cutting-edge technologies that could be rapidly delivered to the fleet. And we prioritized affordability to ensure naval aviation could afford its future.
“Although there is still much work to do and opportunities for improvement in every area, significant progress has been made—better quality, high reliability, readiness, faster transactions, reduced costs and more equipment down range where it’s needed. The credit is to you, our talented NAVAIR workforce and leadership teams.”
Peters shared examples of the exemplary work, resilience and grit demonstrated by those under his command during two very trying events—the first being the response to back-to-back earthquakes that occurred in July 2019 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, and the more recent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In spite of COVID, you all met and exceeded all commitments and did it faster than ever before,” he said.
Peters then introduced his successor, and asked the NAVAIR workforce to welcome him aboard.
“Naval aviation requires our best efforts every day,” Peters said. “I commend to you Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, an experienced aviator, acquisition professional, a gifted engineer and program manager. He will absolutely lead NAVAIR to the next level in support of naval aviation. I ask only that you give him the same support and responsiveness that you provided me.”
Chebi earned a bachelor of science in computer systems engineering and a commission as an ensign from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) and Navy Fighter Weapons School, and holds an executive master’s degree in business administration from the Naval Postgraduate School.
He served operationally as an F-14 pilot in Fighter Squadron (VF) 142 deployed with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and executive officer and commanding officer for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192 deployed with USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) to Atsugi, Japan. During these tours, he participated in Operation Southern Watch and many Western Pacific deployments.
His shore tours include service as an aircraft and weapons test pilot in both Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons (VX) 23 and 30 and as deputy for Strike Aircraft Plans and Requirements for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
Chebi also completed numerous acquisition tours beginning with the USNTPS, where he flew the Mirage 2000 aircraft in France. His program management experience includes serving as a deputy program manager for the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office, program manager for the Precision Strike Weapons Program Office, and program manager for the Naval Integrated Fires Program Office. He also served as NAVAIR vice commander and as the Program Executive Officer Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I)/Program Executive Officer Space Systems. In September 2019, he assumed duty as the deputy program executive officer, F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office.
Chebi has 3,700 plus flight hours and more than 700 carrier arrested landings. He has logged hours in the F/A- 18 A-F, Mirage 2000, F-14A-D, F-15, F-16, P-51 and numerous other aircraft.
“To the men and women of NAVAIR, I could not be happier rejoining this team,” Chebi said.
“Our success is defined by delivering the right capability at the right cost, at the right time to ensure the fleet can successfully execute their mission and return home safely. Our job is clear, we must deliver integrated warfighting capability that is dominant, affordable and available. We must deliver that capability on an accelerated timeline.