WEBSTER FIELD ANNEX, ST. INIGOES, Md.– NAVAIR’s National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Tester of the Year is Lt. Cmdr. Matthew “Broates” Oates, government flight test director for small tactical unmanned aircraft systems at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO FOUR (UX-24).

Competition is fierce for this prestigious award, which recognizes outstanding testers throughout the U.S. Navy who support programs effectively in delivering capability to the operating forces.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew “Broates” Oates, government flight test director for small tactical unmanned aircraft systems at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO FOUR (UX-24), pictured here on the left, is the recipient of the National Defense Industrial Association Tester of the Year Award. Credit: NAVAIR News

Oates distinguished himself through exceptional meritorious service while serving as the RQ-21A government flight test director, project officer, and test pilot at UX-24 in St. Inigoes, Maryland. In 2021, Oates was chosen to be the Naval Test Wing Atlantic Test Naval Flight Officer of the Year, UX-24’s Air Vehicle Operator of the Year, and his test team was a recipient of the NAWCAD Commander’s Award.

Among his numerous achievements, Oates led a team that supported and executed 18 unique and critical developmental test projects for the RQ-21A Blackjack in response to PMA-263 and U.S. Special Operations Command requirements. He also revolutionized UX-24 testing capabilities by developing and executing concepts of operations for conducting the first safe-separation evaluation at Webster Field using the Battle Management System and the Skywalker Air-Launched UAS System, which paves the way for integrating the Hatchet Smart Munition on future small tactical UAS.

UX-24 Executive Officer Cmdr. Patrick Mitchell said, “Broates is calm, cool, and collected with an extremely professional and meticulous approach to developmental flight tests. He is also humble and relatable, which empowered his team of junior flight test engineers to excel and try new things to accomplish the significant number of test projects they were given over the course of the year.”

Despite the extreme volume and diverse nature of the projects professionally executed by his team, Oates was able to plan, execute and report on 18 independent projects, including two back-to-back offsite detachments. His team completed more than 60 flights, totaling nearly 200 flight hours, all in support of developmental test efforts over the course of 2021.

A formal award presentation to Oates will be held later this year.


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