The Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation office (PMA-268) welcomed a new program manager during a change of command ceremony on February 23rd at the newly built MQ-25 hangar at Patuxent River. Capt. Sam Messer, who will retire after 27 years of service, transferred leadership to Capt. Daniel Fucito, who most recently served as the NAVAIR systems engineering military director.
Fucito, a native of Horsham, Pennsylvania, and Penn State graduate, has more than 2,000 flight hours and supported multiple combat missions. He has been in the acquisition workforce for nearly 15 years and served in major programs, including the F/A-18 and Next Generation Air Dominance programs. He will now lead the program office responsible for delivering the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned air system. When operational, MQ-25 Stingray will provide a critical multi-mission aerial refueling capability to the carrier air wing.
During the ceremony, guest speaker Rear Adm. John Dougherty, who leads the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, spoke highly of the personal and professional relationship he’s had with Messer for nearly three decades. “Messy has always cared for and looked after his people,” Dougherty said. “He knows how to build a high-performing team and has an unrelenting drive to deliver to the warfighter.”
Messer supported multiple program offices with the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO (U&W)) during his tour. As the PMA-268 program manager, he led a team of more than 600 government and contractor personnel where he was responsible for the programmatic, technical, and acquisition efforts for MQ-25 Stingray, managing efforts with two prime industry partners for the aircraft and ground control station.
Prior to PMA-268, he managed the Strike Planning and Execution Systems program office (PMA-281), where he oversaw mission planning for Tomahawk missile system operations worldwide. He also served as a program director for the Precision Strike Weapons program (PMA-201) alongside Dougherty, who served as program manager at the time.
“My most recent roles have given me a chance to develop some cutting-edge technology,” Messer said. “I’ll be looking for opportunities that allow me to continue working to put those systems and capabilities into the hands of our forward-deployed men and women.”
Fucito’s new role as program manager of PMA-268 will be crucial in the Navy’s efforts to enhance its unmanned aviation capabilities. His leadership will be critical in delivering the MQ-25 Stingray, which is expected to provide the carrier air wing with a multi-mission aerial refueling capability. “We are at the dawn of a new age of naval aviation, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Fucito said.