NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, Patuxent River, Md. – In a change of command ceremony held on July 6 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, the Navy’s Tomahawk Weapons System program office (PMA-280) introduced its new program manager, Capt. Jon Hersey. Rear Adm. Stephen Tedford, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO (U&W)), presided over the ceremony as Capt. John Red handed over the reins and prepared to transition to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in Arlington, Virginia, later this month.

Rear Adm. Stephen Tedford, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO (U&W)), congratulates new Tomahawk Weapons System Program Manager Capt. Jon Michael Hersey after Capt. Vernon John Red, former program manager, turns over leadership during a change of command ceremony July 6 at Patuxent River, Md. Credit: U.S. Navy

During the ceremony, Rear Adm. Tedford commended Capt. Red for his exceptional leadership and expertise in managing the Tomahawk program. “For the past year, I have watched your [Red’s] mastery of all things Tomahawk,” Tedford said. “Your perseverance and steadfast dedication to the mission has never wavered.”

Capt. Red had previously completed two tours with PMA-280 before assuming the program manager role in 2019. Throughout his tenure, he oversaw significant advancements in the Tomahawk weapons system, including transitioning from Block IV to Block V variant and integrating upgrades such as the Joint Multi-Effects Warhead System and Maritime Strike Tomahawk. Additionally, under his guidance, the program successfully coordinated the first multi-service procurement of Tomahawk missiles for the Army and Marine Corps.

He is acknowledging the achievements of his team, Capt. Red expressed his gratitude: “From recertification and production efforts to innovative contracting strategies, I commend every team member for their outstanding work over the last four years. We are 960 people strong.”

Capt. Jon Michael Hersey, the new Tomahawk Weapon Systems program manager, enters his change of command ceremony July 6 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Credit: U.S. Navy

As Capt. Red passed the torch to Capt. Hersey expressed confidence in his successor’s ability to lead the program. “Mike, your team is ready for your style of leadership and the challenges that have been laid forward,” Red said. “The critical need for the weapon system is clear, and the program is in your hands.”

Capt. Hersey, a native of Westerville, Ohio, brings a wealth of experience to his new role. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering. He held a master’s degree in material logistics support management from the Naval Postgraduate School. Throughout his career, he has served in various program management positions, including deputy program manager for missile systems in PMA-280, deputy program manager for Supersonic Sea Skimming Target in Aerial Targets Program (PMA-208), and branch head in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Readiness Branch (OPNAV N832) and Logistics and Readiness Branch (OPNAV N980L).

Acknowledging Capt. Red’s contributions, Capt. Hersey stated, “I’ve inherited a remarkable team, one you have been integral in building. Your leadership has been deeply important in shaping the future of Tomahawk over the last few years.”

In his new role, Capt. Hersey will lead a geographically diverse program office comprising nearly 1,000 government, military, and civilian personnel. The office will oversee a budget of over 18 billion dollars.

Addressing the team, Capt. Hersey emphasized the importance of collaboration among military, civilian, and contractor personnel. “Working together as partners, we make up the Tomahawk family,” he said. “We will strive to learn, maintain a positive mindset, build camaraderie, and ultimately achieve a modernized force that will be lethal, resilient, sustainable, survivable, agile, and responsive if called upon.”

With Capt. Hersey at the helm, the Tomahawk Weapons System program office is poised to continue its mission of delivering cutting-edge capabilities to the U.S. Navy and its joint partners.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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