PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – A pivotal change in leadership transpired at NAS Patuxent River on Aug. 9 as Capt. Beau Massenburg took over the reins of the Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program (PMA-213) from Capt. Kevin J. Watkins.

The ceremony, graced by Rear Admiral Joseph Hornbuckle, Commander of Fleet Readiness Centers, highlighted the commendable work of Watkins, who has served as the program manager since August 2019. During his tenure, Watkins managed 71 systems with a combined budget of $4 billion. These systems are crucial in air traffic management and cooperative combat identification.

Capt. Kevin Watkins, right, relinquishes command as Program Manager of the Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program (PMA-213) to Capt. Beau Massenburg, left, during a change of command ceremony Aug. 9 at NAS Patuxent River. Credit: U.S. Navy

Hornbuckle commended Watkins’s forward-thinking leadership: “Captain Watkins listened, learned, and championed innovative ideas to advance and execute the PMA-213 mission. His innovative leadership enabled the team to achieve incredible outcomes for the fleet.”

Under Watkins’s guidance, the PMA-213 team reached significant milestones. These include delivering the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS), a GPS-based precision approach and landing system, to the fleet. They also successfully upgraded and deployed eight separate Shore Air Traffic Control landing systems and introduced a new precision approach and landing capability roadmap.

In his departing remarks, Watkins praised his team’s dedication, emphasizing, “Despite the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced, this team has consistently delivered decisive, relevant Air Traffic Management systems on time and affordable.”

Enter Massenburg, a decorated officer who began his journey with the Navy ROTC program in 1998 after completing his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Florida. Massenburg, who also holds a Master of Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, has garnered over 2,200 pilot hours across eight jet and prop aircraft models.

Massenburg expressed his gratitude, saying, “Captain Watkins’s steadfast support of the Air Traffic Control Community and the aviators that rely on those systems was exceptional. His tireless efforts…have set the roadmap for years to come.”

A glance at Massenburg’s illustrious career reveals his significant contributions. After his test tour at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, he served aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as a Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer. He further served with Program Executive Office Air, ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs (PEO(A)) and Program Executive Office Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)).

Before his current role, Massenburg worked as the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Rapid Capabilities Engineering & Integration/Webster Out Lying Field Military Director.

On the other hand, Watkins will now contribute as the NAVAIR Military Director of Systems Engineering/NAWC AD Systems Acquisition Group Military Director, eager to continue his support for the Naval Aviation Enterprise and NAVAIR.

Both officers leave an indelible mark on the PMA-213 program, ensuring the continuity of excellence and innovation in naval air traffic management systems.

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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