Capt. Rick McQueen who became the first program manager for the newly formed Tomahawk Weapons System Program Office relieved Capt. Bob Novak, who was the Tomahawk All-Up-Round program manager.
Novak graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 and after earning his wings as a Naval aviator, flew operationally in the P-3C Orion with patrol squadrons 24, 44, 26, and VX-1. In 1997, Novak gained acquisition experience as the PMA-273 deputy program manager followed by a tour in the Pentagon in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition supporting air programs. Later, Novak led the Joint Strike Fighter Team through the final development of contractor concepts for source selection. He began leading the Tomahawk All-Up-Round program team in 2002 during a critical time in the development of the Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile. Under his leadership, the program awarded the Navy's first-ever weapons multi-year contract and was honored with several prominent awards including the Secretary of Defense Value Engineering Award, the Daedalian Award, and the Ed Heinemann Award.
Novak said that when he first took command of Tomahawk All-Up-Round in 2002 his predecessor, Capt. Steve Morrow, told him that the PMA-280 team was the best in the world and if he learned to trust them, they wouldn't let him down. Morrow also said that when it was Novak's time to leave, it wouldn't be the details of the program that he'd remember it would be the people.
"He was right," Novak said. "The people I do remember and will remember always and forever, and they do mean the most to me."
Also during the ceremony Capt. Chris Sullivan, program manager for the former Cruise Missile Weapons Systems, retired after 26 years of Naval service.
Sullivan joined the Navy after graduating from Pennsylvania State University, and completed submarine officer pipeline training. His career with the submarine community has been extensive, and he has held positions of leadership on board USS Calhoun (SSBN 630), USS James Monroe (SSBN 622), USS George Washington Carver (SSBN 656), and ultimately as the commanding officer of USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720). Since 2001, Sullivan held command of PMA-282. He led the design, development, testing, fielding, and life cycle support of Tomahawk and Harpoon cruise missiles weapons control systems for U.S. surface ships and submarines and 24 foreign military sales customer. His leadership was vital in development and implementation of Human Systems Integration improvements, in application of LEAN manufacturing principles to the development of software intensive systems and in the successful initial operating capability and fielding of the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons System.
"Since it's time for me to go I request that you adopt my Sailors," Sullivan said during his farewell speech. "By this I mean you need to look after their combat effectiveness. You have to do it with the same energy and tenacity that you would expend to protect the lives of your children. I ask in this manner, because the combat effectiveness of these weapon systems makes a difference between life and death for Americans and our coalition allies in combat. So adopt my Sailors."
Rear Adm. Tim Heely, Program Executive Officer, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation, said that Sullivan's contributions to the Tomahawk program have been immense and greatly appreciated.
"I think through his demeanor, his understanding, his ability to talk to aviators and work us through some of the problems on submarines that we never imagined," Heely said. "I mean we just think it's all about airplanes. He explains that there are other parts that we have to figure out. I think that's the main reason why Tomahawk is such the success it is today."
Incoming program manager for the newly formed program office, McQueen, comes from the E-2C community, and early in his career was recognized as the top junior officer and selected as Hawkeye of the Year.
He first came to Pax River in 1988 when he was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and later as a
E-2C test Naval flight officer at the Naval Air Test Center with Force Warfare Directorate. In 1991 McQueen was named the Force Warfare Directorate Test NFO of the Year.
McQueen brings acquisition experience to the Tomahawk team. He served as the assistant program manager for PMA-200, and later PMA-205, and also the training Integrated Product Team lead for the Joint Strike Fighter. He then led the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle program through two defense acquisition boards. Before taking command here, McQueen served as the material and logistics officer for Strike Group 5 in Yokosuka, Japan.
"It is evident to me that much of the tremendous success of the Tomahawk weapon system can be attributed to the dedicated people working within these program offices under the leadership of Capt. Novak and Capt. Sullivan," McQueen said addressing his new team for the first time. "The obvious challenge I face is to ensure that this success continues .... My pledge to this new organization is to always put people first. I have many goals for this program, but out of the starting gate I'll strive for innovation, and foster key relationships and work to achieve strategic partnerships."
Heely praised the efforts of the entire Tomahawk community on fostering one of the greatest weapons systems to ever face an enemy. Heely said that the Tomahawk is so impressive that it can be programmed to hit a target exactly where, when, and how the programmers tell it. The Tomahawk is so intuitive it can also change direction, mid-flight, to hit a target of greater opportunity.
"This is an awesome, tremendous weapon," Heely said. "This is a precision weapon times three. Target, time and route. And to be a part of this program, you, who are a part of this in whatever respect, have saved more lives, more American and allied lives than you will ever, ever know, and that they will ever, ever know. Lives have been saved because this weapon was there and took the high ground early and let our forces go in and do what they needed to do. This is an awesome group of people creating an awesome weapon and I thank you for that."