Heck Castelein navy patuxent river
Capt. Carey Castelein, right, relieves Capt. Thomas Heck, left, and assumes command of the Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202) during a change of command ceremony held Feb. 24 at Patuxent River, Md. 

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202) welcomed a new program manager during a ceremony held 24 Feb. in Patuxent River, Md.  

Program Executive Officer for Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services (PEO(CS)), Mr. Gary M. Kurtz, presided over the change of command ceremony during which Capt. Carey Castelein assumed command of PMA-202 from Capt. Tom Heck. 

Kurtz said he credits Heck’s collaborative leadership style and unwavering fleet-focus as the key to the program’s success. “Heck set the tone for the program office to do whatever it took to put the warfighter first, because the program truly is aircrew systems – from technology that enables aircrew to see at night to providing clean air to breathe to the ejection seat that could save their lives one day – the program office serves the aircrew in every sense of the word.”

As the Aircrew Systems program manager, Heck led a workforce of more than 160 team members that achieved a number of great successes, such as the development of an improved downed aircrew locator beacon; delivery of the redesigned MH-60 gunner seats to the fleet; delivery of new Non-Combat Survival Radios; completed acquisition of Enhanced Emergency Oxygen systems, which are a key part of physiological episode mitigation; and the PMA-202 FAILSAFE team’s immediate fleet engagement and training on continuity of operations during the initial stages of COVID. The program office achieved these successes while successfully conducting an office move supporting not only the hybrid work environment but also eliminated historical program facilities costs. During Capt. Heck’s tenure, PMA-202 was selected for the 2020 NAVAIR Commander’s Award, the 2021 NAWCAD Commander’s Award and the 2021 Michael G. Simodejka Award.     

“I cannot take credit for these achievements,” said Heck. “They’re the result of my dedicated team members, who work hard at delivering increased capability to the warfighter every day, no matter what time of day they are called.” He said, “It’s been an honor to be part of a team that has been on the forefront of delivering cutting-edge aircrew systems to the warfighter,” said Heck. I know this office is in good hands and prepped for the future. 

Heck will retire from the Navy after 26 years of service. 

Castelein joined the NAVAIR workforce at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron ONE (VX-1) at Patuxent River, Md.; then became a plankowner of the MH-60R Fleet Replacement Squadron, HSM-41 in San Diego, CA; and he completed a joint tour with U.S. Special Operations Command as the deputy inspector general.   

Castelein also completed tours as a Level I integrated product team lead and deputy program manager at the Multi-Mission Helicopter program office (PMA-299). Prior to assuming command of PMA-202, Castelein served as the executive assistant to the principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition).  

“I’m thrilled to be joining this team of like-minded individuals. Working closely with the fleet throughout the acquisition process to bring them capabilities that will be able to be used in an operational environment as designed faster than ever before is something I am looking forward to doing – and I know this team will help us do just that,” said Capt. Carey Castelein, PMA-202 program manager.  

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