Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, MD – October 12, 2019 – Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 welcomed its newest commanding officer during a change of command ceremony Oct. 11 at NAS Patuxent River.

Rear Adm. Carl Chebi, program executive officer for C4I and Space Systems, and Marine Corps Col. Richard Marigliano, commodore of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, presided over the ceremony that began with an airborne change of command hundreds of feet above the squadron hangars during fly-bys where Capt. Johannes “Job” Jolly turned over leadership to Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mark “Ammo” Amspacher.

“Under your great leadership, VX-23 excelled,” said Chebi as he addressed Jolly. “You truly made a difference and performed magnificently.”

As commanding officer of VX-23, Jolly led a workforce of more than 2,000 military and civilian testers, engineers, scientists, pilots and other professionals. During his tenure he led over 8,400 test flights in 44 aircraft supporting 11 platforms.

“I am inspired by the significant accomplishments of VX-23 during Skipper Jolly’s tour,” said Marigliano. “The fleet is more lethal because of it and it is only possible because of great leadership and hard work from a talented diverse workforce.”

Jolly guided the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force through 2,500 test points to help meet initial operational capability and system design and development objectives. He was critical to the development of the EA-18G Next Generation Jammer, which significantly enhances the effectiveness of the Navy’s airborne electronic attack, and successfully led the first fixed-wing test of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

“The squadron epitomizes what I’ll miss most about the Navy,” said Jolly. “That those you work and serve with become your extended family.”

The retiring captain took one of his symbolic final flights with the strike test squadron over New York City on Oct. 4 in an F/A-18F Super Hornet — with incoming Amspacher’s name along the side — before closing out his 20 years of naval service.

Amspacher served as chief test pilot of VX-23 since March 2018 following a career supporting a number of combat and flight test projects on the EA-6B Prowler, EA-18G Growler, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the X-47 Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration. He has flown more than 25 different aircraft and accumulated over 2,400 total flight hours — 1,000 of which were in combat — largely spent in the Prowler.

“Know that I dedicate all that I am and all that I have to enable us to accomplish what VX-23 does so well for the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Amspacher. “I believe in unity, humility, integrity and excellence. Let’s roll.”

VX-23, NAWCAD’s largest test squadron, provides full spectrum flight test and evaluation for the fleet supporting aircraft including the F/A-18A-D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, T-45A/C Goshawk aircraft, and F-35B/C Lightning.

NAWCAD supports the research, development, engineering, test and evaluation of all Navy and Marine Corps air vehicle systems and trainers. It is the Navy’s largest warfare center with facilities in Patuxent River, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida, the command delivers high quality, affordable products in support of military operating forces worldwide.

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