Unmanned Aircraft Systems SME, LeVanta Tech

Jon Smith (UAS Test Pilot):

Jon has served over 20 years on Active Duty and in the Reserves as a U.S. Navy Pilot for both manned and unmanned aircraft. During his active duty time, Jon was an Instructor Pilot for U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron Two Six (VP-26) flying a P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft completing multiple deployments around the world. From there he served as Deputy Operations Branch Manager at the Joint Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence in charge of developing Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) for the joint employment of unmanned aircraft for the U.S. Military. Following his tour with the Joint Staff, Jon served as a Pilot/UAS Test Project Manager at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Thirty (VX-30). While in charge of multiple UAS test projects, Jon laid the groundwork for permanent UAS operations at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, established requirements for personnel, training, maintenance, and sustainment for multiple UAS systems, provided program development and contract oversight for a brand-new UAS (RQ-21A Blackjack), and secured over $2M in funding to stand up an ongoing aviation test support program for the squadron.

Outside of his military service, Jon continued his UAS discipline as a consultant for public entities attempting to stand up their own UAS programs. He also worked as a MQ-8C FireScout UAS Instructor Pilot for NTA Inc. and served as Sr Principal Pilot for UAS at Northrop Grumman on the Navy’s RQ-4A High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) demonstrator.

As Director of Research Activities at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Jon oversaw the direction and strategy of a $30MM Office of Naval Research (ONR) contract aimed at developing high power microwave systems to counter unmanned aircraft.

After over 20 years in military and civilian aviation, leadership, and management positions, Jon has gained experience that spans across all 5 UAS groups, from field operations to high level policy making, has amassed thousands of unmanned flight hours in both test and operational environments, and has worked with multiple agencies, both public and private, throughout the United States.

He received a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from the United States Naval Academy.

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