Tailhook Day 2 Features Aviation Flag Panel

SPARKS, Nev. - Naval Aviation flag and general officers from around the fleet joined together on September 10, 2021, for the Flag Panel at the annual Tailhook symposium—Hook ’21—to discuss current and future issues in Naval Aviation with naval aviators, industry partners and veterans.

Moderated by Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander Naval Air Forces, the Flag Panel also included Lt. Gen. Mark Wise, USMC Deputy Commandant for Aviation; Vice Adm. Frank Morley, Principal Military Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition); Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey, Commander, Navy Personnel Command; Rear Adm. John Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic; Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, Director, Air Warfare Division, N98, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations; Rear Adm. Robert Westendorff, Chief of Naval Air Training; and Capt. Max McCoy, Commander, Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, who was selected for promotion to rear admiral in June 2021.

The members of the panel fielded questions from Hook ‘21 attendees regarding new processes and procedures in Naval Aviation and initiatives that impact the entire Naval Aviation workforce. The panel gave active-duty and reserve naval aviators the opportunity to ask senior leaders questions about the future of Naval Aviation.

One of the topics raised by an attendee centered on how to improve integrated training with the Navy’s Surface Warfare community to better leverage the capability of Naval Aviation platforms.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve made major strides in integrating Naval Aviation across the force, but that is spreading out into the surface community,” McCoy responded. “We also work with the submarine force, as well as cyber and space.”

McCoy also answered a question about increasing the opportunities for more realistic and combat-informed training events for naval aviators. “As we look at how we’re fighting, ultimately it’s all about integration across the forces. It’s about a carrier strike group that’s integrated, one that can maneuver, fire and work in a distributed way with another carrier strike group,” said McCoy.

The panel discussion also addressed carrier readiness and how the delivery schedule of new carriers impacts the overall readiness of Naval Aviation. Whitesell assured the group that carrier readiness and future deliveries were a top priority. “The readiness of the carriers and the inventory of the carriers is a conversation we have with our industry ship building partners. As they start rolling carriers out, they need to be delivered on time and on cost for us to satisfy the need to be forward. That is the reason we exist as a Navy—to be forward,” said Whitesell.

Following the Aviation Flag Panel, Whitesell met with junior officers for a more focused discussion regarding early career opportunities and expectations for junior officers in Naval Aviation.

Along with the Flag Panel, Tailhook hosted industry leaders discussing the many ways their companies support Naval Aviation.

For additional information and coverage of Hook ’21, follow the NAE on Facebook @NAEready and on Twitter @NAE_Readiness.

The Tailhook Symposium is an annual event run by the Tailhook Association— an independent, nonprofit organization supporting aircraft carrier and other sea-based aviation.

The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a collaborative warfighting partnership where Naval Aviation leaders leverage their assigned authorities to deliberate and resolve interdependent issues across the whole of Naval Aviation to provide combat ready naval air forces to the fleet.