The SAE Media Group are delighted to announce the first annual UAV Technology USA conference, taking place in Arlington, VA on the 6th and 7th February 2023.

The UAV Technology USA conference will take place in Arlington, VA as one of the leading conferences in the US dedicated to unmanned aerial systems and their evolving role in modern warfare. Attracting leading speakers and experts from all branches of the US military, as well as from international allies, this conference will be the place to meet, exchange information and gain access to the latest UAV technological solutions.


Colonel Paul Calhoun

Colonel Paul Calhoun

Program Manager, Tactical Technology Office, DARPA
Colonel William T. Collins Jr.

Colonel William T. Collins Jr.

Senior Materiel Leader, High Altitude ISR Division, ISR & SOF Directorate, US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Dr Robert J. Kraus

Dr Robert J. Kraus

Dean, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, University of North Dakota
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Meagher

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Meagher

Chief, Prime Division, AFWERX
Major General Walter Rugen

Major General Walter Rugen

Director , US Army Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team
Mr David M. Breede

Mr David M. Breede

Program Executive Officer, Special Reconnaissance, US Special Operations Command

Colonel Paul Calhoun

Program Manager, Tactical Technology Office, DARPA
Colonel Paul Calhoun

Colonel Paul J. Calhoun is a program manager at the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) focusing on distributed air operations and resilient energy networks. Prior to his position at DARPA, he researched disruptive technology applications for special operations at the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy. He was the Commander of the 418th Flight Test Squadron leading a test force of over 340 military, civilian, and contractors responsible for developmental test and evaluation of global mobility aircraft and parachute systems. This includes upgrades to the C5, C-17, KC-10, and KC-135, developmental test of the Air Force’s newest aircraft the KC-46, and executing advanced airdrop test missions for Air Mobility Command, the Missile Defense Agency and NASA.

Colonel Calhoun was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He received his commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 2002 where he was the top Academic graduate. He continued his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) earning a Master’s Degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He attended pilot training at Columbus AFB, MS where he was the #1 pilot graduate for 2006 as the Annual Orville Wright Award nominee. He began his operational career as a C-17 pilot at Charleston AFB, SC. He deployed multiple times to the Middle East in support of operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM and NEW DAWN where he had over 1,100 combat hours and 48 combat airdrops. As a lead Special Operations Evaluator pilot he flew worldwide missions in direct support of unconventional tactics. After attending USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB in 2012, he was the lead test pilot for the first air launched intermediate range ballistic missile launched to bolster Missile Defense Agency capabilities and provided developmental support for NASA’s new manned space capsule program. He led pioneering work in biometric sensors applications for measuring workload in flight test. Col Calhoun is a command pilot with over 3,400 hours in the C-17, KC-46, T-38, F-16, F/A-18, and 30 other aircraft.

Colonel Tyler Harris

Chief, ISR Sensors and FMS Systems, US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Colonel Tyler Harris

Colonel Tyler Harris

Chief, ISR Sensors and FMS Systems, US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Colonel Tyler Harris

Colonel William T. Collins Jr.

Senior Materiel Leader, High Altitude ISR Division, ISR & SOF Directorate, US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Colonel William T. Collins Jr.

Colonel William T. Collins Jr. is the Senior Materiel Leader, High Altitude Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Division, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. In this role, he leads a 365-member team of military, civilian and contractor personnel in the development, production, modernization and sustainment activities for the $12B RQ-4 and U-2 Portfolios. These critical ISR platforms provide high-altitude, global, day or night ISR capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peacetime, contingency and wartime operations.
Prior to his current position, Col Collins was the Deputy Director for Acquisition Career Management, where he was responsible for advising the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) on senior leader and acquisition workforce matters as well as supporting the acquisition workforce through policy and related actions regarding assignments, training and professional development.
Colonel Collins was commissioned through the ROTC program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has served in a variety of assignments including Senior Launch Systems Test Engineer for the Space and Missile Systems Center's Detachment 9, Assistant Director of Operations for the 36th Student Squadron at the Air and Space Basic Course, Flight Commander for the Electronic Systems Center’s Mission Planning Program Office, Chief of Developmental Engineering Assignments and Assignments Force Structure and Sustainment Branch Chief at the Air Force Personnel Center, F-15 Program Element Monitor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) Directorate of Global Power Programs, and deployed as the Engagements and Training Division Chief in the Office of the Defense RepresentativePakistan. Additionally, Colonel Collins served as Commander for the Defense Contract Management Agency’s (DCMA) Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations (AIMO)-Kelly and as the Acquisition Airmen Career Management Branch Chief at the Air Force Personnel Center.

Commander John Walters

Medium Medium and Long Range UAS Platform Manager (Groups 3-5), Office of Aviation Forces, US Coast Guard
Commander John Walters

CDR John Walters is currently stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters within the office of Aviation Forces where he oversees the Medium and Long Range (Groups 3-5) Unmanned Aircraft System programs. His previous tours include Coast Guard Air Stations New Orleans, LA, Traverse City, MI, and Atlantic City, NJ as a MH-65D Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner. He also served aboard Coast Guard Cutter FORWARD as Damage Control Assistant, earning both Engineer of the Watch and Deck Watch Officer qualifications. A native of Norfolk, VA, CDR Walters graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 2005, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. In 2020 he was awarded a Master of Science degree in Unmanned Systems from Embry-Riddle University. He and his wife Libby have two children.

Dr Parimal Kopardekar

Director, NASA Aeronautics Research Institute, NASA
Dr Parimal Kopardekar

Parimal Kopardekar (PK) serves as the Director of NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI). In this capacity, he is responsible for exploring new trends, research areas, collaborations, and partnerships relevant to aeronautics enterprise. Recently, he co-led a comprehensive needs assessment study for wildfire mitigations. In the past, he served as NASA's senior technologist for Air Transportation Systems. He invented Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM), to safely enable large-scale drone operations at lower altitudes which is now being globally adopted. He also chairs International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s unmanned aircraft system advisory group. He is a recipient of many awards, including the NASA Government Invention of the Year, NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Award, NASA Engineer of the Year Award, and the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America’s Promising Innovation Award. PK was named among 25 most influential people in the drone industry. He serves as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Aerospace Operations and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He also serves as an adjunct faculty and teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses related to operations management, supply chain management, and innovation. He holds Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in Industrial Engineering and a bachelor’s degree in Production Engineering.

Dr Robert J. Kraus

Dean, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, University of North Dakota
Dr Robert J. Kraus

Dr. Robert J. Kraus is the Dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, a world-renowned center for aerospace learning, nationally acclaimed for our achievements in collegiate aviation education, atmospheric sciences, space studies, and Earth system science and policy.

With 850 faculty and staff members serving 2,100 students from around the world, the Odegard School has earned an international reputation as one of the premiere Aviation and Aerospace colleges in the world. In addition to providing the highest quality education possible at a reasonable cost, the Odegard school has been very successful in garnering $18 million in externally funded contracts and research projects each year. With more than 130 airplanes, helicopters, and unmanned aerial systems, and a myriad of projects studying the Earth up to and through the sky, into space, to Mars and beyond, the School is leading the charge into the future of aerospace.

Prior to joining UND, Dr. Kraus served as the Associate Dean, Flight and Operations at Kent State University following a 28-year career in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Colonel. His final Air Force assignment was in Paris, France, where he was the Head of the Operations and Coordination Division in the NATO Science and Technology Organization Collaboration Support Office. His prior assignments were at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, at the US Air Force Academy, and as an operational and experimental test pilot in airlift aircraft.

Dr. Kraus has more than 3,300 hours in 35 aircraft as an aircraft commander, instructor and evaluator pilot, experimental test pilot and Hurricane Hunter.

Lieutenant Colonel Dustin Barbour

Director of Operations,16th Training Squadron, US Air Force
Lieutenant Colonel Dustin Barbour

Lt Col Dustin A. Barbour is the Director of Operations, 16th Training Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. He is responsible for overseeing the launch and recovery of all Holloman AFB-based MQ-9s in support of the largest single formal training unit in the United States Air Force. His team conducts and oversees more than 2,400 sorties and supervises the training of more than 700 students annually.
Lt Col Barbour also directs development of all MQ-9 training syllabi and training support materials used throughout Air Education and Training Command. He provides oversight and guidance for the maintenance and upgrade of more than 35 simulators, administers the training records of all students, and is responsible for all reporting to unit leadership and higher headquarters.
Lt Col Barbour is a 2005 graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Boston University. After receiving his officer’s commission in 2007 and graduating Undergraduate Pilot Training in 2009, he was assigned to Creech AFB, Nev. where he piloted MQ-1B Predators and MQ-9 Reapers. Lt Col Barbour was previously assigned to the 20th Attack Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Missouri where he served as the Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, managed the unit’s transition from the MQ-1B Predator to the MQ-9A Reaper, and deployed twice in support of Operations FREEDOM SENTINEL and INHERENT RESOLVE.

Lieutenant Colonel Julien Letarte

RPAS Project Director, DAR 8, Royal Canadian Air Force
Lieutenant Colonel Julien Letarte

LCol Julien Letarte was born in Ottawa, Ontario and grew up in Canada’s National Capital Region. He enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1998 at age 16 and was awarded a Bachelor’s degree in Space Sciences from the Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston.

After pilot training, Julien started flying the mighty CP140 Aurora. With two tours at 407 squadron on the Pacific Coast as well as an operational tour at 405 squadron and an instructional tour at 404 squadron on the Atlantic Coast, he participated in many exercises and operations worldwide. Some of these deployments include commanding Heron UAV missions over Afghanistan, flying the first operational CP140 mission over Iraq during operation Impact and patrolling the seas in support of NATO and coalition forces.

He graduated from the Joint Command and Staff Programme with a masters in Defence Studies and started working for the RCAF RPAS project as part of the Directorate of Air Requirements in Ottawa in 2020. Representing the Air Force, he manages requirements and prepares to integrate this new capability within the Canadian flight line.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael S. Chmielewski

Commander, 556th Test & Evaluation Squadron, US Air Force
Lieutenant Colonel Michael S. Chmielewski

Lt Col Michael S. Chmielewski is the Commander of the 556 Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES), Creech Air Force Base (AFB), Nev. The squadron conducts operational test on the MQ-9 Reaper weapons system. It supports higher headquarters test priorities, integrates emerging technology for Remotely Piloted Aircraft, and delivers and trains warfighters to the new capabilities and tactics.
Lt Col Chmielewski was commissioned from the United States Air Force Academy in 2004. He has 16 years of active duty service, is a graduate of the USAF Weapons Instructor Course, and has been assigned to bases in Japan, Texas, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, and Florida.
Lt Col Chmielewski has been the MQ-9 Formal Training Unit chief instructor and the wing weapons officer at Holloman AFB, N.M. He was the operations MQ-9 subject matter expert for Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command (HQ AFSOC) and the HQ AFSOC Weapons and Tactics Branch Chief.
While deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Lt Col Chmielewski was the deputy director of the Special Operations Liaison Element integrating the Special Operations Command Central Special Forces with the 609 Air and Space Operations Center. He is a Command Pilot with more than 2,700 hours. Prior to his current position, Lt Col Chmielewski was the Director of Operations, 556 Test and Evaluation Squadron, Creech AFB, Nev.

Lieutenant Colonel Ralf Kleindienst

Program Director HERON, Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment,Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw)
Lieutenant Colonel Ralf Kleindienst

Military Career
July 1983 Joining German Air Force (GAF)
Basic Military Training 6./GAF Training Regiment 3 in Roth
October 1983 50. Officers Course, GAF Military Training School Fürstenfeldbruck
October 1984 Studies Air and Space Technology, University German Armed Forces Munich
January 1988 Technical Officer, Maintenance Unit 11, GAF Support Regiment 1, Erding
April 1990 Lecturer, GAF Military Training School Fürstenfeldbruck
July 1992 Chief Maintenance Squadron, Fighter Bomber Wing 43 Oldenburg, Alpha Jet
July 1994 Armament Officer, GAF Armament Directorate, Logistic Planning Group
April 1996 Chief Maintenance Squadron Fighter Wing 73 Laage, MiG29, F4,
July 1998 Studies Political Science, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA
October 1999 Military Intelligence Office of the German Armed Forces, Branch Chief
Military Aircraft World Wide, Cologne later Gelsdorf
April 2002 Studies Military Science, Defence University Warsaw
July 2005 Senior Logistic Officer GAF Transformation Command, Cologne
October 2008 Batallion Commander, GAF Technical Training Centre, Faßberg
May 2010 Senior Desk Officer, MoD, Aircraft Technical Training
October 2012 Senior Desk Officer, GAF Command, Operational Logistic Doctrine, Cologne
December 2015 Deputy Programme Manager PEGASUS1
and Product Manager UAS2, Koblenz

Language: English 4443, Polish 2221, French Slight

Medal of Honor of the German Armed Forces
Military Advisor to the Chief of Staff, 12. DEUEinsKtg EUFOR
Participating INVICTUS GAMES 2016 in Orlando, Florida; INVICTUS GAMES 2017 in Toronto,
Canada, achieving two silver medals in recumbent trike

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hetherington

Director of Staff, 25th Attack Group, US Air Force
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hetherington

Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Slaughter

Chief of Autonomous Platforms, Air Force Futures, US Air Force
Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Slaughter

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Meagher

Chief, Prime Division, AFWERX
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Meagher

Lt Col Tom Meagher is the Chief of the AFWERX Prime Division. He leads the acceleration of emerging dual-use technology markets by leveraging government resources for rapid and affordable fielding for the Department of the Air Force.
Lt Col Meagher commissioned from the Air Force Academy in 2004. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, he has held positions as an operational B-52 pilot, program manager, and test and evaluation pilot for multiple aircraft platforms. Recent assignments include commanding the 419th Flight Test Squadron for B-1, B-2, and B-52 developmental test and C-12 training operations, followed by graduation from the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.

Major General Walter Rugen

Director , US Army Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team
Major General Walter Rugen

Major General Walter Rugen was born and raised in Onalaska, Wisconsin, and was commissioned through the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY in 1989.

His first assignment was as an aviation platoon leader, Camp Page, Republic of Korea. In 1992, he was assigned to 9-101st Aviation Battalion (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served in a variety of positions and commanded B/9-101st. MG Rugen was then assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), where he served as an MH-60K platoon leader and company operations officer in D/1-160 SOAR (A). From 2000-2002, he commanded D/160th SOAR (A) at Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station, Puerto Rico and flew extensively in Central/South America and the Caribbean. In 2003, he transitioned to become the battalion operations officer for 3rd Battalion 160th SOAR (A) at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, where he deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

In 2005 he was assigned as a strategic plans officer in the J5 at the United States Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. In 2007, MG Rugen commanded 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment and again deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2009-2011, MG Rugen was assigned to the Army Staff in the aviation directorate at the Pentagon, where worked on multiple strategic issues affecting Army Aviation. In 2011, he was designated an Army Fellow and served at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. From 2012-2014, he commanded the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade in the Republic of Korea. He then transitioned back to the Pentagon where he became the Chief Army Aviation Force Development Division in the Army G8 from 2014- 2016. From 2016-2017, he served as the Director of Materiel in HQDA G8 before serving as the 7th Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General - Support at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington from 2017-2018. Currently, MG Rugen is the Director of U.S. Army Futures Command’s Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

MG Rugen’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with numeral 4, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal with bronze star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (w/ 3 service stars), Iraq Campaign Medal (w/ 4 service stars), the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Master Aviator Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Army Staff Badge and Dominican Republic Parachutist Badge.

MG Rugen is married to the former Ms. Leigh Anne Boling and they have three wonderful children, Victoria, Jacob and Wesley.

Major Joseph Ritter

MQ-9 Command Evaluator / RPA Branch Chief, US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
Major Joseph Ritter


Major Joseph Ritter is the Lead Evaluator Pilot and MQ-9 Branch Chief, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida. He leads the management of MQ-9 flying and tactical standards for the command, providing operational guidance to 5 flying squadrons and over 700 aircrew, ensuring special operations MQ-9s continually meet the requirements of the Joint Force. He is AFSOC’s lead pilot for the introduction of SATCOM launch and recovery.

Maj Ritter entered the Air Force in 2008, and initially flew the RC-135 Rivet Joint. In 2012, he became a Project Engineer with the Big Safari Program, flying the RC-135, NC-135, and KC-135, and was central to the United Kingdom RC-135 acquisition. In 2015 he cross-trained to the MQ-9 Reaper, leading operations in multiple attack squadrons before moving to AFSOC in 2020. Maj Ritter has deployed to CENTCOM, EUCOM, and PACOM, and has supported operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya. His research on remotely piloted aircraft operations has been published by War on the Rocks and the Modern War Institute.

Major Keenan Chirhart

Senior UAS Capabilities Integration Officer, Combat Development and Integration, Capabilities Development Directorate, Aviation Combat Element, Air Vehicle Integration Branch, US Marine Corps
Major Keenan Chirhart

Major Chirhart was born 18 December 1985 in Anchorage, Alaska. Growing up in Alaska, Maj Chirhart held a number of jobs at an early age, and was actively engaged in sports and extracurricular activities. He graduated from Dimond High School in 2004. Following high school graduation, he attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Astrospace Engineering and on May 23rd, 2008 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

After graduation, Second Lieutenant Chirhart attended The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia from June 2008 through January 2009. After completing basic officer training, he reported to MATSG-21 in Pensacola, FL to begin aviation pre-indoctrination. His primary flight training consisted of familiarization, navigation, and formation training in the T-34C as part of VT-2, and advanced flight training in the TH-57B and TH-57C with HT-28.
First Lieutenant Chirhart was winged on 17 December 2010 and reported to HMLA(T)-303 in Camp Pendleton CA for flight training in the UH-1Y. He completed the FRS and reported to HMLA-367 "Scarface" where he worked as the
Ground Safety and NATOPS Officer until the squadron re-located to MAG-29 in Hawaii in 2011. Capt Chirhart spent 2 months as an augment pilot to HMLA-169 "Vipers" during Operation RIMPAC in 2012, before reporting to HMLA-267 "Stingers" where he became a schedule writer and the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Officer.

In February 2013, Capt Chirhart deployed on an IA billet with MAG-50, MWHS-3 to Isa Air Base in Bahrain. During this time he served as the Senior Watch Officer, monitoring and coordinating the actions of aircraft in support of
CENTCOM operations, and was also trained as the Personnel Recovery Coordinator, implementing training and communication architecture to support the CENTCOM Joint Personnel Recovery Center. Capt Chirhart returned to
HMLA-267 in September 2013 where he assumed the duties as the Corrosion Control, HAZMAT, Flight Equipment, and Airframes Division OIC. Following his assignment in the maintenance department, Capt Chirhart transitioned into the operations department where he served as the Current Operations Officer, overseeing the daily flight schedule and supervising the actions of the operations duty officer while progressing in the UH-1Y syllabus, achieving
his designations as a basic instructor pilot, terrain flight instructor, weapons training officer, forward air controller airborne, and night systems instructor. In 2015, Capt Chirhart graduated from the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-16 and upon his return to the squadron assumed the duties as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor and the squadron's UH-1Y pilot training officer. During this time Capt Chirhart earned his qualifications as a defensive aerial combat maneuvering instructor (DACM-I), forward air controller airborne instructor (FAC(A)-I), Air Mission Commander, and NATOPS instructor.

In November 2016, Captain Chirhart deployed with HMLA-267 to Okinawa Japan in support of the Unit Deployment Program. During this deployment, Capt Chirhart flew over 220 hours and developed and implemented procedures for UH-1Y Bambi bucket operations, sustaining the HMLA support to firefighting operations on the island of Okinawa. Capt Chirhart also earned a Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal for planning, organizing, and leading a week long squadron detachment for training on the island of Ie Shima.

After returning from deployment in May 2017, Capt Chirhart accepted orders to the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One in Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. During this time Capt Chirhart served as the
Airframes officer in charge, and participated in multiple test and evaluation projects including testing the Intrepid Tiger II, TTP development for full motion video/digital interoperability, Future Vertical Lift Maneuverability/Agility study, an Army Aviation Development Directorate (ADD) sponsored Manned/Unmanned teaming (MUM-T) training event, small UAS and H-1 integration TTP development, Joint Aircrew Survival Mask gas chamber testing, and augmented multiple WTI courses as a UH-1Y WTI instructor.

In October 2018, he was promoted to Major and during his remaining time at VMX-1 completed the USMC Command and Staff Distance Education Program, Lean Six Sigma Yellow and Green Belt training, and Defense Acquisition University level 1.

During his tour at VMX-1, Major Chirhart took an interest in the unmanned aircraft community, submitted for re-designation, and was accepted for transition to the Unmanned Aircraft Officer 7315 MOS. He then accepted orders to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron One in Yuma Arizona, and after attending the Unmanned Aircraft Commander's RQ-21A Mobile Training Team Course, Maj Chirhart received his 7315 designation and Unmanned
Aircraft Officer wings.

After joining VMU-1 in July 2019, Major Chirhart was assigned as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer, and department head of the Operational Support Department (OSD). As the OSD department head, Maj Chirhart coordinated the
functions of the S-4, S-6, and aviation maintenance division, to support the squadron's operational and training requirements. Maj Chirhart quickly learned his new community and platform, and after only 3 months in the squadron, planned, coordinated, and led a squadron wide detachment for training called Exercise Chaos Scorpion. This event was meant to enforce the squadron's bounding launch and recovery capability, utilizing organic ground support assets to move to, and fly from, multiple locations within the R-2507 north and south aerial gunnery training ranges. During his time as Aircraft Maintenance Officer, Maj Chirhart also led the maintenance department through multiple detachments for training in support of exercises Summer Fury, Steel Knight, Integrated Training Exercises, and WTI courses, all while preparing the squadron for the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13, Third Marine Air Wing, and Commander Naval Air Forces maintenance inspections. Later assigned as the MQ-9A department officer in charge, Major Chirhart led MQ-9A aircrew and augment Unmanned Mission Commanders supporting Task Force Southwest from MCAS Yuma in support of OPERATION RESOLUTE SUPPORT and OPERATION FREEDOM SENTINEL.

In May of 2020, Maj Chirhart assumed the duties as the unit's Operations Officer, coordinating the specific training, scheduling, and operational support for MQ-9 aircrew. At this time, the unit was simultaneously operating two distinctly separate type/model/series aircraft, as well as preparing for the divestment of the RQ-21A, and generating TTPs for Group 5 employment in the CENTCOM AOR. During this time, Maj Chirhart continued progression through the RQ-21A syllabus, becoming a Basic Instructor Pilot and Weapons Training Officer before departing to Holloman AFB in New Mexico to receive his MQ-9A qualification. As a member of A Flight in the 6th Attack Squadron, Maj Chirhart graduated as the top pilot, and top overall academic student, earning the 7318 MOS upon graduation. Upon returning to VMU-1, Maj Chirhart assumed the role as Executive Officer, and continued progression through the MQ-9A T&R syllabus as the squadron continued to build the foundation for the MQ-9A enterprise throughout the Marine Corps through TTP development, transition to 24/7/365 work schedule, and acquisition of the Marine Corps' first two MQ-9As and associated ground equipment.

In May 2022, Maj Chirhart executed orders to the Capabilities Development Directorate of USMC Combat Development and Integration, where he currently serves as the Senior UAS Capabilities Integration Officer with the Air
Vehicle Integration Branch, Aviation Combat Element.

Major Chirhart's personal awards include two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, as well as multiple letters of appreciation. He is an FAA Certified Private Pilot
who is rotary and fixed wing instrument and commercial rated, and holds a Part 107 small UAS license. He has over 1,820 hours in the T-34C, TH-57, and UH-1Y aircraft.

Mr Bradford J Drake

AAM Project Manager Government / Industry Partnerships, AUS-440, Federal Aviation Administration
Mr Bradford J Drake

Brad Drake is a Project Manager for the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office, Implementation Branch (AUS-440). Brad joined the FAA in 2012. His initial role was in the ATO at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as an Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) technician. He transferred to San Antonio International Airport (SAT) and served as ILS and COMM technician, routinely filling the role as EIC for the SSC manager. Additionally, has worked at Providence International Airport (PVD) as an ILS and ASR-9 technician for the ATO. Brad’s current focus is on the safe integration of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operations into the National Air Space.

Prior to working for the FAA, Brad worked for Boeing in the Core Engineering team at the production facility in Charleston, SC. He worked trouble shooting build plans, overcoming challenges with carbon fiber and process improvements with reducing forces exerted on IML surfaces. Brad began his aviation career in the United States Air Force (1999) and United States Navy (2009). Brad started his Air Force career as Avionics Technician on the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and C-141 Starlifter. Brad was assigned to Rota, Spain in direct support of the Special Warfare operations during 2002-2007. He later cross-trained to Combat Communications, stationed at Wright Patterson AFB, H., supporting operations during OEF/OIF. He concluded his military career in 2015 in the Reserves in California. Brad holds an FCC General Radiotelephone Operator license and numerous FAA ATO NAS equipment certifications. Brad has a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics/Aviation Management with a minor in Aviation Safety from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Brad also has a Master of Business Administration from Webster University with a concentration in IT Management.

Brad is on the board of officers for the Native American Alaskan Native (NAAN) as the organizations treasurer. Brad loves to spend time in church, spending time with his children, reading, lifting weights, skiing, deep sea fishing and scuba diving.

Mr Darshan Divakaran

Senior Manager, Strategic Innovation & Partnerships, AFWERX
Mr Darshan Divakaran

Darshan “Dash” Divakaran is an aerospace intrapreneur and technology evangelist with expertise in unmanned aviation, aviation development, geospatial analysis, emerging technologies, and program management. His areas of expertise in unmanned aviation also includes Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), Counter-UAS (CUAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). He has led efforts to work with federal, state, public safety, industry, and academia to
develop, integrate and manage national/statewide programs and initiatives. He has been recognized by Interdrone and Commercial UAV News as one of the top commercial drone visionaries.
Darshan works for AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of Air Force, as the Senior Manager for Strategic Innovation & Partnerships. In this role he leads efforts to promote innovation and integration through joint operations, interagency, state, and academic partnerships. In addition, he supports the industry engagement, outreach, and educational initiatives for AFWERX. He is also the government subject matter expert for Advanced Air
Mobility (AAM), Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) and Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) on the AFWERX Agility Prime program, a non-traditional program to accelerate the commercial market for advanced air mobility vehicles and create a robust domestic industry and supply chain to support their development and production.
Darshan holds a Masters in Geospatial Information Science and Technology from North Carolina State University and BS in Professional Aeronautics and Aviation Management from EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University. He is also an FAA certified commercial pilot with multi engine rating and holds a FAA part 107 remote pilot certificate.

Mr David Fulcher

Director, Air and Marine Operations, National Air Security Operations Center - Grand Forks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Mr David Fulcher

David Fulcher is the Director, Air and Marine Operations, National Air Security Operations Center - Grand Forks for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations. Air and Marine Operations is the world’s largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization with 1,800 Federal agents, operating from 84 air and marine locations utilizing 240 aircraft and 300 maritime vessels. The mission of Air and Marine Operations is to protect the American people and Nation’s critical infrastructure through the coordinated use of integrated air and marine forces to detect, interdict, and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs, and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. Air and Marine Operations is the most experienced operator of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the Homeland Security mission set on the world stage.
Appointed as the Director in July of 2021, Mr. Fulcher joined the Air and Marine Operations as an Air Interdiction Agent in June 2007. Before joining Air and Marine Operations, Mr. Fulcher served in the U.S. Navy for 14 years, continuing to serve as a Commander in the Naval Reserve.
Throughout his career, he gained extensive experience in air combat, air training, standardization, and UAS operations. Following his commissioning in 1998, he attended flight school and was designated a Naval Aviator at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christ, Texas, in May 2000. Mr. Fulcher flew the P-3C aircraft, flying in combat and serving as a flight instructor and weapons instructor at the Fleet Replacement Squadron. Mr. Fulcher has attained more than 2,000 flight hours in multiple aircraft types including over 200 combat hours. As an Air Interdiction Agent, Mr. Fulcher flew the C550 Citation, the MQ-9 Predator B and served as a crewmember and tactical team leader on the
UH-60 and AS-350 helicopters.
Mr. Fulcher has served in numerous leadership positions in both Air and Marine Operations and the U.S. Navy. These positions include Deputy Director of Air Operations, Chief of Training at NASOC-GF, Chief Staff Officer of Naval Reserve Carrier Strike Group Five, Government Flight Representative for the CBP MQ-9 contract, Officer-In-Charge of Special Warfare Command UAS Detachment Sentinel II in Iraq, and Officer-In-Charge of CBP UAS Operations in Panama, Colombia, and Mexico.
Mr. Fulcher received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1998, his Master of Science in Information Technology from Florida Institute of Technology in 2013 and holds an Airline Transport Pilot’s license. His honors include the CBP Commissioner’s Award, CBP Commissioner’s Unit Citation, AMO Executive Assistant Commissioner’s Award, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Commendation Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V and Gold Star.

Mr David M. Breede

Program Executive Officer, Special Reconnaissance, US Special Operations Command
Mr David M. Breede

Mr. David M. Breede is the Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Special Reconnaissance (SR) at the HQ US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), MacDill AFB, FL. He is responsible for synchronizing the development, testing, acquisition, and fielding of SOF-Peculiar systems for technical collection, intelligence support, and sensitive site exploitation. Mr. Breede directs a cross functional team of professionals to execute a portfolio of military intelligence systems acquisition and rapid capability insertion research and development programs.
Mr. Breede, a native of Stafford, Virginia, joined the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) at Dahlgren, VA as a Mechanical Engineer, Standard Missile Test and Instrumentation after graduating from Virginia Tech where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science & Mechanics. After 10 years at NSWC, he moved on to the Test & Evaluation Directorate of the US Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Program.
For three years he served as a systems engineer supporting all phases of developmental and operational testing. At USSOCOM, he has served as an acquisition program manager for a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration and as the Director for the Integrated Strike Programs for PEO Fixed Wing. As director he was responsible for the execution of the AC-130J nextgeneration gunship ACAT II EMD Program; AC-130W ACAT III evolutionary acquisition program; and Precision Guided Munition commodity procurement program.
Mr. Breede is a career acquisition and engineering professional and a graduate of the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.

Mr Dennis A. Teefy

Project Director, Sensors-Aerial Intelligence, Program Executive Office, Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors
Mr Dennis A. Teefy

Dennis A. Teefy was chartered as the Project Director Sensor Aerial Intelligence in April 2020. He is leading an organization responsible for the delivery of the Army’s premier Aerial Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AISR) sensors to enable the timely dissemination of intelligence products to meet current and future warfighter needs.
Mr. Teefy joined the US Army as a post graduate intern with the US Army Environmental Center as a program manager focusing on innovative environmental technology development and transfer.
In 2000, he joined the US Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) as a test director specializing in training range sustainment and Unexploded Ordnance detection technologies. He then served a developmental assignment as the Technical Assistant to the Commander. Leaving the developmental detail, he became the Division Chief of the Military Environmental Technology Demonstration Center.
In 2006, ATC faced the need to fundamentally change the manner in which it conducted testing in order to react to the rapid fielding of systems to meet the Warfighter’s need. To that end, Mr. Teefy was tasked to stand up and run the Rapid Fielding & Equipping Office.
Completing this mission in 2008, Mr. Teefy became the Division Chief of the Homeland Defense & Sustainment Division. This assignment was followed by assuming the position of ATC Safety Office Chief in 2009. He was tasked to implement the new Incident and Injury Free Safety Program, streamline the risk assessment review process, and to develop a new test director training program.
Mr. Teefy was board selected to participate in the Defense Acquisition University Senior Service College Fellowship. He graduated with the 2010-2011 cohort.
In May 2011, Mr. Teefy was appointed to the position of Product Director (PdD) of Cryptographic Systems within Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) under Project Director Communications Security. In February 2014, he assumed the Director Communications Security.
In February 2014, he assumed the position of PdD Key Management within PEO C3T under Project Director Network Enablers. In March 2015, he was selected to be the Deputy Project Lead, Network Enablers. While at PEO C3T
he completed the modernization of the Army’s Cryptographic Network, began fielding the new Key Management Infrastructure, and lead the transition of the Product Lead Military Technology Solutions to PEO Enterprise Information
Throughout his career, Mr. Teefy has demonstrated a passion for human capital management. He is an active mentor on Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), organized summer intern programs, provided leadership to Morale Committees, and holds bi monthly professional development workshops for the APG workforce.
His awards include four Achievement Medals for Civilian Service, six Commander’s Awards for Civilian Service, and a Superior Civilian Service Award. He was presented the Bronze Order of Mercury by the US Army Signal
Regiment. He was also selected as one of the 25 individuals to represent US Army Acquisition Corps on its 25th anniversary.
Mr. Teefy obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from West Virginia University (WVU) in 1995, Master of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University in 2003, and Master of Arts
degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University in 2011.
He is a US Army Acquisition Corps Member with Level III certifications in both Program Management and Test & Evaluation.
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Mr. Teefy lives in Havre de Grace, MD with his wife Bonnie Jo and their children Morgan, Sam, and Eli. His hobbies include traditional Korean martial arts, playing poker, salt water fishing, attending
Baltimore Ravens games, supporting the Havre de Grace High School Athletic and Band Boosters, volunteering with the Girl and Boy Scouts, and rooting for his beloved WVU Athletic teams.

Mr Patrick C. OBrien

Deputy Director/Engineer, Aviation Platforms Requirements Determination Directorate, US Army Aviation Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate
Mr Patrick C. OBrien

Mr. Patrick C. O’Brien is the Deputy Director of Aviation Platforms Requirements Determination Directorate and the Supervisory Engineer for the Army Aviation Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate. He graduated from the United States Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering in June 1991 and the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering in May 2001. At Georgia Tech, he was one of three Army Officers that led a team of engineers that won the 2000 NASA/American Helicopter Society design competition for proof of concept for a Martian Helicopter. He is a Master Army Aviator with operational assignments as Pilot in Command of the AH-1F C-Nite Cobra, AH-64A/C Apache, C-12 Huron, and C-182 Skylane. He was an Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy teaching the Aerospace Engineering courses. He served as a Space Operations Officer (FA-40) as the Director of Ground Test Operations (HWIL) for Missile Defense Agency and Senior Missile Defense/Missile Warning Instructor at the National Security Space Institute.

Wing Commander Alex Lloyd

SO1 Protector - Pg Mgr Protector, Royal Air Force
Wing Commander Alex Lloyd

Wing Commander Lloyd is an Intelligence Officer and is currently employed as the Protector Programme Manager, Air Cap, RAF High Wycombe.

Prior to joining the RAF, Lloyd attended Salford University where he completed a BA(Hons) in contemporary military and international history; he went on to study part-time for an MA in intelligence and security studies whilst working in Salford.

Following completion of professional training in 2010, Lloyd was posted to RAF Brampton as an imagery analyst and team leader within JARIC. In 2012, Lloyd completed a detachment to Camp Leatherneck embedded with the US Marine Corps in the RC(SW) ISR HQ. Upon his return, Lloyd was attached to 12(Bomber) Sqn as the Sqn IntO, based at RAF Lossiemouth, during which time he completed a further detachment to Kandahar Airfield in Summer 2013. In February 2014, Lloyd was posted to the Air Intelligence Centre, then based at RAF Waddington. He led a small team tasked with assessing the threats to UK military aircraft in the Middle East and North Africa. From here, he deployed to the CAOC, Al Udeid and ran a team of US intelligence analysts covering threats to operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider Gulf region. Lloyd returned from theatre and took up post as OC Crossbow within 1 ISR Wg, RAF Wyton where he managed the processing, exploitation and dissemination of intelligence derived from various RPAS.

Following promotion to Sqn Ldr in May 2018, Lloyd completed a staff tour as SO2 A2 within HQ Air Command, RAF High Wycombe. He subsequently deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait where he was responsible for ISR planning for Op SHADER. On his return, Lloyd took up post as XO 1 ISR Wg, overseeing the management and intelligence production of the UK’s largest PED organisation. He has recently completed a part-time MA in air power in the modern world as part of the CAS Fellowship programme.

Lloyd has been Protector Programme Manager following promotion to Wg Cdr in Jul 2022.



Hilton Arlington

950 North Stafford Street, Arlington VA, Virginia, USA

A number of our clients have been approached by third party organisations offering to book hotel rooms. We would advise that you do not book through them as they are not representing the SMi Group. SMi Group books all hotel rooms directly. If you are approached by a third party organisation then please contact us before making any bookings. If you have already booked a hotel room using a third party organisation, we would highly recommend contacting the hotel you were booked into to ensure a booking has been made for you. We would also advise you to please check the terms and conditions of the booking carefully.

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Defence Global


Defence Global provides an essential link between the Defence & Security Manufacturers and Suppliers, Government and Military sectors globally. Defence Global is a quarterly, tri-service publication providing articles and informative analysis from respected journalists and writers worldwide to attract a sophisticated and broad audience. Defence Global is published in February, May, August and November, with a professional and stylish design in both printed copy and digital format. The printed copies are perfect bound, full colour throughout with high quality art and photography. Defence Global is used as a reference tool providing a professional and intelligent read. We work with industry experts and corporate clients to include Defence and Security Manufacturers and Suppliers, as well as Governments, MoDs, Military Authorities and Senior Management Teams.

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Unmanned Systems Technology (UST) is dedicated to technology and innovation within unmanned air, land, sea and space systems. UnmannedSystemsTechnology.com provides insight into new products, technologies and suppliers within the unmanned systems sector. Unmanned Systems Technology magazine is a technical publication that delves into the science and engineering of unmanned systems.

21st Century Asian Arms Race


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Robotics Tomorrow


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Armada International


ARMADA INTERNATIONAL is leading defence magazine which reports on and analyses defence systems, equipment and technology. Together with its Compendium supplements, ARMADA provides defence planners in the militaries, in government, in procurement and in the defence industry itself with the information they need to plan their strategies.

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Defence Online is one of the fastest-growing communities of key decision makers representing defence sector buyers and influencers within the Ministry of Defence, Prime Contractors and Industry. Providing up-to-date and informative news, insight and intelligence, Defence Online allows organisations to engage directly with a range of sector-based solutions, designed specifically to enhance their knowledge and understanding of this ever-evolving marketplace. No matter the size of your organisation, Defence Online has a range of advertising and marketing solutions to suit your business development requirements, connecting you with a marketplace worth over £19 billion annually in the UK alone.

Uncrewed Systems Technology Magazine


Uncrewed Systems Technology magazine focuses entirely on the innovative engineering that's successfully pushing boundaries on land, at sea, in flight and even through the universe. The magazine is unique - the first ever publication to focus entirely on providing independent coverage of the engineering at the heart of uncrewed vehicles. It applies the same rigorous scientific approach to this brave new world as critically acclaimed Race Engine Technology has brought to the subject of racing powertrain technology. Published 6-times a year, we probe today's cutting-edge projects to provide in-depth research insights - rigorous investigation is backed by professional peer review and critical analysis.



The DEFENCE SUPPLIERS DIRECTORY is an authoritative online information resource for all defence purchasers. This comprehensive listing of Defence Suppliers has enabled thousands of purchasing professionals to find exactly what they are looking for - in seconds. THE DEFENCE SUPPLIERS DIRECTORY provides a total overview of all the UK's Armed Forces - with a wealth of valuable information about the organisation and structure of the UK's Defence Services, as well as useful facts about developments in the UK Defence Industry Contact us: defenceenquiries@armedforces.co.uk Tel: 01743 241962 website: www.armedforces.co.uk

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Hilton Arlington

950 North Stafford Street
Arlington VA 22203

Hilton Arlington



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CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development’. It is essentially a philosophy, which maintains that in order to be effective, learning should be organised and structured. The most common definition is:

‘A commitment to structured skills and knowledge enhancement for Personal or Professional competence’

CPD is a common requirement of individual membership with professional bodies and Institutes. Increasingly, employers also expect their staff to undertake regular CPD activities.

Undertaken over a period of time, CPD ensures that educational qualifications do not become obsolete, and allows for best practice and professional standards to be upheld.

CPD can be undertaken through a variety of learning activities including instructor led training courses, seminars and conferences, e:learning modules or structured reading.


There are approximately 470 institutes in the UK across all industry sectors, with a collective membership of circa 4 million professionals, and they all expect their members to undertake CPD.

For some institutes undertaking CPD is mandatory e.g. accountancy and law, and linked to a licence to practice, for others it’s obligatory. By ensuring that their members undertake CPD, the professional bodies seek to ensure that professional standards, legislative awareness and ethical practices are maintained.

CPD Schemes often run over the period of a year and the institutes generally provide online tools for their members to record and reflect on their CPD activities.


Professional bodies and Institutes CPD schemes are either structured as ‘Input’ or ‘Output’ based.

‘Input’ based schemes list a precise number of CPD hours that individuals must achieve within a given time period. These schemes can also use different ‘currencies’ such as points, merits, units or credits, where an individual must accumulate the number required. These currencies are usually based on time i.e. 1 CPD point = 1 hour of learning.

‘Output’ based schemes are learner centred. They require individuals to set learning goals that align to professional competencies, or personal development objectives. These schemes also list different ways to achieve the learning goals e.g. training courses, seminars or e:learning, which enables an individual to complete their CPD through their preferred mode of learning.

The majority of Input and Output based schemes actively encourage individuals to seek appropriate CPD activities independently.

As a formal provider of CPD certified activities, SAE Media Group can provide an indication of the learning benefit gained and the typical completion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the delegate to evaluate their learning, and record it correctly in line with their professional body’s or employers requirements.


Increasingly, international and emerging markets are ‘professionalising’ their workforces and looking to the UK to benchmark educational standards. The undertaking of CPD is now increasingly expected of any individual employed within today’s global marketplace.

CPD Certificates

We can provide a certificate for all our accredited events. To request a CPD certificate for a conference , workshop, master classes you have attended please email events@saemediagroup.com

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