Soldier sees bright future for long range aircraft

By Kyle Litz, Future Long Range Assault Aircraft Project OfficeJuly 6, 2021

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

This month, as the United States celebrates 245 years of independence, one Soldier has spent the last two years helping prepare a strategy to build a long range assault aircraft that will keep that goal alive by going further, faster and with more maneuverability than has ever been put in the skies above the battlefield.

That aircraft is the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft.

And even though Maj. Wes Ogden is preparing for a new life at Fort Eustis, Virginia, next month, he is confident that the FLRAA program is poised to deliver a first class aircraft for the nation’s warfighter in fiscal year 2030.

Major Wes Ogden
Major Wes Ogden (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
“We are well-postured to fulfill the promises we’ve made as far as timelines of releasing the RFP (Request for Proposal) and getting the capability we need for the Soldiers,” Ogden, assistant program manager for FLRAA, said. “We’ve worked really hard to set ourselves up to keep our commitment that we made not only to the CFT (Cross Functional Team) and Congress, but also the Soldiers who will be using the aircraft.”

And it’s not lost on Col. David Phillips, FLRAA program manager, that it’s people like Ogden that are the driving force behind FLRAA achieving its goal of Multi-Domain Operations dominance.

“The past few months have been tremendously successful for the FLRAA program and that’s a testament to the team that has been put together,” Phillips said. “Each and every individual associated with FLRAA is contributing to the program’s success and we are looking forward to adding to the team – even though losing someone like Maj. Ogden is hard, we understand and wish him the best. We are continually evaluating talented, critical thinkers and look forward to building an even better team as the program continues to grow.”

A former Kiowa 58D helicopter pilot and West Point graduate who was born in Utah, Ogden came to FLRAA from Redstone Test Center after working with aircraft survivability testing for two years. He enjoys spending time with his family camping old-school style in a tent. Ogden said he would love to get back to operational flying, and he will miss his FLRAA family.

“This group at FLRAA is certainly the most motivated, hard-working and dedicated team that I’ve been involved with,” Ogden said. “It’s been great to be a part of this team.

“The culture here at FLRAA is high expectations and high performance mixed with a light hearted side of things – the activities we do together, the games we play at our all-hands meetings, the fitness competitions, as well as just the general banter. Oh, and our GIF battles are one of my favorite things. But still, the most rewarding part of my time here has been getting to integrate within this team.”

Jimmy Downs, FLRAA’s deputy project manager, agreed that the FLRAA team is hard-working and dedicated, but also treats each other like family.

“I’m very proud of this group of individuals, but I’m also aware that as we keep growing and learning, we need other talented people to come in and add to our group dynamics, to become our teammates in this monumental effort to augment one of the most iconic aircraft in the Army’s history (UH-60 Black Hawk),” Downs said. “Losing Maj. Ogden hurts on both a professional and personal level, but that’s the kind of teammate we also strive to work with – someone who gets the job done and can make you smile in the process.”

While Ogden has been instrumental in FLRAA’s success, he did not arrive with an inherent knowledge of how the program works.

“That was one of my biggest goals – to learn and understand how big programs operate,” Ogden said. “To navigate the requirement side of things combined with the contract development. It’s been a great experience at FLRRA working with people who know all of those things and are deeply familiar with all of those things. It has certainly been rewarding, getting to see their passion for the work that they do and how they excel at it.”

Ogden has been deployed to Iraq twice, with the 1st Squadron and 6th Cavalry and also worked in the Production and Fielding Product Office in the Apache Helicopters Project Office for about a year. And while the Army likes to continue broadening his experiences in different areas, Ogden is confident that the FLRAA program will continue to recruit the best talent available.

“I think this is an incredible team this is being built at FLRAA. We have a great culture of learning and growing and mentoring others,” he said. “So in very rapid order, a new person could come in and get integrated and start making a major impact in a very high profile program.”