NORFOLK, Virginia –
Capt. Ronnie Harper has spent the entirety of his 35-year naval career improving Naval Aviation through positions held as an enlisted and naval officer assigned in organizational (O-Level) and intermediate (I-Level) maintenance and acquisition assignments. This experience ultimately led to his current role as the Maintenance Operations Center (MOC) Director at Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT).
“When I was participating in the MOC process from the flight line perspective, I didn’t get the magnitude of influence that the MOC has as an organization on Naval Aviation readiness,” Harper said. “I have a lifetime of experience from three different, unique perspectives on why things happen on a flight line.”
As the military MOC Director, Harper has an opportunity to apply his years of experience to influence and improve the mission capable (MC) rates of Marine Corps, Navy and Navy Reserve aircraft.
“Once you have been on this side of the fence, you see this machine work,” he said.
Currently, the MOC oversees the majority of the type/model/series (TMS) in the Navy and one Marine Corps TMS. It plans to expand to include the remaining Navy, Marine Corps and Navy Reserve aircraft assets.
“All we do in the MOC from start to finish is to work readiness problems for every TMS that we have. We are focused on removing the barriers to readiness that may include increasing manpower to squadrons to performing maintenance, increasing training for Sailors and Marines, or removing obstacles in supply,” Harper said.
Removing barriers to readiness fits nicely into Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday’s “Get Real, Get Better” plan and serves as another example of how the entire Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is consistently improving itself.
“Any successful, well-oiled machine or person has to self-assess themselves as a person, command or unit,” Harper said. “If you can’t self-assess yourself about what you need to do to get better, you are never going to get better.”
That drive to consistently challenge oneself for improvement has guided Harper throughout his entire naval career. He first enlisted in the Navy in December 1986 serving as an Airman Apprentice. During his enlisted career, Harper’s leadership potential was recognized early on when he received Squadron Sailor of the Year and Wing Sailor of the Year awards while serving in the rank of petty officer second class. Harper would later receive his commission as a naval officer in May 2000 and was recently informed of his selection to the rank of captain. His Naval Aviation experience has always focused on flight line improvement.
“I’m trying to give the Sailors and Marines the tools they need to make mission capable and fully mission capable jets which in turn, when ready, will be available for any mission tasking by Naval Aviation leadership,” Harper said. “There is nothing more frustrating for an E-5 wrench turner to know what needs to get done on a jet but not have the support equipment, tools or manpower to get it done. It’s my job as the MOC Director to remove those barriers.”
Since the stand-up of the MOC in 2018, it has served as the nerve center for the Naval Sustainment System-Aviation (NSS-A), which is composed of seven different pillars all focused on improving Naval Aviation and driving that focus on increased MC rates and Mission Capable Aircraft Required (MCAR) numbers for the fight-tonight requirement. The pillars in addition to the MOC, consist of: Cost; Governance, Accountability, and Organization; Fleet Readiness Centers Reform; Supply Chain Reform; O-Level Reform; and Engineering and Maintenance Reform.
“We are always striving to be better,” Harper said. “Gone are the days of readiness at any cost; we are working to make readiness at the right cost. The MOC is the coordinating pillar of NSS-A. We are able to focus the other pillars on any readiness barriers that are keeping us from meeting our goals and we have the ability to reach into those other pillars and help to remove those barriers. The entire NSS-A process is very impressive to watch, and it absolutely works.”
Harper’s previous assignments prior to serving as the MOC Director include an assignment with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels as a crew chief; four overseas tours in the Seventh Fleet Area of Responsibility; and four tours at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California, to include serving as commanding officer and executive officer of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit. Other assignments include his time with the Navy’s Common Aviation Support Equipment Program Office where he learned the acquisition process from the first phase to fleet-wide distribution. He also served on numerous carrier deployments including USS Saratoga (CV 60), USS Independence (CV 62), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and USS George Washington (CVN 73).
Capt. Ronnie Harper was born in Hardinsburg, Kentucky, and joined the United States Navy in December, 1986. After Avionics “A” school, he reported to USS Saratoga (CV 60). In May, 1991, he reported to Fighter Squadron (VF) 45 at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida. Harper then reported to the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team (Blue Angels) in October 1993. While assigned to the team, he served as the No. 3 and No. 7 Crew Chief. After the completion of his tour in Pensacola, Harper reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 at NAS Atsugi, Japan. While in VFA-195, he earned his commission as an Ensign through the Limited Duty Officer Program.
In August, 2000, Harper reported to VFA-22 at NAS Lemoore, California. His assignments included Aircraft Division Officer, Material Control Officer and Maintenance/Material Control Officer. In April 2004, he reported to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific (CSFWP), where he served as the Wing Readiness Officer. Harper’s next assignment was forward deployed onboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), where he served as the Avionics Division Officer in the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department. His next assignment began in October, 2008, when he reported to NAVAIRSYSCOM onboard NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, where he served as the Consolidated Automated Support System (CASS) Deputy Integrated Product Team (DIPT) Lead within AIR-1.0/Common Aviation Support Equipment Program Office. Upon completion of Harper’s tour at NAVAIR, he was once again forward deployed onboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), where he served as the Assistant Maintenance Officer and the Maintenance/Material Control Officer. After a successful tour onboard Washington, Harper was privileged to be chosen as the Carrier Air Wing 5 Maintenance Officer. Harper then served as the Maintenance Officer of VFA-101 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. VFA-101 served as the Fleet Replacement Squadron for the F-35 Lightning II. In May 2017, Harper reported onboard the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit, Lemoore, California, as Executive Officer and assumed Command of the Unit in September 2018. Upon completion of his Commanding Officer tour, Harper reported to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific, Lemoore, in June 2020, where he served as the Maintenance Officer. In May 2021, Harper was selected to become the CNAL Maintenance Operations Center (MOC) Director and reported in November 2021.
Harper’s personal accomplishments include a Bachelor of Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and an M.B.A. from Touro International University. His decorations include three Meritorious Service Medals, eight Navy Commendation Medals, five Navy Achievement Medals and various unit and service awards.