February 27, 2009
On July 3, 1988, USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in the Strait of Hormuz. There were 290 people aboard. In the twenty years since the incident, a great deal has been written and said about the incident, much of it incorrect. Mr. Pitts led the Aegis data analysis team that supported the JAG investigation chaired by RADM William M. Fogarty of CENTCOM. In this presentation, Mr. Pitts will discuss the incident, the data, and provide counters to several of the myths that have arisen around the incident.
Reuben S. Pitts III joined the Naval Weapons Lab in Dahlgren, VA, in June of 1968 after graduating from Mississippi State University with a BSME. His early career was spent in ordnance design and weapons systems. He subsequently served on the planning team to reintroduce the Navy to Wallops Island, Virginia, currently a multiple ship combat, over-the-water weapons testing lab for Surface Ship Combat Systems, Fighter Aircraft and live missile firings. His outstanding service as the deployed Science Advisor to Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet was recognized with the Navy’s Superior Civilian Service (NSCS) Award and the Navy Science Assistance Program Science Advisor of the Year Award. Mr. Pitts was selected to lead the technical analysis team in support of the formal JAG investigation of the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 by USS VINCENNES, and participated in subsequent briefings to CENTCOM, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the Secretary of Defense. As Head, Surface Ship Program Office and Aegis Program Manager, Mr. Pitts was awarded a second NSCS, the James Colvard Award, and the John Adolphus Dahlgren Award (Dahlgren’s highest honor) for his achievements in the fields of science, engineering, and management. Anticipating the future course of combatant surface ships, Mr. Pitts co-founded the NSWCDD Advanced Computing Technology effort, which eventually became the Aegis/DARPA-sponsored High Performance Distributed Computing Program; the world’s most advanced distributed real-time computing technology effort. That effort was the foundation for the Navy’s current Open Architecture Initiative. In 2003 Mr. Pitts accepted responsibility as Technical Director for PEO Integrated Warfare Systems (IWS), the overall technical authority for the PEO. In September of that year, he was reassigned as the Major Program Manager for Integrated Combat Systems in the PEO. In this position, he was the Program Manager for the Combat Systems and Training Systems for all U. S. Navy Surface Combatants, including Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers, Destroyers, Frigates, Amphibious Ships, and auxiliaries. In July, 2006, Mr. Pitts returned to NSWCDD to form and head the Warfare Systems Department. While in this position he maintained his personal technical involvement as the certification official for Surface Navy Combat Systems. He also served as Chair of the Combat System Configuration Control Board and Chair of the Mission Readiness Review for Operation Burnt Frost, the killing of inoperative satellite USA 193. Mr. Pitts has been a guest speaker/lecturer/symposium panelist at many NAVSEA-level and DoD symposiums, conferences and at the Naval Postgraduate School, the Defense Systems Management College and the National Defense University. For 19 years Mr. Pitts was the sole certification authority of all Aegis Combat System computer programs for fleet use. He retired from the U. S. Civil Service in September, 2008, with over 40 years of service to the Navy.