by Ron Dexter

The Joint Aircraft Survivability Program Office (JASPO) is pleased to recognize Ms. LeAnne McKay for her Excellence in Survivability. An accomplished vulnerability analyst and project leader, LeAnne— who currently serves as the Deputy Manager of the SURVICE Engineering Company’s Dayton Area Operation—has been providing the survivability community with critical computational, analytical, and test support on a wide range of foreign and domestic weapons programs for nearly three decades.

A native of Perryville, MD, LeAnne began her survivability career as a college intern at SURVICE’s Bel Air, MD, location in the late 1980s. During this time, she had the opportunity to begin learning many aspects of vulnerability analysis and testing from some of the founders and early leaders of the survivability engineering discipline (including James Foulk, Don Mowrer, Walt Vikestad, and Walt Thompson). In 1988, she graduated with a B.S. in applied mathematics from Towson University and began combining her education fundamentals with extensive hands-on and theoretical analysis experience to support numerous survivability/ lethality projects, involving everything from ground vehicles to rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

One of the first programs LeAnne supported was evaluating the effectiveness of the early Computation of Vulnerable Areas and Repair Time (COVART) tool—now the Computation of Vulnerable Area Tool—against the OV-10A aircraft. She also spent much of her early career supporting foreign system analysis, including conducting exploitation and lethality studies of ground and air systems in support of weapon development programs. It didn’t take long for LeAnne to build a keen skillset for reverse engineering foreign targets, as well to gain specialized expertise in developing BRL-CAD and FASTGEN geometric models. In addition, her intimate understanding of the physical and functional operation of foreign systems through her Damage Mode and Effects (DMEA) analyses and fault tree evaluations naturally led to her development of component kill probabilities and to the conduct of vulnerability/lethality assessments using internally developed codes, scripts, and COVART toolsets.

LeAnne supported many different organizations in government and industry during this early period, including the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate (ARL-SLAD), the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), the National Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), the Air Force Air Armament Center (AAC), Sikorsky Aircraft, Boeing, and General Electric.

Notable systems she analyzed during this time included the Soviet SU-27 Flanker; MiG-29 Fulcrum; MI-8J/K helicopter; Soviet GAZ-66 and ZIL-131 trucks; Soviet SS-21, F 106 Delta Dart; RAH-66; AV-8B; and the T800, F119A, and F120 engines. Many of the analyses that LeAnne performed during this early period helped to enhance the effectiveness and lethality of U.S. missile systems. And her broad experience across multiple agencies and ground and air systems has significantly benefitted many programs and systems in use today.

In addition to performing modeling and simulation analyses, LeAnne also supported various test efforts for the Joint Live Fire and Live Fire (JLF/LF) programs. She also tested the effects of high-speed fragments against surrogate missile targets in a program with the University of Dayton Research Institute. Little did she know at the time that she would eventually call Dayton her home.

In 1997, LeAnne left SURVICE to move with her young family to Michigan, where she worked for American International Airways. This move gave her yet another opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge of aircraft design and repair (particularly for the Boeing 747 and 727). However, when SURVICE decided to open an office in Ohio in the summer of 1998, LeAnne’s calling to work in the survivability community was sparked once again. And in the spring of 1999, she returned to serve as a lead analyst in SURVICE’s new Dayton Area Operation.

Promoted to the position of Deputy Manager in 2004, LeAnne has continued to manage and lead a wide range of vulnerability/lethality programs, particularly fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, turbine engines, and threat characterization programs. She has also become the wearer of many hats, assisting not only in the daily administrative and technical management of the operation but also in performing vulnerability/lethality analyses (using COVART and the Advanced Joint Effectiveness Model [AJEM]), planning live fire test and evaluation programs, and assisting and mentoring fellow survivability practitioners.

Primary organizations she has supported in this role include the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Combat Effectiveness and Vulnerability Analysis Branch (AFLCMC/EZJA), the Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Munitions Effectiveness (JTCG/ME), the U.S. Army Evaluation Center (AEC), AAC, NAWCWD, the Air Force’s 645th Aeronautical Systems Group (645 AESG) and 704 Test Group (TG) (previously the 96th TG), Sikorsky Aircraft, General Electric, and General Atomics.

Notable programs she has contributed to in this role include the B-2, A-10 Warthog, MH-68, HH-65, F-16, F-117, Joint Cargo Aircraft, MiG-19, KC-46, C-27, Twin Otter, Dash-8, Predator, RAH-66, H-60 (multiple derivatives), S-92 (multiple derivatives), the Combat Rescue Helicopter, and the iconic B-52.

She has also supported numerous turbine engine vulnerability programs (such as General Electric’s F-136 and GE38-1B programs) and weapon and threat programs (such as the AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile and the Surface-Launched Advanced Medium- Range Air-to-Air Missile programs), as well as helped to develop characterization data for projectile threats (under the Air Force Pedigree program). Her many contributions have not only helped to provide data for missile enhancement and development but also to verify compliance with specification requirements for U.S. air systems, with the ultimate purpose of improving those systems’ survivability.

Finally, based on her longstanding experience and leadership within the community, LeAnne has led multiple workshops that have brought together engineers from across the survivability discipline to enhance the development of probabilities of damage and analysis of crew, fire, and blast. She is also the author of, and has contributed to more than, 50 technical reports and papers on various survivability/lethality and related topics and is an active member in the National Defense Industrial Association and the American Helicopter Society.

LeAnne currently lives in Springboro, OH, with her family. She has two daughters, one a junior at the Ohio State University and the other a soon-to-be freshman at the University of Kentucky. She has been an active member in the Springboro community (including serving as a leader in the Girl Scouts) and an increasingly active member in the area’s equestrian community (supporting her youngest daughter’s riding passion).

Congratulations, LeAnne, for your Excellence in Survivability and for your past and present contributions in the aircraft survivability community.


Ron Dexter is the Sector Manager for the SURVICE Engineering Company, overseeing SURVICE’s Dayton, Patuxent River, and China Lake operations, as well as the company’s Air Force aircraft, Navy aircraft, and Navy weapons survivability/lethality programs. Before joining SURVICE, Mr. Dexter served as a design/analysis engineer and leader of the Ballistic Vulnerability Group for Sikorsky Aircraft. He has a B.S. in aircraft engineering from Western Michigan University.