By Ron Dexter

The Joint Aircraft Survivability Program Office (JASPO) is pleased to recognize Mr. Michael Schuck for his Excellence in Survivability. Currently the Manager of the SURVICE Engineering Company’s Dayton Area Operation, Michael has provided critical computational, analytical, and test support on more than two dozen fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and unmanned air system programs since he joined the survivability community in 2004. In addition, he has made great strides in enhancing capabilities and methods for vulnerability testing and analysis, and he has distinguished himself as a leader and promoter of the survivability discipline through numerous survivability-focused organizations.

An Ohio native and mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Michael began his survivability career as an entry-level engineer at SURVICE shortly after graduation.  From his initial work conducting modeling and simulation (M&S) vulnerability assessments to his growth into a project lead, team lead, and regional operation manager, Michael has consistently demonstrated strong technical and leadership qualities, a keen understanding of the greater problems at hand, and the ability to challenge not only himself but also those around him to excel in their efforts.

Michael was indoctrinated in the world of vulnerability assessment through his early support of such projects as the Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Munitions Effectiveness (JTCG/ME) Non-nuclear Consumables Annual Analyses (NCAA), the General Electric F136 engine vulnerability analysis, and the MH-60S Live Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E) program for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD).  While working on the NCAA task, he also quickly learned the Advanced Joint Effectiveness Model (AJEM), where he efficiently generated the detailed input data sets and developed thorough debugging approaches to identify geometry and code errors.  Most importantly, these early projects made it clear that Michael had a bright future in the survivability and lethality discipline.

Michael’s first exposure to jet engine vulnerability came on the F136 program, where he became skilled at modeling highly detailed target descriptions and developing approaches for linking geometry to the Damage Modes and Effects Analysis (DMEA).  As his experience grew on this program, he also developed FASTGEN target descriptions and conducted COVART analyses.  And he was part of the SURVICE team that developed COVART pre-processor tools to quickly set up execution runs to evaluate a multitude of threats and conditions.

Michael continued to build on his vulnerability knowledge base through his work on numerous other projects, including the Sikorsky Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) program (which led to the CH-53K), the Sikorsky CH148 program (a Canadian version of the H-92 platform), and the T-6 Texan for Hawker-Beechcraft program.  Additionally, his first project lead opportunity came on the HLR crew protection study, where he evaluated cockpit and cabin crew protection levels for multiple armor configurations and provided recommendations to minimize armor weight while maintaining comparable armor protection levels.

One of Michael’s most notable assets has always been his drive to develop enhanced methodologies and approaches to more efficiently answer questions at hand.  For example, on the T-6 Texan program, he led the vulnerability analysis and led development of new approaches for conducting a hybrid qualitative/quantitative assessment.  This approach provided an efficient method to conduct functional analyses of the aircraft to identify vulnerability strengths and areas for enhancement.  It also led to the conduct of an armor integration and design optimization study that resulted in a weight- and protection-optimized solution for the platform.  Michael would also later use this enhanced methodology to support A-29 Super Tucano and AW139 vulnerability assessments.

In 2012, Michael turned his focus more to test and evaluation.  During the KC-46 LFT&E program, he was a member of the Test Integrated Product Team that developed several testing methodology enhancements, including the detailed characterization of dry bay fire variables in an LFT&E environment and the employment of design of experiments (DOE) for test matrix development, pre-test predictions, and post-processing test data.  These new applications resulted in a more accurate, consistent, and efficient method for integrating test data into the M&S environment and supported a model-test-model approach for evaluating vulnerabilities while enhancing M&S.

In 2015, Michael was named to be the lead of SURVICE’s Emerging Technologies Team, whose primary focus was to expand the company’s capabilities into future technologies.  In this role, he supported SURVICE’s expansion into new technology areas, including evaluating aircraft subsystems to high-energy laser (HEL) engagements, characterizing material damage and subsystem effects at varying irradiance levels; as well as conducting nuclear survivability programs, characterizing the platforms’ inherent hardness to nuclear threats as well as base escape capabilities to nuclear engagements.

In addition, in 2016 Michael was tasked with helping to transition the newly established Defense Systems Information Analysis Center from the legacy Information Analysis Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  Part of his responsibility includes working with JASP, the Joint Combat Assessment Team, and the National Ground Intelligence Center to upgrade the database of the Combat Damage Incident Reporting System (CDIRS) to ensure it meets the security requirements for classified environment operation.  This ongoing effort is critical to ensuring that the CDIRS database does not become obsolete and continues to provide survivability analysts and operators with crucial combat damage data.

Michael became Manager of SURVICE’s Dayton Area Operation in 2018.  In this role, he not only is responsible for all of the day-to-day operations of a regional office, but he continues to be involved in numerous survivability programs as well, identifying and quantifying platform vulnerabilities and providing design recommendations for programs such as the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH), the UH-1N Replacement, and the Next Generation Fire Model (NGFM).

Not surprisingly, as a result of of his efforts and contributions, Michael has been recognized in numerous letters and accolades from both Government and industry customers, including military leaders such as Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr. and Lt. Gen. John Thompson.  He has also published numerous survivability reports and presented many survivability briefings at local and national events.

Finally, “going above and beyond” to promote the survivability discipline has been a hallmark of Michael’s efforts in the community.  Most notably, since 2007 he has been an active member and leader of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Survivability Technical Committee (SURTC).  Serving as the SURTC Chair from 2018 to 2020, Michael was responsible for all committee activities, including conferences, publications, awards, membership, and educational outreach.  He also previously served as the committee’s Secretary, Vice Chair, and the Awards Committee Chair, where he coordinated the selection and presentation of the coveted AIAA Survivability Award.

Outside of work, Michael enjoys coaching youth basketball and baseball, as well as spending time with his wife, son, and daughter as they explore new places and meet new people in their recreational vehicle.  The family also volunteers for the JoyRide organization, a unique car club to support kids with special needs.

Congratulations, Michael, for your Excellence in Survivability; and thank you for your past, present, and future contributions to the aircraft survivability community.


Mr. Ron Dexter is the Vice President of the Air Force and Navy Sectors at the SURVICE Engineering Company.  He has more than 30 years of experience in aircraft and munitions survivability and lethality, including nearly a decade at Sikorsky Aircraft.