Blue Angels Demonstration Team Announces Next Commander

Cmdr. Brian Kesselring will lead the Blue Angels demonstration squadron for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. (U.S Navy)
Cmdr. Brian Kesselring will lead the Blue Angels demonstration squadron for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. (U.S Navy)

The Blue Angels have named their next commander.

Cmdr. Brian Kesselring will lead the demonstration squadron for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the Navy announced Tuesday.

Kesselring will officially take command of the squadron from Capt. Eric Doyle at the end of the current air show season in November. His initial training will begin in Pensacola, Florida, in September, officials said; he will eventually perform as the demonstration flight leader in the No. 1 jet.

He was previously the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 81, which flies F/A-18E Super Hornets. He has more than 3,790 flight hours and 812 carrier-arrested landings, the service said in a news release.

"It's absolutely humbling, and I'm honored to be here to represent the Navy and Marine Corps team," Kesselring said in the release. "Throughout my career as an F/A-18 pilot, I've always looked to the Blues as a source of inspiration."

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Blue Angels candidates must have a minimum of 3,000 flight hours and either currently be in command or previously had command of a tactical jet squadron, the Navy said.

As an F/A-18 pilot, Kesselring has deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

The Blue Angels have 56 shows in 29 locations scheduled for the 2020 season, the Navy said.

Over the next few years, the team will receive new, retrofitted Super Hornet fighter aircraft. In August, the Navy awarded manufacturer Boeing Co. a $17 million firm-fixed price contract to configure nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft to the standard Blue Angels' aircraft structure.

The squadron, which typically maintains 11 aircraft, currently flies the F/A-18C/D models.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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