Mission Success Doesn’t Happen by Chance
Mission success doesn’t start with the mission itself. It starts here. With honing every skill, tightening every nut, masterminding every plan. Preparing you for the worst so you can always be your best. Our exceptional staff, a vast differentiated fleet and leading technology are engaged each and every day, in each and every task. To prepare you for combat, to search for the missing, to deliver aircraft in top shape. To save lives. Our services are exclusive, exceptional and absolutely vital.
Because when operating in a congested airspace, a mile is an inch. When you are called upon to make a split second decision it has ramifications that could live on for decades. Lives, borders, even world order is at stake.
We are engaged. Prepare to prevail.
Your Mission Success. Every Time.
We ensure our customers succeed in every single operation they undertake.
We Sharpen Warriors, Protect Borders and Save Lives.
With exceptional service and knowledge we provide readiness when it matters.
Prepare to Prevail.
Mission success doesn’t happen by chance. It comes from rigorous preparation.
Paul Armstrong has been part of the Draken team for more than 10 years, formerly with Cobham Aviation Services. He has close to 20 years’ experience in various Commercial, Legal and Business Management roles facing the Aerospace, Defence and Aviation markets, working with BAE SYSTEMS, VT Group and the Eaton Corporation. Through his career, Paul has gathered the well-needed depth of experience in large capital warship and submarine delivery programmes for domestic and export customers, large volume product design & development and manufacturing for military and commercial aircraft OEMs, as well as prime contract aviation service delivery in MRO, Search and Rescue and Military Training support operations.
Sarah Harrison is the Chief Financial Officer for Draken, where she leads the Finance and Accounting teams and is responsible for the finance strategy and financial activities. Before joining Draken, Sarah was a Group Controller at Cobham Plc, a multi-national FTSE 250 group, where she played a key role in Cobham being taken private by Advent International, separating the organization into standalone businesses. Before her employment at Cobham, Sarah was a Director at PwC, the professional services firm, where she specialized in the Aerospace and Defense sector, serving high profile FTSE 250 clients.
Dana M. Collins
Dana Collins is the Chief Legal and Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary for Draken. At Draken, Dana leads the Legal, Compliance, Contracts, and Human Resources Departments. Dana has a diverse history working from different perspectives in defense and aerospace. Prior to joining Draken, Dana most recently served as Senior Counsel for North America and Defense Airframe for GKN Aerospace. Dana also worked at Lockheed Martin as Program Counsel for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program and as an associate in the Government Contracts Practice Group at Odin, Feldman and Pittleman LLP. Dana served in the U.S. Army for ten years as a Judge Advocate and Military Intelligence Officer. Dana has a MBA from The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, a JD from The University of Texas School of Law, and a BA from the University of Notre Dame.
Board of Directors
General David Goldfein
Blackstone Senior Advisor
Prior Roles: 21st Chief of Staff U.S. Air Force, Vice Chief of Staff to the U.S. Air Force, Director Joint Staff, the Pentagon Gen. David L. Goldfein was the 21st Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. As Chief, he served as the senior uniformed Air Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of 685,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas. As members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Chief of Staff and other service chiefs function as military advisers to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and the President. General Goldfein was the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, where he presided over the Air Staff and served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group. Before serving as the Vice Chief, General Goldfein was the Director, Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Arlington, Va. General Goldfein received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and is a command pilot with more than 4,200 flying hours in the T-37, T-38, F-16C/D, F-117A, MQ-9 and MC-12W. He has flown combat missions in operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom.
General The Lord Houghton of Richmond
Crossbencher, UK House of Lords / Constable of the Tower of London
Prior Roles: Former UK Chief of Defence Staff, Former Chief of Joint Operations, in charge of all overseas operations of UK Forces, Former Colonel Commandant of the Intelligence Corps In his 43 year military career, earned operational awards as a Commanding Officer and Brigade Commander Gen. Houghton deployed as Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq during the Iraq War. Later, he became Chief of Joint Operations at Permanent Joint Headquarters and served as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff General Houghton took over as Chief of the Defence Staff with critical objectives to re-shape the Armed forces in the post-Afghanistan era.
Dr. Heather Wilson
President, University of Texas El Paso
Prior Roles: 24th Secretary of the United States Air Force, Former Member of U.S. House of Representatives, President of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology As Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Wilson is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training and equipping and providing for the welfare of 685,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian forces as well as their families. She oversees the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $138 billion and directs strategy and policy development, risk management, weapons acquisition, technology investments and human resource management across a global enterprise. From 1998 to 2009, Wilson was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Gary L. Thomas
Former CEO, Draken International
Prior Roles: Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources. While on active duty, General Thomas served in several FA-18 squadrons. He commanded VMFA-323 during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM while embarked aboard the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64). He also commanded Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1), and he served as the Commanding General, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in Afghanistan as well as the Commanding General, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing in Cherry Point, North Carolina. He also served as Assistant Wing Commander of 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, the assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, and as the Marine Corps Deputy Director of Operations. His joint assignments include service in the Joint Staff Strategic Plans Directorate (J-5) and in the Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment Directorate (J-8). General Thomas is a graduate of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, the Navy Fighter Weapons School, Air Command and Staff College, and the National War College. He holds a MS from National Defense University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas.
Guidehouse - Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer (Washington D.C.)
Prior Roles: Constellis Group, Centerra Group, A-T Solutions, Allied Defense Group, Hemagen Diagnostics Prior to her promotion to CFO, Deborah Ricci served as the SVP of Finance and Accounting at Constellis. Previously, Debbie had served as the CFO of Centerra Group since November 2015. Prior to her CFO role at Centerra, Debbie was the CFO of a leading counterterrorism firm from 2010 to 2015, where she led the sale of that company to a large government contractor. Deborah Ricci has more than 23 years of experience as a proven financial executive in public and nonpublic manufacturing and product development organizations. She served as the Chief Financial Officer of Allied Defense Group Inc., from April 6, 2007 to June 1, 2010 and also served as Treasurer since April 2007, was responsible for all financial management, including financing, SEC reporting, long-term business planning, treasury management and internal control monitoring. She served as Controller and Company Secretary of Allied Defense Group Inc. from 2006 to April 2007.
Lockheed Martin Corporation - Vice President and General Manager Air Mobility & Maritime Missions, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
Prior Roles: Lockheed Martin: VP and Gen. Mgr. F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group, VP and Deputy, Program Director In his more than 27-year career with Lockheed Martin, Roderick has consistently demonstrated his ability to manage large-scale, complex programs and deliver results. Previously, he served as F-16 deputy vice president and F-16 program director for various countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. Roderick began his Lockheed Martin career as a Radar Systems engineer in Moorestown, N.J, and he has held numerous leadership roles since that time. Roderick holds an Electrical Engineering degree from North Carolina A&T State University, a master’s degree in Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Swiped.com – Founder
Prior Roles: MSND Financials, MSI Merchant Services Inc Mario’s entrepreneurial spirit and extraordinary business acumen have led to financial success. Mario invested and launched MSI Merchant Services, Inc which grew into a leading nationwide card processor. In 2014, Mario and his partner sold the company. Honoring his five-year non-compete agreement, he and two partners established another card processing company, SWIPED, in 2019. Mario became involved in the funding and developing of Opportunity Zoned Properties. Opportunity Zone Funding is a national community investment instrument that connects private capital with low-income communities in the U.S. and allows investors to mitigate tax consequences from capital gains. He also owns rental properties in several New Jersey neighborhoods and finances the commercial enterprises of those seeking monetary loans through the limited-liability company, MSND. Mario converted a seven-figure debt structure into equity of Draken, securing him a 30% interest in the largest jet fighter company in the world. In 2019, Blackstone purchased Draken. This prompted Mario to sell 24% of Draken, leaving him with a significant stake in the company. Mr. Parisi attended Seton Hall Preparatory High School and went on to study at St. John’s University
Blackstone – Senior Managing Director in the Tactical Opportunities Group
Prior Roles: Deutsche Bank, Littlejohn & Co. LLC, Schroder Wertheim & Co. Todd has led a number of TacOpp’s current and past investments including InComm Payments, North American Bancard, PayPal Credit, Global Supply Chain Finance, Peridot Payments, BTIG, CF SPAC, Acrisure, Draken, Amergint Technologies, Danbury Mission Technologies, Bridger Aerospace, Van Metre Homebuilders, Hudson Structured Capital Management, YES Networks, ZO Skin Health, Valkyrie Aviation, GeoComply Solutions, Certified Collectibles Group, and DECA Dental. Todd started his career at Schroder Wertheim & Co. as an analyst after graduating magna cum laude from Duke University.
Blackstone – Principal in the Tactical Opportunities Group
Prior Roles: White House, Federal Reserve Bank of New York David Kaden is a Principal in the Tactical Opportunities Group, where he is involved in the execution of the firm’s investments. Tac Opps is Blackstone’s opportunistic investment business which invests globally across asset classes and industries and seeks to identify and execute on attractive, differentiated investment opportunities Mr. Kaden is currently a member of the Board of Directors of ARKA, Draken and Diamonds Direct and an observer to the board of Bridger Aerospace and Cargo X. Mr. Kaden received an AB from Harvard College, a JD from Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to Judge Jose A. Cabranes on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Board of Advisors
Lt Gen David A. Deptula, (USAF, Ret.)
Lt Gen David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), is the Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in Arlington, Virginia, and a Senior Military Scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was the principal attack planner for the 1991 Operation Desert Storm air campaign; commander of no-fly-zone operations over Iraq in the late 1990s; director of the air campaign over Afghanistan in 2001; twice a joint task force commander; and was the air commander for the 2005 South Asia tsunami relief operations. He is a fighter pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours–400 in combat–including multiple command assignments in the F-15. He was as the Air Force’s first three-star chief of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), where he transformed America’s military ISR and drone enterprises. He is a sought-after commentator around the world as a thought leader on defense, strategy, and information age operations.
Mark Swan joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1979 after completing a UK law degree. He flew Phantom and Tornado fighters as a qualified weapons instructor until 1993 after which he joined the UK Ministry of Defence as one of the principal officials in the Eurofighter Typhoon programme. He has commanded No (XI) Tornado fighter squadron and the first RAF Typhoon Base at RAF Coningsby, these appointments being interspersed with senior policy, strategy and project management roles at air rank level. Mark joined the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Board as the Executive Director of Airspace Policy in Feb 2009 responsible for the safe and efficient use and design of national airspace. He led the collaborative programme with UK CAA, NATS ANSP, UK MOD and UK Government, to establish the UK Future Airspace Strategy out to 2030, which rolled out into operational plans in 2014. In 2013 Mark was given the task of merging the UK CAA Safety and Airspace groups into one and establishing Performance Based Regulation as the new transformational business model for the CAA. He held the role of DCEO in the CAA and was a National voting member of both the Eurocontrol Provisional Council in Brussels and the European Aviation Safety Agency in Cologne. Mark left the CAA in 2019 to set up and manage the Airspace Change Organising Group, which is directing the national airspace transformation programme involving 21 major commercial airports in the UK. In 2019 he was appointed to the Advisory Board of Blackstone Draken US, advising on UK/EU business development. Mark has over 3500 flying hours of which some 3000 are on military fighters, including displaying the Spitfire and Hurricane. He is a Fellow and Chartered Director of the UK Institute of Directors and a Member of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.
Vice Adm. DeWolfe “Chip” Miller (U.S. Navy, Ret.)
ADM Miller joins Draken’s Board of Advisors following a 30 plus year career in the Navy. He most recently served as the Navy’s “Air Boss,” responsible for material, personnel and combat readiness for all Naval Aviation forces and 11 nuclear powered aircraft carriers deployed globally. A career aircraft carrier aviator, Miller held additional command assignments, including commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 34 (VFA-34), USS Nashville (LPD 13) and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). He also served as commander the Bush Carrier Strike Group (CSG 2) that participated in combat Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Resolve. Miller is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, earned a Master of Science degree from the National Defense University, is a Syracuse University national security management fellow and is a graduate of the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program.
Admiral William E. Gortney (U.S. Navy, Ret.)
Admiral Bill Gortney graduated from Elon College in North Carolina, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science in 1977. He was commissioned via the Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1977, designated a Naval Aviator in 1978, and retired in 2016. During his 39 year career Bill Gortney commanded at every level in the Navy. Squadron command tours included VFA-106, the East Coast FA-18 Fleet Replacement Squadron, and VFA-15.Three additional commands were in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, providing support to Maritime Security Operations and combat operations for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. These assignments included Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet / Combined Maritime Forces, Bahrain; Commander, Carrier Strike Group 10, on board USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); and Commander, Carrier Air Wing 7, on board USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). Four Star commands included U.S. Fleet Forces Command, NS Norfolk, VA, and his final assignment as Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command. Gortney’s additional tours provided extensive fleet, joint, overseas, and Washington D.C. experience, to include assignment as Director, Joint Staff. He holds a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. Gortney flew over 5,360 mishap-free flight hours and completed 1,265 carrier-arrested landings. He is authorized to wear multiple awards to include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), The Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal, the Sea Service Ribbon (8 awards), and the Overseas Service Ribbon (2 awards). Foreign awards include recognition from Bahrain, France, Mexico (2 awards), and Canada. Admiral Gortney currently continues to serve in both public and private capacities, to include: Member, Board of Advisors Draken International, Inc. Member, Board of Directors, Omega Aerial Refueling Services Independent consultant for Boeing Defense, Space & Security Independent consultant for Collins Aerospace Chairman of the Mitre Naval Advisory Board Member of the Mitre National Security Committee Senior Fellow for CAPSTONE, National Defense University Senior Fellow for US FLEET FORCES Exercise Support Group and Maritime Operation Center Training Team Member, Elon University President’s Advisory Council Member, Board of Directors Hampton Roads Navy League Distinguished Advisor, Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation
Major General Joseph T. Anderson (USMC, Ret.)
Joseph T. Anderson is the former Deputy Director for the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. Joe served 33 years in the United States Marine Corps. He flew 219 combat missions and commanded at every echelon of Marine Aviation. He served as Director of Operations, Director of Command, Control, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) and also was Vice Commander of the Naval Air Systems Command. He was designated a Department of the Navy Acquisition Professional after 14 years’ experience in acquisition specialty assignments. He completed his career as a Major General in command of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Japan. His personal decorations include: The Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, thirteen Air Medals, the Navy and Marine Commendation Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Joe has served on the Boards of the Navy Federal Credit Union, Peduzzi Associates Ltd, Digital Reasoning Systems, Inc and Draken International and has served for two terms as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Army Navy Country Club in Arlington Virginia. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Navy League and founded NASM on the Road, an outreach utilizing the artifacts of the National Air and Space Museum to generate quality opportunities for recuperating service personnel and Veterans and also served as Vice Chairman of Operation VetsHaven, serving Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic stress. He was a member of the Board of Advisors for the National Museum of the United States Air Force and is a member of the Marine Corps Aviation Association and the Early and Pioneer Naval Aviation Association (Golden Eagles). He is also a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and has served as a consultant to the Secretary of the Air Force Science Advisory Board. He remains a Certified Flight Instructor, a current airshow pilot with an Acrobatic Competency rating, is current in the L-39 and Harrier and is one of two pilots worldwide flying the world's only civilian owned Harrier. He is a current pilot for Mercy Medical Angels in Manassas, VA and also serves as a Fairfax County VA Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children. Joe earned a BS in Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MS in Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California. His military education included U.S. Air Force Flight School, U. S. Naval Test Pilot School and the National War College.
Lieutenant General Robert E Schmidle Jr., (USMC, Ret.) Ph.D.
Lieutenant General Schmidle is the University Advisor on Cyber Capabilities and Conflict Studies at Arizona State University. Dr. Schmidle is also a Professor of Practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies where he is currently teaching graduate classes on the influence of cyber capabilities on a national security strategy. Additionally, he is a Senior Fellow in the Center on the Future of War at Arizona State University exploring the effects of technology on human conflict. While on active duty he served as the first Deputy Commander of United States Cyber Command. Subsequently he was the head of Marine Corps Aviation and his final assignment on active duty was as the Principal Deputy Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has extensive operational flying experience, amassing over 4,700 hours in tactical fighters, primarily the F-4, F-18 and most recently the F-5 aircraft. A graduate of the Naval Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) Lieutenant General Schmidle was teaching advanced fighter tactics for over 35 years. He deployed to Operation Desert Storm as the Executive Officer of VMFA-333, where he led the largest USMC strike on the first night of the war. During this conflict he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (with combat V denoting valor in combat). He would subsequently command VMFA-251, leading the squadron in combat operations in Bosnia and then aboard USS America (CV-66) as part of Carrier Air Wing One. Lieutenant General Schmidle was then selected for an extraordinary second operation command, this time as the commanding officer of VMFA-115. As a Colonel he commanded the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (Experimental), planning and executing the Marine Corps Warfighing Experiments. As a Brigadier General he was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of the Secretary of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review Team and the Deputy Director for Resources and Acquisition in the Joint Staff J-8. As a Major General he commanded the First Marine Aircraft Wing, which included all Marine Corps aviation in the Pacific Theater. He also led the Marine Corps Quadrennial Defense Review Team. Lieutenant General Schmidle holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Drew University, a master’s degree in Philosophy from American University and earned his doctorate from Georgetown University. His doctoral thesis, recognized with distinction, was titled “The Power of Context in Shaping Moral Choices.” He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Defense Science Board, the National Security Agency Advisory Board, the British Wittgenstein Society and also advises the Defense Innovation Unit. His numerous publications are in the fields of moral philosophy, social psychology, cyber security and military history. He is currently an active Certified Flight Instructor, Reno National Air Racer and Aerobatic competitor in Pitts Special Biplanes. Professor Schmidle resides in Washington, DC.
Lieutenant General Scott Kindsvater (USAF, Ret.)
Lt. General Kindsvater joins Draken following his position as Deputy Chair of the NATO Military Committee from 2019-2021 where he advised the NATO Secretary General and was the senior military spokesman of the 30-nation alliance. During his career in the United States Air Force, Scott Kindsvater served as the Commander of the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing, Commander of the 82nd Training Wing, Assistant Deputy Commander of the US Air Forces Central Command, and the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Intelligence to name a few. Lt. General Kindsvater has vast experience in the broad international arena specifically; Central and Southwest Asia, North Africa, and all of Europe. He is a leader of innovation by having reorganized the NATO intelligence enterprise and established management functions across the 30-nation alliance, which was the largest reorganization of NATO staff functions since the end of the Cold War for the 1,300 Personnel at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. His project leadership allowed him to direct $195 million in contracts and a $1 billion acquisition portfolio ensuring the 21st century training for more than 60,000 students via in-person and distance learning instruction. Lt. General Kindsvater is a valued addition to the Draken team and the partnership is welcomed going forward.