Captain McDowell graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and was commissioned via the NROTC program in April 1994. After completing flight training with Training Squadron (VT) 86 at NAS Pensacola, Fla., and Electronic Warfare training at Corry Station, Fla., he reported to the S-3 Fleet Replacement Squadron (VS) 41, at NAS North Island, California. McDowell ultimately reported to the “Black Ravens” of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 6 at NAS Cecil Field, Fla., in April 1997. Flying in the ES-3A “Shadow”, he deployed with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 in USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), on the ship’s initial ‘around-the-world’ deployment.
With the pending decommissioning of the ES-3A and associated squadrons, McDowell reported to Special Projects Patrol Squadron (VPU) 2, at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, in April 1999. While with VPU-2, he completed multiple detachments to sites across the EUCOM, CENTCOM and PACOM theatres of operation. In March 2001, McDowell was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Md., and subsequently graduated with Class 121 in June 2002. Upon graduation he reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, as a Test Naval Flight Officer and Project Officer where his acquisition and test projects included the Network Centric Warfare Demonstration P-3 aircraft, air-to-air control of the Aero-Scout and Fire-Scout UAVs, test and evaluation of newly modified EP-3and VPU aircraft, and BUPERS SDC endeavors. While at VX-20, he also completed a Masters in Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
In May 2004, McDowell reported to USS Enterprise (CVN 65), as a Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer, or “Shooter”, in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, and Summer Pulse ’04 while deployed to the CENTCOM and EUCOM theatres of operation. McDowell left USS Enterprise in November 2005, completed refresher training at Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 and reported for his Department Head tour with the “Rangers” of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 2 at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. While at VQ2, he executed and coordinated worldwide nationally tasked reconnaissance missions on a continual basis in support of Overseas Contingency Operations.
Following VQ-2, McDowell reported to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla., in July 2008, where he worked on Security Force Assistance policy and doctrine development, various Special Forces acquisition projects and deployed as a Joint Task Force Liaison Officer to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. McDowell was subsequently designated as a Joint Qualified Officer and a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps.
McDowell served as the Executive Officer of VPU-1 at NAS Jacksonville, Fla., from April 2011 to April 2012, and as the Commanding Officer of VPU-2 at MCBH Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii from April 2012 to May 2013. Under his Command as CTGs 57.3, 67.6 and 72.3, the “Wizards” of VPU-2 flew over 4300 mishap-free flight hours, conducting numerous, dynamic national-level operations throughout the CENTCOM, EUCOM, AFRICOM and PACOM AORs, including 406 combat and direct support missions.
From June 2013 to May 2016, McDowell served on the MQ-4C Triton Team in the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-262) at NAS Patuxent River, Md. The Triton Team was collectively responsible for cost, schedule, technical performance and risk management on industry contracts exceeding $2 Billion in total value; the U.S. Navy’s largest investment in Unmanned Aviation Systems to date.
McDowell reported to the Air Combat Electronics Program Office (PMA-209) in June 2016 as the Principal Deputy Program Manager, and assumed the role of Program Manager in May 2017. PMA-209 is a collaborative team of proactive acquisition professionals that enable foundational aviation requirements through the development, integration and cradle-to-grave support of common avionics solutions and capabilities.