2006 Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement

Joseph J. Lusczek, Jr.

Helped set the system requirements for and design most of the Air Force systems flying today including the F-15, F-16 and B-2 stealth bomber.

If there has been one constant of every military conflict over the past 40 years, it has been U.S. air superiority. America’s ability to dominate the air has given our country a key strategic advantage when it comes to our national security. Few individuals have done more to ensure America’s air supremacy than Joe Lusczek, Jr.

Mr. Lusczek is the head of Aerospace Systems Design and Analysis organization at the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center. In this position he is responsible for definining system requirements and developing candidate aerospace system designs for modernizing and advancing aerospace capabilities for major Air Force programs. If an aircraft or weapons system is currently being used by the Air Force, chances are this 44-year veteran of the civil service played a role in its development.

In the 1960s, he led the conceptual design work for the F-15. For the past 30 years, the F-15 has been the preeminent air-to-air fighter in the world.

One night in a motel room in 1967, he laid out a conceptual design that led to the development of the Air Launched Cruise Missile—a crucial weapon in the U.S. arsenal. With his expertise in cruise missiles, he would later serve as a technical expert on the teams that negotiated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF), Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) treaties.

In 1974, he led the first comprehensive effort to assess emerging high energy laser technology, and he helped devise the first missions for airborne laser weapon systems.

Other high profile projects on which he has worked include the F-16 and the B-2 stealth bomber.

Most recently, he led the design team that developed the requirements for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and he currently leads the Defense Department’s preeminent conceptual design team working on future U.S. aircraft.

Although Joe Lusczek has distinguished himself as a technical expert on aircraft and weapons systems, perhaps his greatest accomplishment has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with people. In the 1980s, the military was faced with significant downsizing as the Cold War came to a close. Federal leaders had to make hard choices about whether to continue to use government employees for the engineering and design of Air Force hardware or to outsource this work to the private sector. Lusczek successfully fought to preserve in-house capability. At a time when many young engineers were skeptical about entering federal service due to the threat of downsizing, he brought in new talent and is credited with single-handedly reconstituting the Air Force’s Aerospace Systems Design organization. He replaced retirees with bright, freshly minted graduates and assured that the Air Force has the capability to efficiently and effectively set aircraft requirements for future systems well into the 21st century.

Lusczek has not only received praise for his work to get talented people to enter federal service, but he is also widely recognized for his work as a mentor. He has made the professional development of his staff a priority, using an aggressive training program to get people up to speed quickly. He is known for assigning his staff to be co-leads on major efforts early in their careers, helping to grow valuable project managers in record time.

Perhaps the greatest measure of a professional’s career is how long their impact will be felt after they have left. Whether it is the superior aircraft that make the United States the world’s military superpower or the new generation of leaders he has mentored, it is certain that Joe Lusczek’s impact will significantly outlast his tenure in federal service.