Russ Vernon Dies at Age 71
2019-03-11 09:05:58
Russ Vernon, an MZA retiree, died from complications due to lung cancer on Monday, March 4, 2019. Russ was 71 and is survived by his wife Ann, four daughters, seven grandchildren, and many other loving family members. His obituary was published online here.

Russ was a highly-respected high energy laser (HEL) analyst who put in more than 40 years of service in the field. Russ was a leader in the field of HEL modeling who, as much as anyone else, paved the way for the advances that are beginning to realize deployable HEL weapon systems. More than that, Russ was a true friend and confidant that provided MZA's President with frank advice, perspective, and inspiration in charting the development of MZA capabilities.

In 2007, Russ signed on with MZA to start an office in Jupiter, Florida where he expanded MZA's staff of HEL modeling and simulation experts. He supported the development High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HELMD), a mobile Army HEL platform which has demonstrated significant counter-RAM and counter-UAS capabilities. He was also the primary analyst that developed the HEL scaling equations implemented in the industry-standard HELCOMES analysis code. Russ retired from MZA in 2013.

Prior to joining MZA, Russ had a distinguished career with SAIC, ascending to the position of Vice President of Operations and Chief Systems Engineer for its Applied Sciences Operation. There he worked on numerous HEL programs, most notably, the Airborne Laser (ABL) where he and Dr. Don Link made significant contributions to the early modeling and conceptualization of the program. The ACS code that he and Don developed was a source of inspiration and algorithms for WaveTrain. Before SAIC, Russ worked for United Technologies Corporation (UTC) where he served as HELSTF Site Manager for United Technologies and led the system integration of Navy SEALITE Beam Director and the MIRACL laser.