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The Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) was the U.S. Navy's material-support organization for naval aviation from 1921 to 1959. The bureau had "cognizance" (i.e., responsibility) for the design, procurement, and support of naval aircraft and related systems. Aerial weapons, however, were under the cognizance of the Navy's Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd).
World War II brought immense changes as well. BuAer was forced to expand rapidly in order to comply with the nation's defense needs. By the war's end, the bureau had developed an administrative structure that oversaw thousands of personnel, and the procurement and maintenance of tens of thousands of aircraft. In 1943, the Navy established the position of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air, or DCNO(Air), a move which relieved some of BuAer's responsibility for Fleet operations. RADM McCain, now promoted to vice admiral, was the first to fill the position.
BuAer downsized after the war, but continued its focus on aeronautical research and development. But as naval technology became increasingly complex, it became clear that the Navy's material organization was insufficient. In particular, the Navy needed better integration of aerial weapons with naval aircraft. There was also the question of "pilotless aircraft" (the ancestors of the late 20th century's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles); BuAer considered these to be aircraft, while BuOrd saw them as guided missiles.
To fix the problem, in 1959 the Navy merged BuAer and BuOrd to create the Bureau of Naval Weapons (BuWeps). This was only a temporary solution, however, and in 1966 the Navy undertook a wholesale revision of its material organization. The bureau system, which had existed since the 1840s, was replaced with the "Systems Commands" (SYSCOMs). BuWeps was replaced with the current Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).
|Rear Admiral William A. Moffett||July 26, 1921 – April 4, 1933|
|Rear Admiral Ernest J. King||May 3, 1933 – June 12, 1936|
|Rear Admiral Arthur B. Cook||June 12, 1936 – June 1, 1939|
|Rear Admiral John H. Towers||June 1, 1939 – October 6, 1942|
|Rear Admiral John S. McCain Sr.||October 9, 1942 – August 7, 1943|
|Rear Admiral DeWitt C. Ramsey||August 7, 1943 – June 1, 1945|
|Rear Admiral Harold B. Sallada||June 1, 1945 – May 1, 1947|
|Rear Admiral Alfred M. Pride||May 1, 1947 – May 1, 1951|
|Rear Admiral Thomas S. Combs||May 1, 1951 – June 30, 1953|
|Rear Admiral Apollo Soucek||June 30, 1953 – March 4, 1955|
|Rear Admiral James S. Russell||March 4, 1955 – July 15, 1957|
|Rear Admiral Robert E. Dixon||July 15, 1957 – December 1, 1959|
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