Brig. Gen. Cothern was commissioned in 1993 as an ROTC graduate of the University of Central Florida. His career has spanned a range of assignments primarily acquiring or planning for a variety of space systems, running the gamut from communications, signals intelligence, missile warning and force application. His space systems experience includes all major segments: ground, space vehicle, payloads and launch vehicles. He commanded the Space Based Infrared Systems Ground Squadron, Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, where he led his unit during development, test and fielding of the ground control system for the first SBIRS geosynchronous satellite. Brig. Gen. Cothern’s joint assignment was in the U.S. Strategic Command’s Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Chief of Requirements Integration Department.
Prior to his current assignment, Brig. Gen. Cothern served as the Assistant Program Director for Development at the F-35 Lighting II Joint Program Office, Arlington, Virginia. He led all aspects of fifth generation fighter modernization activities focused on delivering three F-35 variants to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, eight international partners and three foreign military sales nations, ultimately producing 3,170 aircraft and supporting air system elements utilizing more than $250 billion in U.S. funds. He directed a 1,194-person joint and multinational team, building and executing acquisition strategies for continued modernization and delivery of the F-35.