An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News & Media : News

    NRL News & Press Releases

NEWS | May 19, 2023

Commander Aaron Roberts Takes Command of NRL’s Scientific Development Squadron

By U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

Commander Aaron Roberts relieved Commander Jeffrey Webb as commander of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Scientific Development Squadron (VXS-1), the Warlocks, May 18 during a change of command ceremony held at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Commanding Officer Capt. Gregory Petrovic presented Webb with the Meritorious Service Medal. Webb served as the VXS-1 Commanding Officer from January 2022 to May 2023. Petrovic said Webb’s distinguished leadership was instrumental to the squadron’s continued record of exceptional support to NRL’s airborne mission.

Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, the Chief of Naval Research, presided over the ceremony and took the opportunity to praise Webb on a successful tour marked by world-wide deployments that advanced vital Science and Technology to the Fleet.

In 2022, the Warlocks flew more than 220 sorties executing over 880 flight hours providing direct support to Office of Naval Research, NRL, and the greater Naval Research Enterprise. The squadron completed research detachments to California, Cuba, Florida, Greenland, Iceland, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

In his remarks, Webb thanked VXS-1 personnel who remained steadfast in their commitment to support the Naval Research Enterprise airborne research missions.
“I am humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of this squadron as its Commanding Officer,” Webb said. “Our work allowed the Naval Research Enterprise to conduct multiple projects across the spectrum of airborne research advancing new capabilities to the Fleet and expanding our knowledge of the maritime environment. As the new head of VXS-1, Roberts will carry on the tradition of premier airborne Science and Technology support.

“I am deeply honored and excited to lead this talented squadron as its 16th Commanding Officer,” Roberts said. “Our mission remains imperative to deliver essential scientific solutions to the warfighter. As the Navy, Marine Corps, and Department of Defense modernize and propel the rapid advances in technology that we see today, VXS-1 provides the ability to test, integrate, and field new systems to win the fight.”
Roberts, a native of Greenville, Indiana, graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina State University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, and received his Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.   

VXS-1 operates and maintains two uniquely modified NP-3C Orions, an RC-12M Huron, a UV-18A Twin Otter aircraft, and numerous Tiger Shark Unmanned Aircraft Systems used as airborne research platforms.
VXS-1's aircraft operate worldwide on extended detachments and annually log more than 500 flight hours. These aircraft are the sole airborne platforms for numerous projects such as bathymetry, electronic countermeasures, tropical storm modeling, gravity mapping, light detection and ranging, and radar developmental research.

The squadron has a flawless safety record, having amassed more than 78,000 hours of accident-free flying since 1963.
About the Scientific Development Squadron
VXS-1 conducts airborne scientific experimentation and advanced technology development in worldwide operations supporting U.S. Navy and national science and technology (S&T) priorities and war fighting goals. Supporting broadly based, multidisciplinary programs across the full spectrum of scientific research and applied technologies, our focus is toward the maritime application of new and improved airborne data collection techniques, experimental equipment, and system demonstration. While directly supporting scientific programs across the globe, we ensure that our work environment provides for the learning, personal growth, and respect of all our men and women and their families.
About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or

News Search