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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2023

Research Squadron VXS-1 Celebrates 60th Anniversary at Tailhook

By Susan Guth, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1 will exhibit their unique mission and research capabilities at the 2023 Tailhook Association Symposium in Sparks, Nevada. This will be the second time in recent years that the Warlocks (VXS-1) have exhibited and attended Tailhook.

“Tailhook is the perfect event for us to connect with other aviators, engineers, and industry members and communicate our mission as the premier airborne science and technology research squadron conducting worldwide detachments in support of the Department of the Navy and other government agencies that contribute to Naval Research,” said Cmdr. Aaron Roberts, commanding officer of VXS-1.  “We provide a streamlined pathway for the prototyping, experimentation, and demonstration of technological advancements.  We have a booth set up at Tailhook to showcase the capabilities of our three type/model/series aircraft and discuss how they’ve been modified to meet the needs of scientists and researchers.”

Each of VXS-1’s aircraft are uniquely altered in order to support the equipment required for such scientific research as magnetic variation mapping, hydro-acoustic research, bathymetry, electronic countermeasures, gravity mapping, and radar research. These missions require the squadron to fly worldwide.

“We’re here to execute!  The Warlocks have a unique mission, we take the great ideas from NRL and other vendors, make modifications to our aircraft and then go out and test the ideas onstation.  We’re fortunate to be able to show the important work of the Warlocks at Tailhook,” said Cmdr. Luis A. Levine, executive officer of VXS-1. “We’re also excited to be celebrating our 60th anniversary this year!”

The Warlocks were first designated as the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Flight Support Detachment in 1963. For 60 years they conducted worldwide scientific and research operations in support of the U.S. Navy and Marines Corps, Department of Defense, and other government agencies that contribute to naval research. The Chief of Naval Operations established the squadron in 2004 as Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1.

11 officers, 60 enlisted sailors, and four civilians execute the mission of the squadron, which is to operate and maintain two NP-3C Orion aircraft, an RC-12M Huron, a UV-18 Twin Otter, and numerous TigerShark Unmanned Aircraft Systems uniquely configured aircraft in direct support of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and NRL airborne research projects. It is a mission the squadron has safely executed for 60 years and achieved 78,000 Class A mishap-free flight hours.

The Warlocks’ recent projects include support to ONR, NRL’s Tactical Electronic Warfare, Optical Sciences, Space Systems, Radar, and Ocean Sciences divisions, Naval Air System’s Command (NAVAIR) Advanced Concepts Division, MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, and the Naval Test Pilot School. The squadron has completed S&T research detachments around the globe including operations in USCENTCOM, USEUCOM and USINDOPACOM and operated locally as well as various CONUS locations.

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 the U.S. 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, and 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

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