US Navy’s VXS-1 ‘Warlocks’ Acquire UV-18A Twin Otter

The new VXS-1 ‘Warlocks’ UV-18A Twin Otter on the flightline at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Daniel Parry

A NEW addition to the US Naval Research Laboratory/Military Support Division’s Scientific Development Squadron One (VXS-1) ‘Warlocks’ at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, is UV-18A Twin Otter 793255 ‘RL-255’ (c/n 680, ex 79-23255), which was previously operated by the US Army.  The aircraft was formally unveiled at Pax River on May 11.

Commander Erik Tomas, commanding officer for VXS-1, said: “The Twin Otter is a safe, highly manoeuvrable and extremely versatile aircraftThe fact that it is unpressurized simplifies modifications and will accelerate our ability to get projects airborne for the Naval Research Enterprise.”The aircraft complements the VXS-1 fleet by providing an affordable and stable research platform with slow flight capabilities and an operational payload of up to 3,000lbs
The performance capabilities of the UV-18 offer a slow flight speed of 85mph, a maximum cruise speed of 190mph, a nominal service ceiling of 13,000ft (higher with supplemental oxygen) and a six-hour flight duration dependent on payload and flight configuration.In addition to the UV-18, VXS-1 operates a varying range of aircraft that include three NP-3C Orions, an RC-12M King Air, an MQ-8C Fire Scoutand 12 TigerShark unmanned aircraft systems.

The fleet of unique squadron aircraft are operated and maintained by the men and women of VXS-1 and contain an S&T framework to provide power, Ethernet and GPS feeds as required for temporary project installations and to quickly conduct airborne research.  The squadron has a self-contained configuration and project shop to assist prospective customers with rack designs, equipment installations and flight clearances.

Providing proof of concept for the latest technology, VXS-1 enables operational fleet commands to receive time pertinent technological advances to better execute their missions and fill critical capability gaps in their theatre.  Thomas said: “Using our squadron’s aircraft, scientists and engineers can install and test the latest technology they are developing in an operational environment anywhere in the world.  We truly turn their ideas into reality.”  Historically, the squadron has supported a broad spectrum of research projects, which include magnetic variation mapping, hydro-acoustic research, bathymetry, electronic countermeasures, gravity mapping, electro-optical and radar research, plus remote measuring of water contained in snow for NASA.