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HistoryVXS-1 HistoryHistory

Circa 2012

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Cmdr. Wright Welcomed as New Commanding Officer of Scientific Development Squadron ONE - 06/22/2012 07:00 EDT - NRL News Release 80-12r - Contact: Daniel Parry, (202) 767-2541..." WebSite: NRL http://www.nrl.navy.mil/ [23JUN2012]

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Cmdr. Stacey K. Wright, former Executive Officer of Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), transitioned to Commanding Officer of the unique squadron, nicknamed 'Warlocks,' during a change of command ceremony, May, 3, 2012, at the NAS Patuxent River, Maryland located in southern Maryland.

Cmdr. Wright, successor to former Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jay M. Steingold, now commands the elite military squadron responsible for supporting a wide range of scientific research projects that contribute to naval research.

Born in Rome, Italy, to Sergeant Major Joe Wright and Ms. Doris Wright, both of Birmingham, Ala., Wright enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served as a medical service specialist for four years. Following his honorable discharge, he attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., where he received a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in 1993.

In October 1993 he reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida for Aviation Officers Candidates School where he earned his commission in March 1994. On June 9, 1995, he pinned on the Naval Flight Officer's "Wings of Gold" after completion of joint training through 562nd Flight Training Squadron located at Randolph Air Force Base (AFB), Texas.

His first operational tour was with VP-26 onboard NAS Brunswick, Maine. During his tour with the "Tridents" he completed deployments to NS Roosevelt Roads, PR; Howard AFB, Panama; and NAS Sigonella, Sicily. His ground assignments during this tour included Command Public Affairs Officer, Aviation Electronics (AE) Branch Officer, First Lieutenant, Special Projects Officer and Naval Flight Officer/Naval Aviation Training and Operating Procedure & Standard (NFO NATOPS).

In April 1999, Wright reported to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N1) in Washington, D.C. where he served as the Navy's Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) coordinator until November 2001. Following this tour, Wright reported to USS George Washington (CVN 73) where he served as an Aircraft Launch & Recovery Officer better known as a "SHOOTER" and held the roles of waist catapults and arresting gear branch officer and hangar deck division officer. During his tour on CVN 73 he completed a deployment to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf while conducting combat operations in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, NORTHERN WATCH, and SOUTHERN WATCH.

In January 2004, he reported to VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, where he served as an Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS) Instructor NFO in a pre-department head role. His ground duties included Administration Department Head and Training Director. Thereafter, Wright reported to the "War Eagles" of VP-16, also located at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, in November 2005. On this tour he served as a department head for Tactics, Training, and Operations and deployed to both the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and European Command (EUCOM) Areas of Responsibility (AORs).

In November 2007, Wright reported to the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he earned a master's degree in national security and strategic studies. Upon graduation, he received orders to Headquarters, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill AFB, Fla. While assigned to SOCOM he served on the command's Analytic Agenda team in the J-8 Strategic Studies Directorate.

Wright's personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (2), Navy Commendation Medal (4), Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and various other service and joint awards.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VXS-1 P-3 BUNO: 154589 - RL-589 at NAF Andrews, Maryland on 18 May 2012 by Stephen Miller..." Contributed by Stephen Miller f134kilmil@comcast.net [10JUN2012]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCamera120302-N-PO203-377 PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (March 2, 2012) "...Dr. Michael Pollock, right, surface and aerospace surveillance program manager at the Office of Naval Research, explains current research programs to Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research, during a flight aboard a research-modified NP-3D Orion aircraft assigned to Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1. VXS-1 supports the Naval Research Enterprise by conducting manned and unmanned airborne science and technology operations. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)..." WebSite: NAVY.MIL http://www.navy.mil/ [18MAR2012]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCamera120302-N-PO203-423 PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (March 2, 2012) "...Dr. Michael Pollock, left, surface and aerospace surveillance program manager at the Office of Naval Research, observes as Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research, operates a MX-20 HD camera during a flight aboard a research-modified NP-3D Orion aircraft assigned to Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1. VXS-1 supports the Naval Research Enterprise by conducting manned and unmanned airborne science and technology operations. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)..." WebSite: NAVY.MIL http://www.navy.mil/ [18MAR2012]

Circa 2007

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVXS-1 History "...The Flying Laboratories of VXS-1 - Wings of Gold - Fall 2007 - Page 6..." WebSite: Association Of Naval Aviation http://www.anahq.org/ [14NOV2007]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Please describe a typical mission or two completed by VXS-1 and Change-of-Command - Wings of Gold - Fall 2007 - Page 7-8 and 10..." WebSite: Association Of Naval Aviation http://www.anahq.org/ [14NOV2007]

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Circa 2006

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVXS-1 History "...VXS-1 completes geophysical mapping project in Afghanistan Economic resource exploration covers two-thirds of country - By Rick Thompson Staff Writer - Thursday, October 26, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DCMilitary http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/102606/tester_27843.shtml [14NOV2007]

Photograph Caption: Pilot Lt. Scott Price and flight engineer AD1 Timothy Miller confer during one of the survey flights over Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is on the way to becoming economically self-sufficient as the result of a geophysical survey flown by members of the VXS-1 squadron at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

The project, a joint operation with the Naval Research Laboratory, actually began with the Afghan government's approach to the U.S. Geological Survey. The aim, according to John Brozena, head of the NRL's Marine Physics Branch, was "to develop a project that would help exploit or look for economic resources within Afghanistan." Those resources include gas, oil, minerals and terrain where roads or bridges could be built.

"This is part of the United States' effort to build a stable, self-sustaining economy in Afghanistan," said Brozena. "It was suspected that Afghanistan could have substantial geologic resources that could allow them to build a legal economy. Right now, they have essentially no legal method of generating jobs and money inside the country. USGS was given the task of helping them do that, and NRL became involved because of its experience working with the Navy on airborne surveys."

Brozena approached VXS-1 about the possibility of taking an NP-3D Orion to Afghanistan, outfitted with remote sensing devices to do the job. "The answer from VXS-1 was that they were interested, and the job was do-able," he said.

After two years of negotiations and discussion, the Afghan government underwrote the project for $4 million. Another $2 million came from U.S. sources that "took the opportunity of the airplane being there with these sensors to piggy-back on top of what the Afghans wanted," said Brozena.

With funding completed in August 2005, the Afghan government "wanted us to deploy as quickly as possible," said VXS-1 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Patrick Herring. "The serious modification work began in early September 2005, but when the modifications to the NP-3D were done, the limiting factor was that we were going to operate out of Kandahar, and they were in the process of rebuilding the runways."

He continued, "We were ready in mid-March, and we deployed the day after they completed the left half of the runway." The advance party to set up maintenance, computers, telephones, etc., left NAS Patuxent River, Maryland on May 2, 2006. The main body of the force left May 8. The NP-3D arrived in Kandahar in early June. The project was done with one airplane and staff of approximately 40, which included U.S. Navy air crew as well as U.S. civilians and Canadian Forces project specialists.

When it arrived, the NP-3D had an extensive array of equipment installed, including:

  • Airborne gravity sensor designed to measure gravity contrasts from different rock and soil types. It is, says Brozena, "a good sensor for detecting geological structures that might be associated with oil and gas."

  • Airborne magnetometer, very similar to what the NP-3D normally carries for anti-submarine warfare. "In this case, we were looking for the magnetic structure of geology that might be associated with oil, gas and mineral resources," said Brozena.

  • A prototype L-Band Polarmetric Imaging Synthetic Aperture Radar developed by the NRL's radar division. It is designed, said Brozena, to "look for land forms, shapes and structures the basic surface and very shallow subsurface of the geology under the aircraft."

  • Digital photogrametric camera to do a photo mapping of the country.

  • Another prototype, this time a Hyperspectral Imaging Camera developed by the NRL remote sensing group.

    "It was a very complete group of airborne geophysical sensors, probably the most complete flown to date," said Brozena. "Certainly this group of sensors has never been flown before."

    Herring noted that all the modification work was done at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. In addition to the sensors, "There had to be modifications made for survivability, just like any other aircraft going into a combat theater," said Herring. Those included gray paint on the outside, foam in the fuel tanks, an infrared strobe, and a warning system complete with chaff and flares.

    At the same time, a survey plan was developed that would cover as much of Afghanistan as possible. With mountain peaks as high as 20,000 feet, the operation was limited by the necessity of maintaining ground clearance from hostile fire. All told, the NP-3D flew 40 missions over a period of 10 weeks, totalling 226 hours over the country and mapping approximately two-thirds of the nation.

    As it happened, the safest place to be was in the air. The NP-3D was never fired on, but, said Herring, "on the ground, Kandujar was a very busy place while we were there."

    The result of this detailed mapping is that, according to Herring, "if you look at a spot on the ground, you can look at various levels of information for that one spot, where in the past you'd have a map from one effort, then a map from another effort, and maybe a map from a third. The airplane would not have been in the same place for all three, and they may have each been done 20 years apart."

    Without GPS, which was invented by NRL in the 1960s, the project would have been virtually impossible, said Brozena. "We can position the airplane very precisely to within a couple of inches."

    All told, the survey collected 50 terabytes (a terabyte equals 1,000 gigabytes) of data, much of which is yet to be processed. "The final delivery of gravity and magnetics will be in two-three months," Brozema said. "The rest will take longer because there's more of it. We'll be working on this for quite some time."

    VXS-1 aircrew members returned home to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland August 28, and when Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, at the Pentagon in late September, Brozena and Herring presented him with an image of Afghanistan's Kazaki Dam generated from the mapping survey, as well as a flag in commemoration of the project.

    This is probably not the end for such surveys. There is interest by Pakistan in a similar survey of its eastern territories which border Afghanistan, according to Brozena. In addition, "There is interest in not only economic development but humanitarian issues," he said. "There has been discussions with Central Command to help them in some areas of Africa where there is a terrible drought and U.S. armed forces are out there actually digging wells."

    "At this point, we expect there will be future missions taking science and technology out into the field, contributing to the Global War on Terror," Herring said.

    Making the mission a success is "where the relationship here on the base has been important. For example, we worked with AIMD to insure we had a spare engine and propeller standing by. It never happened, but if we had lost an engine or a prop, we would have had to draw on the fleet but a replacement for the fleet's stock would have been shipped immediately from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, so we would minimize our impact on the fleet," Herring said.

    Other examples: VX-20 did the flight quality checks on the radome installed on the NP-3D. PMA-290 (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) worked on the mission's survivability issues. NAVAIR was intimately involved with the project's flight planning. "This shows the unique partnership of what we do at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland," he continued. VXS-1's remaining staff had to keep up with the workload while half the squadron was on deployment. "No one can say we did it all by ourselves; I can't say enough about that partnership."

    Herring concluded, "Most of the people on this project feel it is the most important thing they have ever done in their military careers. They had the vision of what this was doing to help the Afghan people to be self-sustaining. It will always be a milestone for me."

    Copyright 2007 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVXS-1 History "...VXS-1 returns home - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - Tester..." WebSite: DCMilitary http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/102606/tester_27843.shtml [14NOV2007]

    Photograph Caption: VXS-1 ground support team members are welcomed home to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland Sunday after three months in Afghanistan where the squadron completed a geophysical survey for that country's government. Photo by Kurt Lengfield

    Family, friends and VXS-1 members gathered on the tarmac near VXS-1 hangar Monday to welcome hone several of their squadron members who were returning from a three-month stint in Afghanistan.

    While there, the VXS-1 squadron aircrew members spent nearly 230 hours in their P-3 Orion completing a geophysical survey of Afghanistan to support that country's reconstruction effort to build an independent, self-sustaining economic system.

    According to the squadron commanding officer, Cmdr. Patrick Herring, the mission was completed with a team of about 40 individuals to include the Navy aircrew, several civil service employees from the Naval Research Laboratory and two Canadian project specialists, as well as several ground support people.

    The Afghanistan government funded the project, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, NRL and the squadron.

    With the P-3 sensors, the squadron surveyed about 75 percent of the country looking for resources, such as natural gas, oil, minerals and vegetation. All survey results were turned over to the Afghanistan government for its scientists to interpret.

    Copyright 2007 Comprint Military Publications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    Circa 2005

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...February 10, 2005 - Naval Research Laboratory flight support becomes VXS-1 - by Lt. John A. Rubino - SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT SQUADRON ONE..." WebSite: NAS Patuxent River Tester [12APR2005]

    The Naval Research Laboratory Flight Support Detachment late last year was modified into one of the Navy's newest commands, Scientific Development Squadron One (VXS-1).

    While VXS-1 will continue its mission as the Naval Research Laboratory's aviation component, the new squadron will now be its own command.

    Located here, VXS-1 is manned by 13 officers, 66 enlisted, and 12 civilians. The squadron is responsible for the maintenance and security of four uniquely configured P-3 Orion turboprop research aircraft. It conducts numerous single-aircraft deployments around the world in support of a wide range of scientific research projects.

    The Flight Support Detachment has provided flight support for diverse research programs including: the Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortices Experiment (BAMEX), Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), Airborne Geographical Sensor Suite (AGSS), Global Netcentric Surveillance and Targeting (GUNCOAST), and Airborne Geophysical Sensor Suite (AGSS).

    Before returning here from Argentina, the detachment supported the Antarctic Sea Ice Campaign 2004 (AASI/04), and flew missions in and around the Palmer Peninsula on the Antarctic continent. AASI 04 had several objectives and goals including evaluation of spatial variability to fully assess how accurately sea ice parameters can be derived; a study of new ice emissivity, heat and salinity fluxes over coastal waters; and a determination of precise locations of ice edges. The project produced favorable results and was deemed a success.

    Several projects have been scheduled for 2005, including operations in Alaska, Tampa, and the Middle East.

    VXS-1's flight safety record spans more than 40 years and includes more than 62,000 mishap free flight hours. The command has continued to improve capabilities and diversity among its aircraft platforms. Aircraft 153442 has undergone extensive modifications with Lockheed Martin to install a "rotodome" antenna and full AEW radar system. The aircraft is supporting the Navy's Theater Air Defense programs and providing a test bed for advanced EW radar research. Additionally, all aircraft completed extensive bomb-bay design improvements that will allow the aircraft to carry more diverse scientific payloads. The Electra Doppler Radar (ELDORA) and a laser were installed on aircraft 154587 during an extensive modification for the BAMEX project, and will be used in upcoming atmospheric research projects

    The new command will be formally recognized in a establishment ceremony Feb. 18 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Hangar 305 at 10 a.m.

    Circa 2004

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...ESTABLISHMENT OF SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT SQUADRON ONE ACTIVITY..." WebSite: Navy Electronic Directives System http://neds.daps.dla.mil/Directives/table27.html [08JAN2005]

    Canc frp: Dec 05
    OPNAVNOTE 5450
    Ser DNS33/4U681973
    December 13, 2004

    From: Chief of Naval Operations


    Ref: (a) OPNAVINST 5450.169D

    (b) SNDL (OPNAVNOTE 5400 Series)

    1. Purpose. To implement Secretary of the Navy approval to establish subject shore activities under the command and support of the Chief of Naval Research (CNR) per reference (a).

    2. Background. The Naval Research Laboratory currently has a Flight Support Detachment at NAS Patuxent River to provide heavy lift aircraft capable of supporting scientific research projects around the world for Navy, Department of Defense and other government agencies that contribute to Naval Research. Current action recognizes the increasing complexity, operations tempo and worldwide deployments of the detachment and re-designates it as a stand alone shore activity, similar to training squadrons, designated as Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1). The action also recognizes the increasing need for a commanding officer to head the command as it expands its role into the area of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) and other research operations. The Squadron Support Activity will provide the flight operations, aircraft maintenance and ground support functions for VXS-1.

    3. Organizational Changes. Establish Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1) and Scientific Development Squadron ONE Support Activity effective immediately. The following applies:

    (SEE OPNAVNOTE 5450 PDF 65KB File OPNAVNOTE 5420 for complete memorandum).

    "VXS-1 Summary Page"