US Navy’s research lab receives new airborne research aircraft

US Navy photo of the Twin Otter aircraft

The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the navy’s premier science and technology research squadron, Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), have unveiled the UV-18 “Twin Otter” as the newest addition to the squadron’s fleet of aircraft research platforms.

The UV-18 is the military equivalent of the DeHavilland DHC-6 — a high-wing, unpressurized twin engine turbine powered aircraft with fixed tricycle landing gear.

“The Twin Otter is a safe, highly maneuverable and extremely versatile aircraft,” said Cmdr. Erik Thomas, commanding officer for VXS-1. “The fact that it is unpressurized simplifies modifications and will accelerate our ability to get projects airborne for the Naval Research Enterprise.”

The aircraft compliments the VXS-1 “Warlocks” fleet by providing an affordable and stable research platform with slow flight capabilities and an operational payload of up to 3,000 pounds.

The performance capabilities of the UV-18 aircraft offer a slow flight speed of 85 mph, a maximum cruise speed of 190 mph, a nominal service ceiling of 13,000 feet (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 and P-3C Orions, an RC-12 King Air, and 12 TigerShark Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

“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,” Thomas said.

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.

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, and remote measuring of water contained in snow for NASA.

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