NRL VXS-1 Change of Command

Cmdr. Jared Tharp, left, salutes and is relieved by Cmdr. Ian Lilyquist, right, as commander of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1 during a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Nov. 6.

Cmdr. Ian Lilyquist relieved Cmdr. Jared Tharp as commander of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1 during a change of command ceremony held at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Nov. 6.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Commanding Officer Capt. Ricardo Vigil presented Tharp with the Meritorious Service Medal. Tharp served as the VXS-1 Commanding Officer from August 2019 to November 2020. Vigil said Tharp’s distinguished leadership was instrumental to the squadron’s continued record of superlative support to NRL’s airborne mission.

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

“The work being done by the VXS-1 squadron is vital for the Naval Research Enterprise,” Selby said. “Conducting naval science and technology experiments in the air is a truly demanding job, but Cmdr. Tharp has done it — helping our Sailors and Marines maintain their technological edge.”

As the new head of VXS-1, Lilyquist will carry on the tradition of premier airborne Science & Technology support.

“I am deeply humbled, honored, and excited to lead this incredible squadron as its 14th commanding officer,” Lilyquist said. “Our mission is more important now than ever. As the Navy and Department of Defense modernize and take advantage of the rapid advances in technology that we see today, VXS-1 provides the ability to test and field new systems at the speed of relevance.”

Lilyquist, a native of Grafton, Wisconsin, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering, and received his Masters Degrees in Ocean Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

VXS-1 operates and maintains two uniquely modified NP-3C Orion, a RC-12 Huron, a UV-18 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 400 flight hours. These aircraft are the sole airborne platforms for numerous projects such as bathymetry, electronic countermeasures, gravity mapping, and radar development research.

The squadron has a flawless safety record, having amassed more than 77,000 hours of accident-free flying since 1963.