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1914 (As the Royal Naval Air Service) 1924 (as the naval branch of the Royal Air Force) 1937 (as part of Naval Service)

Country

Allegiance Queen Elizabeth II

Branch  Royal Navy

Size 5,000 personnel Approx. 174 aircraft[1]

Part of Naval Service

Engagements Second World War Korean War Operation Musketeer (Suez Crisis) Falklands War Gulf War Afghanistan War Iraq War

Website [1]-FAA

Commanders

Rear Admiral, Fleet Air Arm Rear Admiral
Admiral
Keith Blount OBE RN

Commodore-in-Chief HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York

Insignia

Roundels

White Ensign

Badge

Aircraft flown

Attack Wildcat HMA2

Patrol Merlin HM2 Wildcat HMA2

Reconnaissance Wildcat AH1

Trainer King Air Tutor Hawk

Transport Merlin HC3/3A/i3 Sea King HC4 Wildcat AH1

Her Majesty's Naval Service of the British Armed Forces

Components

Royal Navy

Surface Fleet Fleet Air Arm Submarine Service Royal Naval Reserve Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Medical Service Nursing Service (QARNNS) Chaplaincy Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Police

Royal Marines

Royal Marines
Royal Marines
Reserve Special
Special
Boat Service

Naval Careers Service

History and future

History of the Royal Navy / Royal Marines

Customs and traditions Future

Ships

Current fleet Current deployments

Historic ships

Personnel

The Admiralty Senior officers Uniforms

Officer / ratings rank insignia

Auxiliary services

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Marine Services

v t e

An elephant pulling a Supermarine Walrus
Supermarine Walrus
aircraft into position at a Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
station in India (c. June 1944).

The Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
(FAA) is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King, and AgustaWestland Wildcat helicopters and the BAE Hawk. Helicopters such as the Lynx and Westland Wasp
Westland Wasp
have been deployed on smaller vessels since 1964, taking over the roles once performed by biplanes such as the Fairey Swordfish. The Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
was formed in 1924 as an organisational unit of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
which was then operating the aircraft embarked on RN ships – the Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
having been merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
in 1918, to form the Royal Air Force – and did not come under the direct control of the Admiralty
Admiralty
until mid-1939. During the Second World War, the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
operated aircraft on ships as well as land-based aircraft that defended the Royal Navy's shore establishments and facilities.

Contents

1 History

1.1 Beginnings 1.2 Fleet Air Arm 1.3 Post-war history

1.3.1 End of the Cold War 1.3.2 Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Inventory 1989

1.4 Post Cold War

1.4.1 Helicopters 1.4.2 Museums

2 The FAA today

2.1 Personnel 2.2 Aircraft 2.3 Future aircraft 2.4 Squadrons and Flights

3 Notable members 4 See also 5 References 6 Bibliography 7 External links

History[edit] Beginnings[edit] Main article: Royal Naval Air Service British naval flying started in 1909, with the construction of an airship for naval duties.[2] In 1911 the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
graduated its first aeroplane pilots at the Royal Aero Club
Royal Aero Club
flying ground at Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey
Isle of Sheppey
under the tutelage of pioneer aviator George Bertram Cockburn.[3] In May 1912, naval and army aviation were combined to become the Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
(RFC). The Naval Wing of the RFC lasted until July 1914 when the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
reformed its air branch, under the Air Department
Air Department
of the Admiralty, naming it the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS).[citation needed][4] By the outbreak of the First World War, in August 1914, the RNAS had more aircraft under its control than the remaining RFC.[citation needed] The roles of the RNAS were fleet reconnaissance, patrolling coasts for enemy ships and submarines, attacking enemy coastal territory and defending Britain from enemy air raids, along with deployment along the Western Front. In April 1918 the RNAS, which at this time had 67,000 officers and men, 2,949 aircraft, 103 airships and 126 coastal stations, merged with the RFC to form the Royal Air Force. Fleet Air Arm[edit] On 1 April 1924, the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
was formed, encompassing those RAF units that normally embarked on aircraft carriers and fighting ships.[5] The year was significant for British naval aviation as only weeks before the founding of the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
had commissioned HMS Hermes, the world's first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier. Over the following months RAF Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Fairey IIID
Fairey IIID
reconnaissance biplanes operated off Hermes, conducting flying trials. On 24 May 1939 the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
was returned to Admiralty
Admiralty
control[6] under the Inskip Award" (named after the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence overseeing the British re-armament programme) and renamed the Air Branch of the Royal Navy. At the onset of the Second World War, the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
consisted of 20 squadrons with only 232 aircraft. By the end of the war the strength of the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
was 59 aircraft carriers, 3,700 aircraft, 72,000 officers and men and 56 Naval air stations. During the war, the FAA operated fighters, torpedo bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Following the Dunkirk evacuation
Dunkirk evacuation
and the commencement of the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
soon found itself critically short of fighter pilots. In the summer of 1940, the RAF had just over 800 fighter pilots and as personnel shortages worsened; the RAF turned to the Admiralty
Admiralty
to ask for help from the Fleet Air Arm. Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
crews under RAF Fighter Command
RAF Fighter Command
were either seconded individually to RAF fighter squadrons or entire as with 804 and 808 Naval Air Squadrons. The former provided dockyard defence during the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
with Sea Gladiators.[7] In British home waters and out into the Atlantic Ocean, operations against Axis shipping and submarines in support of the RN were mounted by RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command
with large patrol bombers, flying boats and land-based fighter-bombers. The aircraft carrier had replaced the battleship as the capital ship of the RN and its aircraft were now its principal offensive weapons. The top scoring fighter ace with 17 victories was Commander
Commander
Stanley Orr, the Royal Marine ace was Ronald Cuthbert Hay with 13 victories. A number of Royal Marines
Royal Marines
were FAA pilots during the war. Notable Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
operations during the war included the Battle of Taranto, the sinking of the Bismarck, Operation Tungsten
Operation Tungsten
against the Tirpitz and Operation Meridian against oil plants in Sumatra. Post-war history[edit]

Hawker Sea Fury
Hawker Sea Fury
of No. 804 Squadron launched off HMS Glory during the Korean War, June 1951

Phantom FG.1 of 892 NAS aboard HMS Ark Royal in 1972

Two Sea Harriers from 800 Naval Air Squadron
800 Naval Air Squadron
approach the flight deck of U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy
aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
in 1984.

After the war the FAA needed to fly jet aircraft from their carriers. The jet aircraft of the era were considerably less effective at low speeds than propeller aircraft, but propeller aircraft could not effectively fight jets at the high speeds flown by jet aircraft. The FAA took on its first jet, the Sea Vampire, in the late 1940s. The Sea Vampire was the first jet credited with taking off and landing on a carrier. The Air Arm continued with high-powered prop aircraft alongside the new jets resulting in the FAA being woefully outpowered during the Korean War. Nevertheless, jets were not yet wholly superior to propeller aircraft and a flight of ground attack Hawker Sea Furies downed a MiG-15 and damaged others in an engagement. As jets became larger, more powerful and faster they required more space to take off and land. The US Navy
US Navy
simply built much larger carriers. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
had a few large carriers built and completed after the end of the war but another solution was sought. This was partly overcome by the introduction of a Royal Navy
Royal Navy
idea to angle the flight deck away from the centre line so that the aircraft landing had a clear run away from the usual forward deck park. An associated British invention, intended to provide more precise optical guidance to aircraft on final approaching the deck, was the Fresnel lens optical landing aid. Another Royal Navy
Royal Navy
invention was the use of a steam-powered catapult to cater for the larger and heavier aircraft (both systems were adopted by the US Navy). Defence cuts across the British armed forces during the 1960s and 1970s led to the withdrawal of existing Royal Navy
Royal Navy
aircraft carriers, transfer of Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
fixed-wing jet strike aircraft such as the F-4K (FG.1) Phantom II and Buccaneer S.2 to the Royal Air Force, and cancellation of large replacement aircraft carriers, including the CVA-01
CVA-01
design. The last conventional carrier to be retired was HMS Ark Royal in 1978.[8] A new series of small carriers, the Invincible class anti-submarine warfare ships (known as "through deck cruisers") were built and equipped with the Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
a derivative of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier
Hawker Siddeley Harrier
VTOL
VTOL
aircraft. These carriers incorporated an upswept forward section of the flight deck that deflected the aircraft upward on launch and permitted heavier loads to be carried by the Harrier, for example in weaponry, and the system was used extensively in the Falklands War. End of the Cold War[edit] At the end of the Cold War
Cold War
in 1989 the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
was under the command of the Flag Officer Naval Air Command, a Rear Admiral
Admiral
based at RNAS Yeovilton.

Flag Officer Naval Air Command
Flag Officer Naval Air Command
(FONAC), at RNAS Yeovilton

RNAS Prestwick:

819 Naval Air Squadron, (Anti-submarine, 12x Sea King HAS.5) 826 Naval Air Squadron, (Anti-submarine, 12x Sea King HAS.6) HMS Gannet SAR Flight, (Search & Rescue, 8x Sea King HU.5)

RNAS Yeovilton:

707 Naval Air Squadron, (Air Assault, 10x Sea King HC.4) 800 Naval Air Squadron, (12x Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
FA.2) 801 Naval Air Squadron, (12x Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
FA.2) 845 Naval Air Squadron, (Air Assault, 10x Sea King HC.4) 846 Naval Air Squadron, (Air Assault, 10x Sea King HC.4) 899 Naval Air Squadron, (Training, 24x Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
FA.2) Fleet Requirements and Aircraft Direction Unit, (Aggressor Squadron, Canberra TT.18, Hawker Hunter
Hawker Hunter
GA.11)

RNAS Culdrose:

705 Naval Air Squadron, (Basic Helicopter
Helicopter
Training, 38x Gazelle HT.2) 706 Naval Air Squadron, (Sea King Training, 12x various types of Sea King) 750 Naval Air Squadron, (Observer Training, Jetstream T2) 771 Naval Air Squadron, (Search & Rescue, 12x Sea King HU.5) 814 Naval Air Squadron, (Anti-submarine, 12x Sea King HAS.5) 820 Naval Air Squadron, (Anti-submarine, 12x Sea King HAS.6) 824 Naval Air Squadron, (Anti-submarine, 12x Sea King HAS.6) (disbanded August 1989) 849 Naval Air Squadron, (Airborne early warning and control, 10x Sea King AEW.2A, 4x Sea King AEW.5)

RNAS Portland:

702 Naval Air Squadron, (Aircrew & Maintenance Training, 24x Lynx HAS.3S) 772 Naval Air Squadron, (Air Assault, 10x Sea King HC.4) 810 Naval Air Squadron, (Anti-submarine, 12x Sea King HAS.6) 815 Naval Air Squadron, ( Frigate
Frigate
& Destroyer Helicopters, 32x Lynx HAS.3S, most deployed on frigates and destroyers at sea) 829 Naval Air Squadron, ( Frigate
Frigate
& Destroyer Helicopters, 32x Lynx HAS.3S, most deployed on frigates and destroyers at sea)

Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Inventory 1989[edit] The inventory of the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
in 1989 consisted of the following aircraft:[9]

Combat aircraft:

42x Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
FRS.1/F(A).2 2x/2x Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
T.4A/T.4N

Helicopters:

60+ Sea King HAS.5 31+ Sea King HAS.6 10x Sea King AEW.2A 33x Sea King HC.4 80+ Lynx HAS.3S 23x/8x Gazelle HT.2/HT.3

Trainers:

3x Canberra TT.18 14x Chipmunk T.10 5x Hunter T.8M 12x/9x Hunter GA.11/T8 19x Jetstream T.2

Liaison:

16x Dassault Falcon 20
Dassault Falcon 20
(Civil-registered)

Post Cold War[edit]

A formation of four Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
FA.2s from 801 NAS in 2005.

In 2000 the Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
force was merged with the RAF's Harrier GR7 fleet to form Joint Force Harrier. The Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
began withdrawing the Sea Harrier
Sea Harrier
from service in 2004 with the disbandment of 800 NAS. 801 NAS disbanded on 28 March 2006 at RNAS Yeovilton
RNAS Yeovilton
(HMS Heron). 800 and 801 NAS were then combined to form the Naval Strike Wing, flying ex-RAF Harrier GR7 and GR9s. On 1 April 2010, NSW reverted to the identity of 800 Naval Air Squadron. The Harrier GR7 and GR9 retired from service in December 2010 following the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010.[10] Two new Queen Elizabeth class carriers able to operate the F-35B
F-35B
short take-off and landing variant of the US Lockheed Martin Lightning II aircraft are under construction. In the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, it was announced that the carriers would enter service "from 2018".[11] The current procurement plan is for a force of 138 F-35 aircraft, which are intended to be operated by both the RAF and FAA from a common pool, in the same manner as the Joint Force Harrier.[12] With the introduction of the F-35, the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
will eventually return to the operation of fixed-wing strike aircraft at sea. In 2013, an initial cadre of Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
and Royal Navy pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel were assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps' Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), part of the U.S. Air Force's 33rd Fighter Wing
33rd Fighter Wing
at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for training on the F-35B. 809 Naval Air Squadron
809 Naval Air Squadron
will be the first FAA unit to operate the F-35B
F-35B
and will be based at RAF Marham.[13] Helicopters[edit] Helicopters also became important combat platforms since the Second World War. Initially used in the search and rescue role, they were later developed for anti-submarine warfare and troop transport; during the 1956 Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
they were used to land Royal Marine Commando forces, the first time this had ever been done in combat.[14] Originally operated only from carriers, the development of the Westland Wasp
Westland Wasp
in the 1960s allowed helicopters to operate on all ships of frigate size or larger. Wasps, Sea Kings and Wessex helicopters all played an active part in the 1982 Falklands War, while Lynx helicopters played an attack role against Iraqi patrol boats in the 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
and Commando Sea King HC4s as well as the Lynx HMA Mk 8 from HMS Argyll, assisted in suppressing rebel forces in the British intervention in the Sierra Leone Civil War in 2000. Museums[edit] The Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
has a museum near RNAS Yeovilton
RNAS Yeovilton
(HMS Heron) in Somerset, England at which many of the great historical aircraft flown by the Service are on display, along with aircraft from other sources. There is also a Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
museum inside the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland, New Zealand. On display there is a full-size replica Fairey Swordfish, along with historic items and memorabilia. The FAA today[edit] Personnel[edit] In 1938, Admiralty
Admiralty
Fleet Orders 2885 announced the formation of an Air Branch of the Royal Naval Reserve. Thirty three unmarried men signed up for eighteen months full-time flying training; however, before these first volunteers were able to gain their wings Britain was at war. At the end of hostilities in 1945 the RNVR(A) was 46,000 strong, with over 8,000 aircrew. Post war the RNVR(A) comprised 12 dedicated reserve squadrons, grouped regionally into Air Divisions. However, defence cuts in 1957 disbanded the five Air Divisions, and the following year the RNVR was merged with the RNR. The RNR Air Branch was commissioned at RNAS Yeovilton
RNAS Yeovilton
on 16 July 1980, and shortly afterwards 38 ex-regular aircrew began refresher training. Today the Air Branch comprises approx 250 ex-regular service Officers and Ratings, covering all aviation trades, tasked to support the Fleet Air Arm. As of 1 December 2013, the Regular Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
has a reported strength of 5,000 personnel,[15] which represents approximately 20% of the Royal Navy's total strength (excluding Royal Marines). The Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation & Carriers), the professional head, who is also Rear Admiral
Admiral
Fleet Air Arm, is Rear Admiral
Admiral
Keith E Blount OBE, who relieved the previous incumbent, Rear Admiral
Admiral
R. G. Harding OBE, in May 2015.[16] Aircraft[edit]

The Wildcat HMA.2 will become the standard small shipborne helicopter in the FAA, replacing the Lynx

Further information: List of active United Kingdom
United Kingdom
military aircraft The FAA operates fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. It uses the same designation system for aircraft as the RAF. Three types of fixed wing aircraft are operated by the FAA for training purposes: pilot training is carried out using the Grob Tutor
Grob Tutor
while, from March 2011, observer training is done using four Avenger T.1 Beechcraft King Air 350ER.[17] The third type is the Hawk T1/1A, which is used to simulate enemy aircraft for training purposes including AEW Fighter Control, air to air combat and ship attack.

A Merlin of 824 NAS alongside a Sea King ASaC7 of 849 NAS

Today the largest section of the FAA is the rotary wing section. Its aviators fly four types of helicopters, and within each type there are usually several marks/variants which carry out different roles. Pilots designated for rotary wing service train at the Defence Helicopter Flying School, RAF Shawbury. The School is a tri-Service organisation consisting of civilian and military instructors (including Naval instructors and a Naval Air Squadron) that take the student from basic flying through to more advanced flying such as instrument flying, navigation, formation and captaincy. The oldest aircraft in the fleet is the Westland Sea King, which performs missions in several variants. The Sea King HC4 serves as a medium lifter and troop transporter in support of the Royal Marines. The HU.5 model operates in the Search and rescue role and the ASaC7 variant operates in the AEW role. Intermediate in age is the Westland Lynx. The Lynx AH.9A serves the FAA in observation and transport roles. Along with the Sea King HC4s, they equip the RN Commando Helicopter
Helicopter
Force, which provides airborne support to 3 Commando Brigade
3 Commando Brigade
of the Royal Marines. To replace the Sea King in the Commando role, the Fleet Air Arm received the Merlin HC3/HC3A fleet previously operated by the RAF. These aircraft were transferred to the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
in September 2014 and will be fully navalised and redesignated as HC4s/HC4As, under the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) that was placed on contract in December 2013. The surface combatants of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
have their helicopters provided for the most part by the Lynx HMA8 aircraft. The Lynxes primarily have anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface vessel roles. They are able to fire the Sea Skua
Sea Skua
anti-surface missile, which was used to combat the Iraqi Navy in the 1991 Gulf War. It can be armed with Stingray air launched torpedoes and depth charges for anti-submarine warfare, as well as heavy calibre machine guns. The Lynx was originally envisaged for surface combatants that were too small for the Sea King, but now equips most frigates and destroyers of the Royal Navy. The Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
is introducing a total of 28 AW159 Wildcat HMA.2 helicopters to replace the Lynx HMA.8 in use in the Ship's Flights of the Royal Navy's escorts – this will perform a range of roles including anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare and airborne surveillance. The AgustaWestland Merlin is the FAA's primary Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopter, having replaced the Sea King HAS.6 in the role. It is presently being upgraded from HM.1 to HM.2 standard and is deployed with various ships of the Royal Navy. Future aircraft[edit]

The Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
plans to operate the F-35B
F-35B
from the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

Further information: Future of the Royal Navy Currently the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
is an all rotary wing force. However, the introduction of the F-35B
F-35B
Lightning II will see a restoration of fixed wing, front-line operations. An initial order of 48 airframes was made in 2012 to equip the air wings of the planned two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, with the operation split between the FAA and the Royal Air Force, as was the case with Joint Force Harrier. 809 Naval Air Squadron
809 Naval Air Squadron
was announced as the second UK unit to fly the F-35B, the first being 617 Squadron RAF, and will be the first Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
unit to operate the aircraft. It is understood that at least two further frontline squadrons will stand up in the future alongside 809, 617, 17(R) Test and Evaluation Squadron and an RAF-numbered Operational Conversion Unit, creating a front-line fleet of four squadrons in addition to the OCU and OEU. Under the Strategic Defence and Security Review of November 2015, the UK Government made a commitment to buying 138 F-35B, with at least 24 available for carrier use by 2024.[citation needed] There is a project to replace the Sea King ASaC7 in the Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) mission. Known as 'Crowsnest', the Assessment Phase for this project is under contract and involves competitive proposals for implementing the ASaC capability in a platform based upon the new Merlin HM2 helicopter. The Main Gate for the project is in 2017, a £269 million agreement in early 2017 was made by the MOD. MOD DE&S signed a £30 million contract for the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle on 20 June 2013, to provide small, unmanned surveillance aircraft to equip RN warships and RFA ships. The Royal Navy's first UAV entered service with 831 Maritime Unmanned Aerial System (Mar UAS) Flight in December 2013 and is based at RNAS Culdrose. Squadrons and Flights[edit] A Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
flying squadron is formally titled Naval Air Squadron (NAS),[18] a title used as a suffix to the squadron number. The FAA assigns numbers in the 700–799 range to training and operational conversion squadrons and numbers in the 800–899 range to operational squadrons. Exceptions to the 700-799 include operational conversion squadrons which also hold some form of operational commitment where they are then titled 800-899. During WWII the 1700 and 1800 ranges were also used for operational squadrons. Squadrons active in the FAA are:[18]

Unit Type Aircraft Base Role Notes

Flying Squadrons

700X Naval Air Squadron UAV Scan Eagle RM.1 RNAS Culdrose Remotely Piloted Aircraft System shipborne flights[19] Provides HQ function for ScanEagle flights and serve as evaluation unit for any future UAV systems selected by the Royal Navy

RPAS future trials unit[19]

703 Naval Air Squadron Fixed-wing Tutor T.1 RAF Barkston Heath Elementary flying training Part of the Defence Elementary Flying Training School

705 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Squirrel HT.1 and HT.2 RAF Shawbury Basic and Advanced Single Engine helicopter training Part of tri-service Defence Helicopter
Helicopter
Flying School alongside 660 Squadron AAC and 60 Squadron RAF

727 Naval Air Squadron Fixed-wing Tutor T.1 RNAS Yeovilton Pilot grading and Air Experience/Elementary Flying Training[20]

736 Naval Air Squadron Fixed wing Hawk T.1/T.1A RNAS Culdrose Air combat simulated training Formerly FRADU

750 Naval Air Squadron Fixed-wing Avenger T.1 RNAS Culdrose Observer grading and training

809 Naval Air Squadron Fixed-wing Lightning II RAF Marham Carrier-borne fighter/strike To reform in April 2023.[21]

814 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Merlin HM.2 RNAS Culdrose Anti-submarine warfare Merged with 829 NAS in 2018[22]

815 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Wildcat HMA.2[23][24][25] RNAS Yeovilton Small ship flights

820 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Merlin HM.2 RNAS Culdrose Anti-submarine warfare

824 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Merlin HM.2 RNAS Culdrose Conversion Training (Merlin ASW)

825 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Wildcat HMA.2 RNAS Yeovilton Conversion Training (Wildcat) Formed by merger of 700W NAS and 702 NAS in August 2014[23]

845 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Merlin HC.3/HC.3A RNAS Yeovilton Medium lift Part of CHF

846 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Merlin HC.3/HC.3A RNAS Yeovilton Medium lift Part of CHF

Conversion Training (Merlin Cdo)

847 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Wildcat AH.1[26] RNAS Yeovilton Battlefield reconnaissance and support Part of CHF

849 Naval Air Squadron Rotary Sea King ASaC.7 RNAS Culdrose Airborne surveillance Amalgamated with 854 NAS and 857 NAS in 2015 To convert to Merlin Crowsnest in 2018[27]

Non-flying squadrons

1700 Naval Air Squadron Rotary & fixed-wing

RNAS Culdrose Flight Deck activities, Logistic and Catering Support, Operations, Engineering Support, even medical assistance Technical support Formerly Maritime Aviation Support Force (MASF)

1710 Naval Air Squadron Rotary & fixed-wing

HMNB Portsmouth Specialist aircraft repair, modification and scientific support Technical support

Flights

Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Historic Flight Fixed-wing number of historic aircraft RNAS Yeovilton Heritage education and public display

An additional flying unit of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
is the FOST Helicopter Support Unit based at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall. This unit is not part of the Fleet Air Arm, but is directly under the control of Flag Officer Sea Training, operated by a civilian contractor. Notable members[edit] See also: Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
§ Notable personnel

Vice-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Richard Bell Davies, first naval aviator to receive the VC and the first naval aviator of the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
to reach flag rank.

Vice-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Richard Bell Davies
Richard Bell Davies
(1886–1966) – the first naval aviator to receive the VC and the first naval aviator of the Fleet Air Arm to reach flag rank Vice-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Sir Lumley Lyster (1888–1957) – drew up attack plan in 1935 that was used for the Battle of Taranto
Battle of Taranto
five years later Admiral
Admiral
Sir Reginald Portal
Portal
(1894–1983) – naval aviator who was the younger brother of Marshal of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Lord Portal (1893–1971) Captain Henry Fancourt (1900–2004) – a pioneering aviator, he had a distinguished career in naval aviation until 1949. Worked for Short Bros and Hartland. Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson
(1902–1983) – English stage and screen actor, volunteered as a navy pilot during Second World War and rose to the rank of Lieutenant- Commander
Commander
in the Air Branch. Admiral
Admiral
of the Fleet Sir Caspar John
Caspar John
(1903–1984) – First Sea Lord 1960–63 and the first British naval aviator to reach the highest rank within the RN. Admiral
Admiral
Sir Walter Couchman (1905–1981) – naval observer who earned his pilot's wings too, he led the fly-past for the Coronation Fleet Review
Fleet Review
in June 1953. Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1907–1989) – English stage and screen actor and director, volunteered as a navy pilot during the Second World War and rose to the rank of Lieutenant in the Air Branch. Duncan Hamilton – English Grand Prix driver and winner of the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans. Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander
(A) Eugene Esmonde
Eugene Esmonde
(1909–1942) – posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
for leading 825 Naval Air Squadron Swordfish torpedo bombers in an attack on German capital ships during the "Channel Dash". Michael Hordern
Michael Hordern
(1911–1995) – actor, served as fighter controller during World War II. Jeffrey Quill (1913–1996) – RAF officer and Spitfire test pilot (Vickers-Armstrongs) who served five months with Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
as T/Lt.Cdr RNVR in 1944–5, helping to develop better carrier deck-landings with the Supermarine Seafire, the naval version of the Spitfire. Kenneth More
Kenneth More
(1914–1982) – actor, including films such as Reach for the Sky and Sink the Bismarck. Commander
Commander
Charles Lamb (1914–1981) – author of the Second World War Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
autobiography War in a Stringbag. Vice-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Sir Peter Compston (1915–2000) – served briefly in the British Army, then in the RAF for two years, before transferring as a pilot to the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
in 1938. Admiral
Admiral
Sir (Leslie) Derek Empson (1918–1997) – naval pilot who joined the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
as a naval rating. In his flying career, executed 782 aircraft carrier landings without a mishap. Rear- Admiral
Admiral
Cedric Kenelm Roberts (1918–2011) – (always known as 'Chico') a distinguished naval pilot who joined the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
as a naval rating in 1940. He was personal pilot to Vice-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Lumley Lyster in 1943, commanded three Naval Air Squadrons and was shot down during the Korean War. Later, he commanded three Naval Air Stations and ended his naval flying career as Flag Officer Naval Flying Training 1968–71.[28] Lieutenant- Commander
Commander
Charles Wines ("Charlie Wines") (1917–1991) – joined the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
as a Supply Assistant, flew Swordfish torpedo bomber as a rating pilot in the Second World War. Commissioned as a pilot in 1944 he later spent more than twenty years, in the same job as a serving and retired officer, as the FAA Drafting Officer and as such the career manager for thousands of FAA ratings. Rear- Admiral
Admiral
Dennis Cambell (1907–2000) – inventor of the angled flight deck for aircraft carriers in 1951. Rear- Admiral
Admiral
Nick Goodhart (1919–2011) – inventor of the mirror-sight deck landing system for aircraft carriers in 1951. Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown
Eric "Winkle" Brown
(1919–2016) – holds the world record for the most types of aircraft flown by an individual (487 types). As a test pilot he made the first ever jet landing on an aircraft carrier in December 1945. Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander
John Moffat (1919–) – crippled the German battleship Bismarck on 26 May 1941. Admiral
Admiral
Sir John Treacher
John Treacher
(1924–) – naval pilot who was promoted Rear- Admiral
Admiral
at the age of 45 and held four important flag appointments before leaving the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
in 1977, despite many expecting him to become First Sea Lord, for a career in business. Was at the helm of Westland during the political drama of the 1980s. Admiral
Admiral
Sir Ray Lygo (1924–2012) – naval pilot who joined the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
as a naval rating in 1942 and who reached First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord
in 1978, led a successful career in industry and was Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of British Aerospace
British Aerospace
in the 1980s. Sir George Martin
George Martin
(1926–2016) – record producer for The Beatles. Admiral
Admiral
of the Fleet Sir Ben Bathurst (1936–) – First Sea Lord 1993–95 and the last Royal Navy
Royal Navy
officer to be promoted to five-star rank. Rear- Admiral
Admiral
Sir Robert Woodard KCVO (c.1939–) – naval aviator commanded two Naval Air Squadrons, two warships, a Naval Air Station, the Clyde submarine base and ended his career as the Flag Officer Royal Yachts 1990–95, the only aviator to command the Royal Yacht HMY Britannia. Commander
Commander
Nigel David "Sharkey" Ward (1943-) – commanded 801 Naval Air Squadron during the 1982 Falklands War. Rear- Admiral
Admiral
Iain Henderson (c.1948–) – the first officer, and first naval officer, to hold the modern appointment of Air Officer Commanding 3 Group
3 Group
2000–01. Vice-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
His Excellency
Excellency
Sir Adrian Johns
Adrian Johns
(c.1952–) is the first naval aviator to hold the post of Governor of Gibraltar. Commander
Commander
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
(1960–) – served during the Falklands War
Falklands War
1982 and for some years afterwards. Captain Brian Young (1930-2009) – former Sea Hawk pilot, later commanded the task group for Operation Paraquet
Operation Paraquet
during the Falklands War.

Some 64 naval pilots and 9 observers have reached flag rank in the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
and 4 Royal Marines
Royal Marines
pilots general rank in the Royal Marines. Four of these admirals with pilot's 'wings' were air engineering officers (test pilots) and two were supply officers; two of the non-executive officers reached four-star rank: a supply officer, Admiral
Admiral
Sir Brian Brown (1934–), and a Royal Marine, General Sir Peter Whiteley (1920–).

At least 21 naval Air Engineer Officers (AEOs) have reached flag rank (including the four test pilots (see above)).

See also[edit]

Fleet Requirements and Aircraft Direction Unit List of air stations of the Royal Navy List of Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
aircraft squadrons List of aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm List of active United Kingdom
United Kingdom
military aircraft Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Memorial

References[edit]

^ Military Aircraft:Written question – 225369 (House of Commons Hansard), parliament.uk, March 2015 ^ "Naval Aviation history and the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Origins". fleetairarmarchive.net. Retrieved 8 June 2015.  ^ "Training of Naval Officers at Eastchurch". Flight. III (124): 420. 13 May 1911. Retrieved 8 June 2015.  ^ The Australian Naval Aviation Museum (1998). Flying stations: a story of Australian naval aviation. St Leonards, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-846-8.  ^ "Interwar: Fleet Air Arm". Sea Your History. Retrieved 8 June 2015.  ^ "The History of the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Officers Association, FAAOA". fleetairarmoa.org. Retrieved 8 June 2015.  ^ " Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
squadrons taking part in the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
under RAF Fighter Command". Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Archive 1939-1945. Retrieved 8 June 2015.  ^ Manning, p. 149 ^ Cite error: The named reference World's Air Forces 1989 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ "Naval Strike Wing". royalnavy.mod.uk. Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 24 May 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.  ^ "National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015" (PDF). www.gov.uk. HM Government. November 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2016. Two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy. These will enter service from 2018, transforming the Royal Navy’s ability to project our influence overseas. (p. 30)  ^ Jennings, Garth (4 November 2015). "UK signs for more operational F-35Bs". www.janes.com. IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. 14 September 2016  ^ "809 NAVAL AIR SQUADRON". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Royal Navy. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 809 Naval Air Squadron
809 Naval Air Squadron
(NAS) has been resurrected as the first Royal Navy
Royal Navy
formation to fly the UK’s Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.  ^ Darling, p. 224 ^ " Royal Navy
Royal Navy
monthly situation report" (PDF). 1 December 2013. See table 4a page 18 and table 4b page 20  ^ "New Rear Admiral
Admiral
Fleet Air Arm". The Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Officers' Association. Retrieved 2 July 2015.  ^ Parsons, Gary (29 September 2009). " Royal Navy
Royal Navy
unveils its new King Air". key.aero. Retrieved 8 June 2015.  ^ a b "Naval Air Squadrons". royalnavy.mod.uk.  ^ a b "X-men take to the Cornish skies". Royal Navy. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.  ^ "727 NAS takes on extra training role to pave way for Lightning II stealth fighters". Navy News. Retrieved 18 January 2017.  ^ Stevenson, Beth (20 May 2016). "UK F-35 commander highlights training challenge". Flight Global.  ^ Ricks, Rebecca (28 March 2018). "Submarine Hunting 829 Naval Air Squadron Decommissioned". Forces News. BFBS. Retrieved 30 March 2018.  ^ a b "The Lynx Wildcat evolution". Royal Navy. 23 May 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014.  ^ "Yeovilton is now totally wild as last new helicopter is delivered". Navy News. Navy News. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.  ^ " Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Lynx HMA8 fleet bows out of service". Flight Global. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.  ^ " 847 Naval Air Squadron
847 Naval Air Squadron
– Royal Navy". mod.uk. Retrieved 8 June 2015.  ^ "Merlins receive £269m to convert them into the Navy's 'flying eyes'". Navy News. 16 January 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2018.  ^ "Rear- Admiral
Admiral
'Chico' Roberts". The Daily Telegraph. London: TMG. 5 September 2011. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 

Works cited

Ray Sturtivant & Theo Ballance, The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm, first edition 1994, Air Britain, Kent UK, ISBN 0-85130-223-8.

Bibliography[edit]

Hackett, James, ed. (3 February 2010). The Military Balance 2010. London: Routledge
Routledge
for International Institute for Strategic Studies. ISBN 1-85743-557-5.  Darling, Kev (2009). Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Carrier War: The History of British Naval Aviation. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Aviation. ISBN 978-1-84415-903-1.  Manning, Charles, ed. (2000). Fly Navy: The View From the Cockpit 1945–2000. Barnsley: Leo Cooper. ISBN 085052-732-5. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fleet Air Arm.

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