UK RN Naval Aviation

With maritime patrol and most shore based tasks under the responsibility of the RAF, the key focus of naval aviation in the RN is ship based aircraft. Organized as the Fleet Air Arm (FAA), the roles can then be broken down further into 1) Carrier based, 2) Escort based, 3) Amphibious and 4) Training and support.

Some changes have been made to the squadron organization to accommodate the modifications in the Northern Fury storyline. For instance, three carrier air groups are maintained vice the two historically, this was done using unallocated aircraft which existed, specific cases such as augmenting with RAF Harriers on occasion, and where needed acquiring or converting more airframes then actually existed.

Carrier based Aviation: The three RN aircraft carriers were small and therefore limited in the size of air group they could carry and maintain. Therefore, there were only two airframes normally deployed, the Sea Harrier and the Sea King, although three different models of Sea King were used.

Sea Harrier FA.2 (FRS.2): The famous British Sea Harrier of Falkland Islands fame was the FRS.1, and it was found wanting on many levels. Actual development of the much improved FRS.2 started in 1985 and first flew in '88, deployment however was slow, mostly due to budgetary constraints. Conversion of FRS.1 started in 1995 and completed in 1997 with new build arriving between 1995 and 1998. In Northern Fury, conversion and new build began in 1991 and was completed by the end of 1993. The FRS.2 (or FA.2) have the capability to fire the Aim 120 AMRAAM air to air missile as well as precision strike ground attack munitions. Of the 51 Sea Harriers available, plus seven converted 'T Mark 8' training aircraft, the RN in Northern Furry maintain three operational Harrier squadrons and one training Squadron, with land bases at Cottesmore and Yeovilton.

SqnTaskLocationNoTypeRemarks
800Invincible Cottesmore 12 Harrier FA.2
801Ark Royal Yeovilton 12 Harrier FA.2
802Illustrious Cottesmore 12 Harrier FA.2
899Training Yeovilton 12 Harrier FA.2+7 T.8
NA Warstock Yeovilton 3 Harrier FA.2

Note, the FRS.2 was re-designated FA.2 in the mid '90s, changing from 'Fighter, Reconnaissance, Strike' to simply 'Fighter Attack'. In Northern Fury the FA.2 designation is used.

Sea King (HAS.6, AEW.2, HAR.3, HC.4): The other routine member of the carrier air group is the Westland Sea King. Usually there are a total of 10 on board including: Six Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) versions, the HAS.6 (Helicopter Anti-Submarine Mark 6); two Airborne Early Warning (AEW) versions, the AEW.2A, and two Search and Rescue (SAR) versions, the HAR.3 (Helicopter Air Rescue Mark 3). These come form a variety of squadrons and are the workhorses of the fleet.

The fourth version of the Sea King in use with the RN was the Cargo/Troop carrying version used for Amphibious operations. In total there were 146 Sea Kings in the RN broken down by type as follows:

  • 76x HAS.6
  • 10x AEW.2A
  • 35x HC.4
  • 19x HAR.3
  • 6x HAR.3A (new build)

The only changes due to Northern Fury is some minor reorganization and the early purchase of 6x HAR.3A for shore based SAR. Squadron dispositions are:

SqnTaskLocationNoTypeRemarks
22A Shore Based SAR Chivenor 2 Sea King HAR.3
22B Shore Based SAR Wattisham 2 Sea King HAR.3
22C Shore Based SAR Valley 2 Sea King HAR.3
202AShore Based SAR Boulmer 2 Sea King HAR.3A
202BShore Based SAR Lossiemouth2 Sea King HAR.3A
202CShore Based SAR Leconfield 2 Sea King HAR.3A
706 Training Culdrose 12 Sea King HAS.6
707 Training Yeovilton 12 Sea King HC.4
771 HQ Training Culdrose 2 Sea King HAR.3
771BArk Royal Culdrose 2 Sea King HAR.3
771AInvincible Culdrose 2 Sea King HAR.3
772 HQ Training Portland 2 Sea King HAR.3
772AIllustrius Portland 2 Sea King HAR.3
772BRFA's Portland 2 Sea King HAR.3
Warstock Culdrose 1 Sea King HAR.3
810 Training Culdrose 12 Sea King HAS.6
814 Ark Royal Culdrose 6 Sea King HAS.6
819 ASW Holding unit Prestwick 12 Sea King HAS.6
820 Illustrius Prestwick 6 Sea King HAS.6
824 Invincible Prestwick 6 Sea King HAS.6 New Sqn
826 RFA's Prestwick 6 Sea King HAS.6
Warstock Culdrose 16 Sea King HAS.6
845 LPDs Yeovilton 8 Sea King HC.4
846 LSLs/RFA's Yeovilton 8 Sea King HC.4
Warstock Yeovilton 7 Sea King HC.4
849 HQ & Trg Culdrose 3 Sea King AEW.2A
849AInvincible Culdrose 2 Sea King AEW.2A
849BIllustrious Culdrose 2 Sea King AEW.2A
849CArk Royal Culdrose 2 Sea King AEW.2A New Flt
Warstock Culdrose 1 Sea King AEW.2A

Escort Based Aviation: All Destroyers and Frigates in the fleet are equipped with a single type of ASW aircraft, the Westland Lynx. This is a very capable ASW platform used by the RN, the Germany Navy, the French Navy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and many non-NATO countries. The RN has largely upgraded to the HAS.3 versions which is capable of Anti-Surface as well as Transport and ASW tasks, although there are still some HAS.2 remaining on older ships. Additionally, in service HAS.3's are being upgraded to HMA.8's or Super Lynx with larger engines, new avionics and better sensors. At the start of Northern Fury there are 12x HAS.2 on the older Leander Frigates, 77x HAS.3 and HAS.3GM (with additional radios for the Gulf War), and 18 HMA.8's. One additional Sqn has been added in Northern Fury but the overall numbers are only increased by the retention of the older HAS.2 in order to equip the older FF which were retained.

SqnTaskLocationNoTypeRemarks
702 Training Portland18Lynx HAS.3/GMA.8
815 Surface DD & FFPortland24Lynx HAS.3/GMA.8
825 Surface DD & FFPortland24Lynx HAS.3/.3GM New Sqn
847 Surface DD & FFPortland24Lynx HAS.2/.3GM
Warstock Portland17

Amphibious Forces Aviation: Beside the Sea King HC.4's discussed earlier, the key equipment for use by the Royal Marines in amphibious operations was the Westland Gazelle AH.1. These 12 Gazelle were operated by the Army Air Corps (AAC) 3 Command Brigade Air Squadron (CBAS) which also operates six Lynx AH.1 in support of 3 Commando Brigade. These helicopters would be embarked on amphibious ships based on the requirements of the amphibious operation, depending on the situation not all would be embarked but in theory the AAC could provide more if the threat demanded it. The other main use for the Gazelle was basic helicopter training for all other helicopter types.

SqnTaskLocationNoTypeRemarks
705 Flight training Culdrose 30 Gazelle HT.2
3 CBAS Cdo Bde Air Sqn Yeovilton12 Gazelle AH.1 AAC
3 CBAS Cdo Bde Air Sqn Yeovilton6 Lynx AH.1 AAC

Training and support: The RN fielded a full suite of training squadrons to bring pilots from the very basic level in the Chipmunk, through basic jet training in the Hawk (see RAF) and basic helicopter training in the Gazelle, and finally training on the type the pilot would be assigned to. Training did not end there as all units conducted refresher and qualification training.

For support the RN had a small fleet of executive jets and small aircraft for transporting personnel and to and from operational deployments or evacuating medical casualties.