Fleet Air Arm

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The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters, as well as the Harrier GR7/GR9. Helicopters such as the Lynx and Westland Wasp have been deployed on smaller vessels since 1964, taking over the roles once performed by biplanes such as the Fairey Swordfish.

Contents

History

Beginnings

British naval flying started in 1909, with the construction of an airship for naval duties.[2] In 1911 the Royal Navy graduated its first aeroplane pilots at the Royal Aero Club flying ground at Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey under the tutelage of pioneer aviator George Bertram Cockburn,[3] but in May 1912 naval and army aviation were combined to become the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The Naval Wing of the RFC lasted until July 1914 when the Royal Navy reformed its air branch, under the Air Department of the Admiralty[citation needed], naming it the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS).[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 main 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.

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