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01/10/2010
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Merlin EH101 from 814 NAS on HMS Illustrious
Lynx Helicopter in the Belize Jungle
Harrier's flypast carrier

The Fleet Air Arm is the Royal Navy's air force. It numbers some 6200 people, which is 11.5% of the total Royal Naval strength, operating about 200 combat aircraft and over 50 support/training aircraft. Its helicopters and fixed wing aircraft provide the Royal Navy with a multi-role airborne combat capability able to operate independently at short notice, in all environments, day and night, over the sea and land.

When not embarked, the aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm are based at one of 3 establishments:

RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, which supports:

  • Lynx Mk8 helicopters
    The Commando Helicopter Force (Sea King Mk4/6 and Lynx Mk7)

RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, which supports:

RAF Cottesmore in Rutland, which supports:

There remains a search and rescue unit at Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire - HMS Gannet search and rescue flight. Additionally Specialist air engineering training is undertaken at HMS Sultan  at Gosport in Hampshire.

Additionally there are a small number of Lynx Mk7 helicopters which work with 3 Commando Brigade . The Navy also has 'floating airfields' in the form of the Invincible class aircraft carriers which operate Harrier GR7, Sea King and Merlin aircraft and the commando helicopter carrier HMS Ocean operating Sea King and Lynx helicopters and the Albion Class Ships (LPD's) operating Sea King and Merlin.