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Questions

What is the Fleet Air Arm?

Are the pilots of the Fleet Air Arm in the RAF?

What types of helicopter are there? What are their roles?

Why do we need a ship borne aircraft capability?

How many helicopters are on each ship?

Does the Navy have Apache helicopters?

What is the Joint Strike Fighter?

What is the difference between an FA2 (Sea) Harrier and a GR7 Harrier?

Do Harrier aircraft operate from HMS Ocean?

What is the purpose of the Ski Jump at the front of the RN's aircraft carriers?


Question: What is the Fleet Air Arm?


Answer: The Fleet Air Arm is the Royal Navy's "Air Force". It provides air support for all naval operations.


Question: Are the pilots of the Fleet Air Arm in the RAF?

Answer: Except for exchange pilots, they are all either Royal Navy or Royal Marine Officers.


Question: What types of helicopter are there? What are their roles?

Answer: The primary roles are:

Merlin - Anti Submarine Warfare
Sea King - Troop Carrying, Airborne Surveillance and Area Control, SAR
Lynx - Anti Surface and Anti Submarine Warfare.

However, helicopters are versatile and flexible platforms and each helicopter is not restricted to the roles above and can carry out any number of subsidiary roles.


Question: Why do we need a ship borne aircraft capability?


Answer: Ship borne aircraft, with proven availability and inherent sustainability, which are able to conduct multi-role air operations from the sea, either integrated with land based air forces or independently when out of their reach, provide essential political and military options in any emerging situation. See Aircraft Carriers and Future Aircraft Carrier.


Question: How many helicopters are on each ship?


Answer: Frigates and destroyers will carry 1 or 2 helicopters, CVS and Amphibious Assault ships up to about 20 depending on requirements.


Question: Does the Navy have Apache helicopters?

Answer: Trials are currently underway, and subject to these, one Army attack squadron of Apaches will be earmarked to provide support for amphibious operations. The Royal Marines Commando Helicopter Force operate Lynx and Gazelle helicopters.


Question: What is the Joint Strike Fighter?

Answer: This aircraft, currently being developed jointly with the US is the replacement to the Harrier aircraft. It is planned to enter service in 2012 - a date that will coincide with the arrival of the first of the RNs new aircraft carriers. See Joint Strike Fighter.


Question: What is the difference between an FA2 (Sea) Harrier and a GR7 Harrier?

Answer: FA2 harriers used to be flown and operated by the Royal Navy and were  designed primarily as a fighter aircraft that was also capable of ground attack as a secondary role. GR7 harriers are operated by both the RN and RAF, their primary role is ground attack and strike missions and they can operate off the decks of the RN aircraft carriers as part of Joint Force Harrier. The FA2 squadrons were disbanded in March 06 when the Royal Navy started to operate GR7/9 harriers alongside the RAF.

Question: Do Harrier aircraft operate from HMS Ocean?

Answer: In an emergency a Harrier could certainly use its vertical landing capability to land on HMS Ocean. However there are no plans to regularly operate harriers from HMS Ocean.


Question: What is the purpose of the "Ski Jump" at the front of the RN's aircraft carriers?

Answer: The ski jump is an ingenious British invention. It is used by fixed wing aircraft, such as the harrier, to take off in short distances. It helps the aircraft take off by giving it a "push" in an upward direction at the moment of launch.