The Royal Navy 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), the dedicated maritime helicopter squadron of HMS Queen Elizabeth, is making its final preparations to embark onto the carrier for the autumn and winter of 2018.
Soon the whole squadron – aircrew, engineers and support personnel – will join the ship and sail with her across the Atlantic for the next stage of her sea trials. The 820 NAS “The Flying Fish” is flying arguably the best submarine hunting helicopter in the world, the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM.2 and will be protecting HMS Queen Elizabeth from threats on and below the surface of the sea.
The most important stage of the trails will be involving fixed-wing aircraft, the highlight of which will be F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets touching down on the carrier deck for the first time.
The 820 Naval Air Squadron will also provide Search and Rescue (SA) cover – a vital maritime role as soon as flying operations increase from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier.
The squadron is based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall and continues to carry out exercises aboard Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels, as well as participating in military operations.
820 NAS also conduct other missions, like: anti-piracy operations off Somalia (2012); humanitarian aid and nation support (the fight against Ebola – Sierra Leone – 2014/15) or; provide maritime surveillance to keep our seas safe for shipping (Op Kipion – Middle East – 2014/16).