744 Naval Air Squadron will be instrumental in introducing the Crowsnest Merlin to front-line service over the next 18 months, say the Royal Navy.
In addition, they will also work with the RAF’s upgraded Chinook Mk5s and Mk6s.
The Royal Navy say that it’s the squadron’s later role in testing, evaluation and development which was prompted its 21st Century rebirth under the motto ‘nemo solus satis sapit’ – no one individual knows enough on their own.
The re-formed squadron’s first Commanding Officer Commander Jonathan Bird said 744 Squadron “brings together the operational experience from the majority of defence’s front-line aircraft types and weaponry, to ensure that new aircraft, weapons and upgrades to existing platforms are safe and as fit for purpose as possible.”
“It is an even bigger privilege to be at the helm when the squadron re-commissions – exactly 62 years to the day that the previous commanding officer flew his final squadron sortie before the unit was disbanded at RAF St Mawgan.”
In 2017, Lockheed Martin was awarded a £269m contract to deliver the Royal Navy’s Crowsnest Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) programme.
As the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin is responsible for the overall design and development of Crowsnest, which will provide a vital surveillance capability to support the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.
Crowsnest uses a high power radar to provide long-range air, maritime and land tracking capabilities that will ensure early detection of potential threats for the fleet.
This capability will be role fitted onto the Merlin Mk2 helicopters and deployed in support of various Royal Navy vessels including the fleet flagships HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Crowsnest incorporates an updated version of a Thales Searchwater radar and Cerberus Mission System which are deployed as role fit kits along with the Merlin Mk2 helicopters. This will allow the Royal Navy to adjust the configuration of the airframe depending on the mission.