Boeing AH-64 Apache
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target night vision systems, it is armed with a 30 mm M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft's forward fuselage, four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons for carrying armament and stores a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 has significant systems redundancy to improve combat survivability; the Apache began as the Model 77 developed by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra. The prototype YAH-64 was first flown on 30 September 1975; the U. S. Army selected the YAH-64 over the Bell YAH-63 in 1976, approved full production in 1982. After purchasing Hughes Helicopters in 1984, McDonnell Douglas continued AH-64 production and development; the helicopter was introduced to U.
S. Army service in April 1986; the advanced AH-64D Apache Longbow was delivered to the Army in March 1997. Production has been continued by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, with over 2,000 AH-64s being produced by 2013; the U. S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64, it has become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Israel, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates. It is produced under license in the United Kingdom as the AgustaWestland Apache. American AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in the Gaza Strip. British and Dutch Apaches have seen deployments in wars in Iraq. Following the cancellation of the AH-56 Cheyenne in 1972, in favor of projects like the U. S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II and the Marine Corps Harrier, the United States Army sought an aircraft to fill an anti-armor attack role that would still be under Army command; the 1948 Key West Agreement forbade the Army from owning combat fixed-wing aircraft.
The Army wanted an aircraft better than the AH-1 Cobra in firepower and range. It would have the maneuverability for terrain following nap-of-the-earth flying. To this end, the U. S. Army issued a Request For Proposals for an Advanced Attack Helicopter on 15 November 1972; as a sign of the importance of this project, in September 1973 the Army designated its five most important projects as the "Big Five", with the AAH included. Proposals were submitted by Bell, Boeing Vertol/Grumman team, Hughes and Sikorsky. In July 1973, the U. S. Department of Defense selected Hughes Aircraft's Toolco Aircraft Division; this began the phase 1 of the competition. Each company went through a flight test program. Hughes' Model 77/YAH-64A prototype first flew on 30 September 1975, while Bell's Model 409/YAH-63A prototype first flew on 1 October 1975. After evaluating the test results, the Army selected Hughes' YAH-64A over Bell's YAH-63A in 1976. Reasons for selecting the YAH-64A included its more damage tolerant four-blade main rotor and the instability of the YAH-63's tricycle landing gear arrangement.
The AH-64A entered phase 2 of the AAH program under which three pre-production AH-64s would be built, the two YAH-64A flight prototypes and the ground test unit were upgraded to the same standard. Weapons and sensor systems were integrated and tested during this time, including the laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missile. Development of the Hellfire missile had begun in 1974 known by the name of Helicopter Launched and Forget Missile, for the purpose of arming helicopter platforms with an effective anti-tank missile. In 1981, three pre-production AH-64As were handed over to the U. S. Army for Operational Test II; the Army testing was successful, but afterward it was decided to upgrade to the more powerful T700-GE-701 version of engine, rated at 1,690 shp. The AH-64 was named the Apache in late 1981, following the tradition of naming Army helicopters after American Indian tribes, it was approved for full-scale production in 1982. In 1983, the first production helicopter was rolled out at Hughes Helicopter's facility at Mesa, Arizona.
Hughes Helicopters was purchased by McDonnell Douglas for $470 million in 1984. The helicopter unit became part of The Boeing Company with the merger of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas in August 1997. In 1986, the incremental or flyaway cost for the AH-64A was $7M and the average unit cost was $13.9M based on total costs. During the 1980s, McDonnell Douglas studied an AH-64B, featuring an updated cockpit, new fire control system and other upgrades. In 1988, funding was approved for a multi-stage upgrade program to improve sensor and weapon systems. Technological advance led to the program's cancellation in favor of more ambitious changes. In August 1990, development of the AH-64D Apache Longbow was approved by the Defense Acquisition Board; the first AH-64D prototype flew on 15 April 1992. Prototype testing ended in April 1995. During testing, six AH-64D helicopters were pitted against a bigger group of AH-64As; the results demonstrated the AH-64D to have a sevenfold increase in survivability and fourfold increase in lethality compared to the AH-64A.
On 13 October 1995, full-scale production was approved. On 17 March 1997, the first production AH-64D flew, it was delivered on 31 March. Portions of the Apache are produced by other aerospace firms. AgustaWestland has produced number of components for the Ap
A military helicopter is a helicopter, either built or converted for use by military forces. A military helicopter's mission is a function of its conversion; the most common use of military helicopters is transport of troops, but transport helicopters can be modified or converted to perform other missions such as combat search and rescue, medical evacuation, airborne command post, or armed with weapons for attacking ground targets. Specialized military helicopters are intended to conduct specific missions. Examples of specialized military helicopters are attack helicopters, observation helicopters and anti-submarine warfare helicopters. Military helicopters play an integral part in the sea and air operations of modern militaries. Manufacturers will develop airframes in different weight/size classes which can be adapted to different roles through the installation of mission specific equipment. To minimise development costs the basic airframes can be stretched and shortened, be updated with new engines and electronics and have the entire mechanical and flight systems mated to new fuselages to create new aircraft.
For example, the UH-1 has given rise to a number of derivatives through stretching and re-engining, including the AH-1. Modern helicopters have introduced modular systems which allow the same airframe to be configured for different roles, for example the EH-101 in Royal Navy service can be configured for ASW or transport missions in hours. To at the same time retain flexibility and limit costs, it is possible to fit an airframe for but not with a system, for example in the US Army's AH-64D variants are all fitted to be able to take the Longbow radar system, but not enough sets have been bought to equip the whole force; the systems can be fitted to only those airframes that need it, or when finances allow the purchase of enough units. Most military helicopters are armoured to some extent however all equipment is limited to the installed power and lift capability and the limits installed equipment places on useful payload; the most extensive armour is placed around the pilots, engines and fuel tanks.
Fuel lines, control cables and power to the tail rotor may be shrouded by Kevlar armour. The most armoured helicopters are attack and special forces helicopters. In transport helicopters the crew compartment may or may not be armoured, a compromise being to give the passengers Kevlar lined seats but to leave the compartment for the most part unarmoured. Survivability is enhanced by the placement of components to protect each other. For example, the Blackhawk family of helicopters uses two engines and can continue to fly on only one, the engines are separated by the transmission and placed so that if attacked from any one flank, the engine on that flank acts to protect the transmission and the engine on the other side from damage. Aviation electronics, or avionics, such as communication radios and navigation aids are common on most military helicopters. Specialized avionics, such as electronic countermeasures and identification friend or foe systems, are military specific systems that can be installed on military helicopters.
Other payload or mission systems are installed either permanently or temporarily, based on specific mission requirements. Armour, fire suppression and electronics systems enhancements are invisible to casual inspection, as a cost-cutting measure some nations and services have been tempted to use what are commercial helicopters for military purposes. For example, it has been reported that the PRC is carrying out a rapid enlargement of its assault helicopter regiments with the civilian version of the Mil Mi-17; these helicopters without armour and electronic counter measures will function well enough for training exercises and photo opportunities but would be suicidal to deploy in the assault role in actual combat situations. The intention of China appears to be to retrofit these helicopters with locally produced electronics and armour when possible, freeing available funds to allow rapid creation of enough regiments to equip each of its Group Armies, allowing a widespread buildup of experience in helicopter operations.
Attack helicopters are helicopters used in the close air support roles. The first of the modern attack helicopters was the Vietnam era AH-1 Cobra, which pioneered the now classic format of pilot and weapons officer seated in tandem in a narrow fuselage, chin mounted guns, rockets and missiles mounted on stub wings. To enable them to find and identify their targets, some modern attack helicopters are equipped with capable sensors such as a millimeter wave radar system. Attack helicopters Transport helicopters are used for transporting personnel and cargo in support of military operations. In larger militaries, these helicopters are purpose-built for military operations, but commercially available aircraft are used; the benefit of using helicopters for these operations is that personnel and cargo can be moved to and from locations without requiring a runway for takeoffs and landings. Cargo is carried either internally, or externally by slung load where the load is suspended from an attachment point underneath the aircraft.
Personnel are loaded and unloaded while the helicopter is on the ground. However, when the terrain restricts helicopters from landing, personnel may be picked up and dropped off using specialized devices, such as rescue hoists or special rope lines, while the aircraft hovers overhead. Air assault is
The Britten-Norman Defender is a multi-role utility transport aircraft, manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom. It is the military version of the Britten-Norman Islander, developed for roles such as utility transport, casualty evacuation, counter-insurgency and light attack, forward air control and reconnaissance. First flown in May 1970, the Defender was based on the civilian Islander, has a larger airframe with four underwing hardpoints for pylons to attach 2,500 pounds of fuel tanks, missiles, 7.62-mm machine-gun pods, rocket pods, flares and other stores. The BN-2B and BN-2T are used in military and police operations in several countries; the BN-2T-4S Defender 4000 is an enhanced version of the BN-2T Defender intended for the aerial surveillance role. Compared to earlier Defenders, it has a stretched fuselage, the enlarged wing from the Trislander, a new nose structure capable of accommodating a FLIR turret or radar, an increased payload; the prototype Defender 4000 first flew in 1994.
The Mauritanian Air Force employed six BN-2A-21 Defenders in the Western Sahara War against POLISARIO forces in 1976, losing two of them in action. A Rhodesian Air Force Alouette III, configured as a gunship or'K-Car', shot down a Botswana Defence Force Air Wing Islander on 9 August 1979; the FBI deployed one Defender for electronic aerial surveillance on the Branch Davidians' compound during the siege of Waco in 1993. In 1996, the Royal Cambodian Air Force deployed its three BN-2 Defenders in support of the dry season offensive against Khmer Rouge insurgents; the Defenders were armed with machine guns and rockets, dropped mortar rounds. One Defender was lost during the operation. In 2003, the British Army bought four Defender 4000 aircraft, known in service as the Defender AL1, fitted with under-wing defensive aids dispensers and an electro-optical turret under the nose. Since one other has been converted to Defender AL2 specification and three more Defender AL2s and one Defender T3 trainer have been ordered.
They have been employed in the command and communication role with limited use in transporting personnel. The Irish Air Corps bought one Defender 4000 in 1997, it is operated by the Garda Air Support Unit. In 2014 the Philippine Navy sent one of its Defenders to assist a multinational search and rescue party led by the government of Malaysia in search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. In August 2017, in an attempt to calm a gang war in Copenhagen, the Danish police force used at least one of the Danish National Guard's two Defenders to fly reconnaissance missions over the city. Defender Multi-role utility transport aircraft. Maritime Defender Armed maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Defender 4000 Enhanced Defender for the urban surveillance, counter-terrorism and maritime surveillance roles. AEW Defender Airborne Early Warning aircraft Denmark Home Guard 2 x BN-2B IrelandGarda Air Support Unit – 1 × Defender 4000. MauritiusNational Coast Guard of Mauritius 1 x BN-2T Morocco Royal Moroccan Navy 14 x BN-2B PakistanMaritime Security Agency PhilippinesPhilippine Navy 6 x BN-2 United Kingdom British Army Army Air Corps Greater Manchester Police - Withdrawn in 2015 Police Service of Northern Ireland United StatesFederal Bureau of Investigation Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004General characteristics Crew: 2 Capacity: Up to 16 troops in transport role Length: 12.20 m Wingspan: 16.15 m Height: 4.36 m Wing area: 16.15 m2 Aspect ratio: 8.0:1 Airfoil: NACA 23012 Empty weight: 2,223 kg Max takeoff weight: 3,856 kg Fuel capacity: 1,131 L Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce 250 B17F turboprops, 300 kW eachPerformance Maximum speed: 326 km/h.
Jane's All the World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2537-3. Defender BN2T-4S operated by Irish Air Corps for Gardai
AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat
The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter designed to serve in the battlefield utility and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles. In British service, common variants are being operated by both the Royal Navy and British Army, having replaced their Lynx Mk.7/8/9 predecessors. The AW159 has been offered to several export customers, has been ordered by the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy. In 1995, the British Government announced that the Royal Navy's existing Westland Lynx helicopters were to be replaced. Despite this stated intent, Westland Helicopters continued to hold talks with the Ministry of Defence to find a future role for the type during the late 1990s. In 2002, the Future Lynx project originated in two studies to determine the suitability of a derivative of the Super Lynx 300 to replace the existing Lynx helicopters of the Royal Navy and British Army; these requirements were known as the Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft and Battlefield Light Utility Helicopter programmes, respectively.
In July 2002, AgustaWestland received a contract to conduct a formal assessment phase of the Future Lynx. On 22 July 2002, a collaboration agreement was signed between AgustaWestland and Thales Group, under which Thales was assigned development responsibility for the programme's core avionics, including communications and flight management electronics. By April 2003, the in-service dates for the BLUH and SCMR programmes were reported as being April 2007 and April 2008 respectively. Early on, AgustaWestland elected to adopt a glass cockpit incorporating electronics upgrades from the AgustaWestland AW101 along with various airframe improvements, such as a redesigned tail rotor and nose, as well as an increased use of machined components over fabricated counterparts, for the Future Lynx. By July 2004, the option of upgrading and remanufacturing the first generation Lynx had been judged to be uneconomical, the BLUH programme of building a new generation airframe had been given prominence instead.
In late 2004, the National Audit Office criticised the UK's existing helicopter fleet as being insufficient. The BLUH was deemed unaffordable, it was speculated that a more modest sensor fit could be used, as well as the procurement of alternative platforms such as the NHIndustries NH90, Eurocopter EC120, or Eurocopter EC635 instead of the Future Lynx; the utility transport aspect of the BLUH requirement was de-emphasised and the programme renamed Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter. In early 2005, the MOD was deliberating on whether to launch an open competition for other companies to bid to meet the BRH requirement, or to sole-source the contract from AgustaWestland to proceed with the Future Lynx. In late March 2005, the MOD confirmed the Future Lynx as being its preferred option for its rotorcraft renewal programme, was expected to place a non-competitive contract with AgustaWestland that year; the signing of the contract was delayed to the following year, this was in part due to preparation and release of the 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy, which supported the selection of the Future Lynx.
On 22 June 2006, the MOD awarded AgustaWestland a £1 billion contract for 70 Future Lynx helicopters as a commitment under the Strategic Partnering Arrangement with AgustaWestland. The programme envisaged providing the British Army with 40 aircraft and Royal Navy with 30, with an option for a further 10, split between Army and Navy. By late 2007, the Future Lynx was scheduled to enter service with the British Army and Royal Navy in 2014 and 2015 respectively. In 2008, the cancellation of the Future Lynx programme has been under consideration. In December 2008, the MOD announced that the main contract would be proceeding, only incurring a minor cut in numbers set to be procured, for a total of 62 rotorcraft. In October 2007, following the passing of an interim critical design review, the Future Lynx programme proceeded to the manufacturing phase. In September 2008, the powerplant selected for the Future Lynx, the LHTEC CTS800-4N, received European Aviation Safety Agency type certification, enabling production deliveries to commence.
In November 2008, GKN delivered the first complete airframe to AgustaWestland. On 24 April 2009, it was announced that the Future Lynx had been designated AW159 by AgustaWestland, would be known in British military service as the Wildcat. On 12 November 2009, the first Lynx Wildcat conducted the type's maiden flight from AgustaWestland's facility in Yeovil, Somerset. On 14 October 2010, the second AW159 performed its first flight. In July 2009, it was announced. In December 2011, it was reported that four additional Wildcats had been ordered for use by British special forces; these are to be joined by four fro
Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma
The Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma is a four-bladed, twin-engined medium transport/utility helicopter. The Puma was built by Sud Aviation of France, continued to be made by Aérospatiale, it was license-built in Romania as the IAR 330. The Puma was a commercial success and was developed into more advanced models such as the AS332 Super Puma and AS532 Cougar, manufactured by Eurocopter since the early 1990s; these descendants of the Puma remain in production in the 21st century. The Puma has seen combat in a range of theatres by a number of different operators; the type saw popular use in the civilian field and has been operated by a number of civil operators. The SA 330 Puma was developed by Sud Aviation to meet a requirement of the French Army for a medium-sized all-weather helicopter capable of carrying up to 20 soldiers as well as various cargo-carrying duties; the choice was made to develop a new design for the helicopter, work began in 1963 with backing from the French government. The first of two Puma prototypes flew on 15 April 1965.
The first production SA 330 Puma flew in September 1968, with deliveries to the French Army starting in early 1969. In 1967, the Puma was selected by the Royal Air Force, it was given the designation Puma HC Mk 1. A significant joint manufacturing agreement was between Aerospatiale and Westland Helicopters of the UK. Under this agreement, Westland manufactured a range of components for the Puma; the SA 330 was a success on the export market, numerous countries purchased military variants of the Puma to serve in their armed forces. Throughout most of the 1970s, the SA 330 Puma was the best selling transport helicopter being produced in Europe. By July 1978, over 50 Pumas had been delivered to civil customers, the worldwide fleet had accumulated in excess of 500,000 operational hours. Romania entered into an arrangement with Aerospatiale to produce the Puma under license as the IAR 330, manufacturing at least 163 of the type for the Romanian armed forces, civil operators, several export customers of their own.
Indonesia undertook domestic manufacturing of the SA 330. South Africa, a keen user of the type, performed their own major modification and production program conducted by the government-owned Atlas Aircraft to upgrade their own Pumas, the resulting aircraft was named Oryx. In the 1990s, Denel would develop an attack helicopter for the South African Air Force based on the Puma, known as the Denel Rooivalk. In 1974, Aerospatiale began development of improved Puma variants, aiming to produce a successor to the type; the first prototype AS332 Super Puma took flight on 13 September 1978, featuring more powerful engines and a more aerodynamically-efficient extended fuselage. Production of the SA 330 Puma by Aérospatiale ceased in 1987, by which time a total of 697 had been sold; the SA 330 Puma is a twin-engine helicopter intended for personnel transport and logistic support duties. As a troop carrier, up to 16 soldiers can be seated on foldable seats. Civilian Pumas feature a variety of passenger cabin layouts, including those intended for VIP services.
In a search and rescue capacity, a hoist is installed mounted on the starboard fuselage. A pair of roof-mounted Turbomeca Turmo turboshaft engines power the Puma's four-blade main rotor; the helicopter's rotors are driven at a speed of 265 rpm via a five reduction stage transmission. The design of the transmission featured several unique and uncommon innovations for the time, such as single-part manufacturing of the rotor shaft and the anti-vibration measures integrated into the main gearbox and main rotor blades; the Puma featured an automatic blade inspection system, which guarded against and alerted crews to fatigue cracking in the rotor blades. There are two hydraulic systems on board, these operate independent of one another, one system powers only the aircraft's flight controls while the other serves the autopilot, rotor brake, the flight controls. In flight, the Puma was designed to be capable of high speeds, exhibit great maneuverability, have good hot-and-high performance; the cockpit has conventional dual controls for a pilot and copilot, a third seat is provided in the cockpit for a reserve crew member or commander.
The Puma features a SFIM-Newmark Type 127 electro-hydraulic autopilot.
Afghanistan the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which experiences cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, while the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get hot in summers. Kabul serves as its largest city. Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia; the land has been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Muslim Arabs, British and since 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries. It has been called "unconquerable" and nicknamed the "graveyard of empires"; the land served as the source from which the Kushans, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Khaljis, Hotaks and others have risen to form major empires.
The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire, its border with British India, the Durand Line, was formed in 1893 but it is not recognized by the Afghan government and it has led to strained relations with Pakistan since the latter's independence in 1947. Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919 the country was free of foreign influence becoming a monarchy under King Amanullah, until 50 years when Zahir Shah was overthrown and a republic was established. In 1978, after a second coup Afghanistan first became a socialist state and a Soviet Union protectorate; this evoked the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s against mujahideen rebels. By 1996 most of Afghanistan was captured by the Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban, who ruled most of the country as a totalitarian regime for over five years.
The Taliban were forcibly removed by the NATO-led coalition, a new democratically-elected government political structure was formed, but they still control a significant portion of the country. Afghanistan is a unitary presidential Islamic republic with a population of 31 million composed of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks, it is a member of the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Non-Aligned Movement. Afghanistan's economy is the world's 108th largest, with a GDP of $64.08 billion. The name Afghānistān is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, documented in the 10th-century geography book Hudud ul-'alam; the root name "Afghan" was used in reference to a member of the ethnic Pashtuns, the suffix "-stan" means "place of" in Persian. Therefore, Afghanistan translates to land of the Afghans or, more in a historical sense, to land of the Pashtuns. However, the modern Constitution of Afghanistan states that "he word Afghan shall apply to every citizen of Afghanistan."
Excavations of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree and others suggest that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, that farming communities in the area were among the earliest in the world. An important site of early historical activities, many believe that Afghanistan compares to Egypt in terms of the historical value of its archaeological sites; the country sits at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, the Islamic Empire. Many empires and kingdoms have risen to power in Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Samanids, Ghurids, Kartids, Timurids and the Hotak and Durrani dynasties that marked the political origins of the modern state.
Archaeological exploration done in the 20th century suggests that the geographical area of Afghanistan has been connected by culture and trade with its neighbors to the east and north. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Iron ages have been found in Afghanistan. Urban civilization is believed to have begun as early as 3000 BCE, the early city of Mundigak may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization. More recent findings established that the Indus Valley Civilisation stretched up towards modern-day Afghanistan, making the ancient civilisation today part of Pakistan and India. In more detail, it extended from what today is northwest Pakistan to northwest India and northeast Afghanistan. An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai in northern Afghanistan. There are several smaller IVC colonies to be found in Afghanistan as well. After 2000 BCE, successive waves of semi-nomadic
RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron)
Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, or RNAS Yeovilton, is an airfield of the Royal Navy and British Army, sited a few miles north of Yeovil, Somerset. It is one of two active Fleet Air Arm bases and is home to the Royal Navy Wildcat HMA2 and Army Air Corps Wildcat AH1 helicopters as well as the Royal Navy's Commando Helicopter Force Merlin HCi3/3A/4 and Wildcat AH1 helicopters; the site consists of 1,000 acres of airfield sites plus minor estates. Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton is a large multi-role air station with an annual budget of some £61 million; the airfield is home to the Fleet Air Arm Museum and the station hosts an annual Air Day in July. In 1938, the potential of the land at Yeovilton for use as an airfield was spotted by Westland Aircraft's chief test pilot Harald Penrose and an offer was made to buy the land; the owners, however – the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of the Church of England – refused to sell it. In 1939, the Admiralty Air Division commandeered 417 acres of the land and work began on the construction of the site.
The runways being completed in 1941 despite problems with poor drainage. A main runway of 3,645 ft and three subsidiary runways each of 3,000 ft had been constructed. 750 Naval Air Squadron was formed at RNAS Ford on 24 May 1939 from the Royal Navy Observer School, but after Ford was bombed early in the war, it moved to RNAS Yeovilton. They were joined by 752 Squadrons with the Naval Air Fighter School soon following. In addition Westland Aircraft developed a repair facility at the site. From July 1940, the site was subjected to Luftwaffe bombing on several occasions. 794 Naval Air Squadron was the first to be formed at the base and served to train other squadrons to practise aerial gunnery, part of one of the runways was marked up as a flight deck to practise landing on an aircraft carrier. 827 Naval Air Squadron was stationed at Yeovilton operating Fairey Albacores and Barracudas starting in May 1943, becoming the first squadron to receive Barracudas in any substantial number. Several units which were preparing for embarkation were stationed at the site during the Second World War.
Because of pressure on space at the airfield, satellite sites were set up at Charlton Horethorne and Henstridge in 1942. A centre for Air Direction Radar was established at Speckington Manor on the edge of the airfield. After the end of the war, Yeovilton became one of the main demobilization centres for the Royal Navy, with many of the men helping to refurbish the runways while they stayed at the base. In 1952, Yeovilton became the shore base for the fleets all-weather fighters; the runways were further extended by Taylor Woodrow in 1957 to cope with jet aircraft. In May 1953, it became the headquarters of Flag Officer Flying Training. During the 1960s, further development work was undertaken, with the School of Fighter Direction returning to the site and the Sea Venoms being replaced by the de Havilland Sea Vixens in turn by the McDonnell-Douglas Phantom FG1 as a carrier-borne fighter; the 1970s saw Naval Air Command, transferring from RNAS Lee-on-Solent. Royal Navy fixed wing operations were phased out, the Phantoms transferred to the RAF.
The base remained as the home of the Commando Helicopter Squadrons, using the Wessex HU5 and the Sea King HC4, the fixed wing Fleet Requirements and Aircraft Direction Unit and became the main shore base for the Navy's fleet of Sea Harrier FRS1. A ski-jump was installed to enable practice of ski-jump assisted take-offs. In the mid 1980s Defence Estates announced that many of the Royal Navy ratings married quarters at RNAS Yeovilton were surplus to requirements; as a result, The Welbeck Estate Group acquired in the nearby town of Ilchester two entire estates of apartments in Hermes Place and Lyster Close that were used by personnel at HMS Heron. These were sold to local buyers. Since 1993 the Fleet Air Arm’s Memorial Church has been the Church of St Bartholomew in Yeovilton.800 Naval Air Squadron, 801 Naval Air Squadron and 899 Naval Air Squadron which operated the BAE Sea Harrier FA2 and T8 were disbanded in 2006. The replacement Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will be operated from RAF Marham and is due to enter service in 2018, when it will equip the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
In July 2006, Sea King HC4 helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton were deployed to Cyprus on Operation Highbrow to assist with the evacuation of British citizens from Lebanon. Following the closure of RNAS Portland in 1999, HMS Heron became the main shore base for the Lynx fleet; the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010 recommended that in order to replace the Navy's ageing Westland Sea King HC4's which formed the Commando Helicopter Force at Yeovilton, the RAF's AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin fleet should be transferred to the Royal Navy's. To gain experience of operating and maintaining the Merlin, Royal Navy aircrew and engineers were integrated into the Merlin Force at RAF Benson during 2012; the Merlin fleet was handed over to the navy during a ceremony at Benson on 30 September 2014. The ceremony marked the disbandment of the RAF's No. 78 Squadron and its replacement at Benson with 846 Naval Air Squadron. During July 2015, 845 Naval Air Squadron reformed at Benson and replaced No. 28 Squadron of the RAF which disbanded.
The Merlin arrived at Yeovilton when 846 NAS moved from Benson on 26 March 2015. In May of that year, 848 Naval Air Squadron temporarily stood up with the remaining Sea King HC4 to cover the last remaining Sea King operations, before the Sea King HC4 was retired and the squadron decommissioned o