First RNR Officer in 57 years to command a new Naval Air Squadron
An Air Branch Royal Naval Reservist is the first RNR Officer in 57 years to command a New Naval Air Squadron that is keeping a watchful eye over the Fleet on Operations.
Lieutenant Commander Alan Rogers RNR has become the Commanding Officer of 700X NAS, which formed at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose as the Fleet Air Arm's latest venture with pilotless airborne hardware, the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle.
“This is a fantastic job", said Al Rogers. "It's the Fleet Air Arm’s latest step into the world of remotely piloted air systems and we are looking to develop our tactics and embrace this new technology ensuring the Royal Navy remains a world leader in aviation at sea – whether manned or unmanned.”
Al himself is no stranger to working with remotely controlled flying systems and was Officer in Charge of the Fleet Target Group as well as Commanding Officer of 792 NAS which took over the targeting role in 2001. A qualified Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Pilot operating the Mirach 100/5 Aerial Target, he achieved in excess of 100 launches from a range of Type42 Destroyers, Type 22 Frigates and Royal Fleet Auxiliary flight decks in support of the Navy’s Sea Dart missile firings, in addition to RAF Tornado and Typhoon AMRAAM and ASRAAM missile validation, and in-service serials, on the Hebrides Island ranges.
De-commissioning 792 NAS in Jun 2009 on the handover of the responsibility of target provision to QinetiQ, Al retired from the Royal Navy in 2011 after 37 years service. But the Navy hadn’t finished with him yet and after a short time in the commercial market, he was approached by Navy Command Headquarters to consider a return to active service within the RNR Air Branch. His role was to advise on the embarked aspects of UAS standard operating procedures necessary to fulfil an operational requirement for Ships operating in the Gulf.
Over a lengthy and distinguished career Al has come a long way since joining the Royal Navy as a Junior Electrical Mechanic (AIR) at HMS Ganges in Jan 1974. He completed basic and trade training before serving at RNAS Portland where he worked onWessex, Sea King and Wasp helicopters as well as embarked Flights with HMS’s Nubian,London,Auroraand the Britannia Flight atDartmouth. Progressing through the ranks to CPOAEM, he was selected to join the SD(AV) Branch and commissioned in 1989.
As an Aviation Support Officer he has held positions across the Fleet Air Arm on land and at Sea, finally serving on HMS Ocean as the Flight Deck Officer (FDO) before beginning his adventures into the world of Unmanned Aircraft in 2001.
As the founding Commanding Officer of 700X NAS he is currently serving on a Full Time Reserve Service contract which could potentially see him serve until 2017.