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744 NAS Commissioning

Published: 19 Oct 2018

On the 24 Oct 18, 744 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) will once again reform and take up active service after a period of 62 years dormant; the Sqn was last active up until 31 Oct 1956.


744 NAS was originally formed at RNAS Lee-on-Solent on the 10 Feb 1943, however the Sqn soon departed to Canada as a training unit, and was consequently re-designated to 754 Sqn in June 1944. In Mar 1944, a new 744 Sqn was formed at Maydown as a Merchant Aircraft Carrier training unit, to supply crews to 836 NAS. The Sqn undertook Anti-Submarine training until it moved to RNAS Eglinton in Oct of 1945.  Soon after it transformed into the front line 815 Sqn on 1 Dec 1947.  In Jul 1951 It reformed from a flight of 737 Sqn, again at Eglinton, but this time into a fixed wing development and trials unit.  From Dec 1952 it flew Dragonfly HR3s for the exacting and demanding role of Search and Rescue until the unit again disbanded on 1 Mar 1954. On the same day, It reformed at RNAS Culdrose as a fixed wing anti-submarine development unit and moved in Oct 1954 to RAF St.Mawgan, where it again disbanded on 31 Oct 1956.


Mission Systems and Armament Test and Evaluation Sqn (MS & Arm TES), a fundamental part of the RAF Air Warfare Centre, will commission as 744 NAS and continue the rich history and tradition of Test and Evaluation which runs through the latter periods of 744 NAS’ history.  On the 24 Oct 18 the Sqn will hold a commissioning ceremony at MoD Boscombe Down, with the Head of the Fleet Air Arm in attendance, Rear Admiral Keith Blount CB OBE FRAeS.


MS & Arm TES, a tri service unit, commanded by Commander Jonathan Bird RN, currently comprises of 15 highly skilled Test and Evaluation Aircrew and Engineers.  His staff predominantly have either undertaken the extremely desirable and demanding Masters Level Aero-Systems Course, run by the AWC, or the Evaluator Aircrew Course, which is delivered by the Empire Test Pilots School.


CO MS & Arm TES, Cdr Bird said, “It is a huge privilege to be the Commanding Officer of the Mission Systems and Armament Squadron, which brings together the operational experience from the majority of Defence’s frontline 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 as 744 Naval Air Squadron, exactly 62 years to the day that the last CO744NAS flew his final Squadron sortie before the Squadron was disbanded at RAF St Mawgan”.


744 NAS has a long background in T & E with a superb Moto of “Nemo solus satis sapit” which translates to “No one or man knows enough”, the choice of Sqn number plate could not have been better.


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