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815 NAS

815 Naval Air Squadron

815 Naval Air Squadron provides a versatile and adaptable Lynx force to operate anywhere in the world, on any aviation capable ship, to carry out varied operational roles.

Motto - Strike Deep

217 Flight joins FS Surcouf

815 NAS is the dedicated front line squadron for the Lynx helicopter.

The squadron is split into 16 operational flights, each one consists of: One helicopter, two aircrew (one pilot, one observer) and a seven-strong team of engineer technicians.  

Also attached to 815 NAS is Maritime Interdiction (MI) Flight who provides support and assistance to counter terrorism in the UK.  

815 NAS is capable of carrying out multiple roles such as: Counter narcotics, anti piracy, Above Surface Warfare (ASW), SAR, disaster relief and flying and engineering training.  

As with the rest of the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force (LWMF) 815 NAS are based at RNAS Yeovilton.


Alastair Haigh

Alastair Haigh
702 Naval Air Squadron, 22 (Training) Group
Military experience

Born and raised in Yorkshire, Commander Alastair Haigh entered Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1991 as a direct entry graduate after reading Engineering and Management at Durham University.

After flying training he was streamed to the front line as an Anti-Submarine specialist pilot flying the Sea King and joined 820 Naval Air Squadron in September 1995. Highlights of this appointment embarked in HMS Illustrious included operations off Bosnia as well as the global deployment Ocean Wave in 1997.

There followed an appointment as a staff pilot in 810 Naval Air Squadron during which time he qualified as a Squadron Test Pilot and Instrument Rating Instructor before being selected to attend the Qualified Helicopter Instructor (QHI) Course.

As a QHI, he joined the Defence Helicopter Flying School where he gained his A2 instructor status before volunteering for a non-flying appointment as Air Operations Officer in HMS Ocean.

Joining Ocean shortly after 9/11, this appointment was challenging and rewarding in equal measure. With responsibility for planning all aviation activity in the Task Group during Operation Telic, he was promoted to acting Lieutenant Commander shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

With his promotion made substantive in October 2003, Haigh completed the Initial Command and Staff Course (Maritime) then converted to the Maritime Lynx, following which he joined 815 Naval Air Squadron as a Flight Commander.

During an enjoyable appointment in HMS Argyll, he returned to the Gulf region for operations protecting the Iraqi oil infrastructure.

Following this he again volunteered for an out-of-cockpit appointment and joined Navy Command Headquarters as Staff Officer Fleet Air Arm, working direct to Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm.

Besides learning how the HQ functions, he spent two fascinating years being immersed in all aspects of Fleet Air Arm Heritage, a subject that has remained a passion ever since. A particular highlight was the honour of organising the 111th birthday party for Henry Allingham, who was a member of the Royal Naval Air Service during World War 1.

Selected as Senior Pilot of 702 Naval Air Squadron, Haigh returned to the Lynx Force in 2008. At the end of this tour of duty he was selected for both promotion to Commander and to attend the Advanced Command and Staff Course at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham.

Upon graduating with a Master of Arts Degree in Defence Studies, he joined 22 (Training) Group, RAF, at MOD Abbey Wood, a post in which he gained an insight into the intricacies of Defence procurement, with responsibility for the transition of all flying training within the new Military Flying Training System.

Selected for Command in 2012, Haigh took up his current post of Commanding Officer 815 Naval Air Squadron in April 2013.




Royal Navy officers join French flagship’s Gulf deployment
03 March 2014

Four Royal Navy officers have spent the winter with the...

Lynx duet return from global deployments
28 February 2014

Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton has welcomed home not...

Lynx flight back home after seven month deployment
21 February 2014

Flight 206 of 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) have been...

HMS Somerset's Lynx visits Hamstreet Primary School
HMS Somerset's Lynx visits Hamstreet Primary School
20 December 2013

On a dull winter's day over the North Downs, Hamstreet...



Number of Aircraft

14Lynx Helicopters

Number of people rescued

7in SAR ops (2013)

Number of counter narcotics seizures


Maintainers and Aircrew Trained

30in 2013

Average length of Lynx flight Deployment



815 Naval Air Squadron


815 Naval Air Squadron HISTORY

  • Formation

    815 Naval Air Squadron was born as World War 2 began, formed at RNAS Worthy Down on 9th October 1939 with obsolete Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers.

  • The Greatest Victory

    Despite its antiquated aircraft, 815 scored the Fleet Air Arm’s greatest victory, crippling the Italian Fleet at Taranto in November 1940 – for the loss of a single Swordfish. It is a victory celebrated by the squadron to this day.

  • In The Mediterranean

    Flying Swordfish and Fairey Albacores, the squadron continued to support operations in North Africa and Sicily. 815 would later spend some time in the Far East and home waters flying Fairey Barracudas in an anti-submarine role.

  • Cape Matapan

    815 remained a thorn in the Italian Navy’s side, torpedoing the cruiser Pola at the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941, sowing the seeds for the subsequent routing of five enemy ships by the Mediterranean Fleet.

  • Changing Airframes

    Through the 1950s the squadron operated Grumman Avengers and, finally, Fairey Gannets, before it converted to helicopters: the Westland Whirlwind in 1958 and from 1961, the more capable Wessex.

  • Tanzania

    815 took part in operations off East Africa (Tanzania), Indonesia and Aden during the era of the ‘end of Empire’, flying from the carrier, HMS Centaur.

  • Disbanded

    In 1966, the squadron was disbanded, not returning to the Fleet Air Arm fold for another 15 years when it recommissioned at RNAS Yeovilton in 1981 with the Lynx HAS Mk2 as the Headquarters Squadron for embarked Lynx flights.

  • In the Falklands

    It moved to Portland in 1982 and was involved in the Falklands campaign, the Armilla patrol in the Gulf and relief operations off Lebanon, Aden and in the Caribbean.

  • Offensive Operations

    Between August 1990 and February 1991 several flights were involved in offensive operations in the northern Gulf, using their Sea Skua missiles to knock out much of the Iraqi Navy.

  • Battle Honours

    Kuwait 1991

  • Merging

    Parenting of flights was shared with 829 Naval Air Squadron until 1993 when the two merged, making 815 NAS the largest helicopter squadron in the world.

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