744 Naval Air Squadron

Re-formed in late 2018 after more than 60 years, 744 NAS continues the rich history of test and evaluation which runs through the squadron’s more recent incarnations.

744 Naval Air Squadron

744 Naval Air Squadron sits as part of the Air and Space Warfare Centre predominantly based out of MoD Boscombe Down and forms part of the Air Test and Evaluation Centre. The squadron draws on the best aircrew and engineers from the three Services, working side-by-side with civilian experts to test and evaluate helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and new weapons, sensors and avionics fitted to them.

Its focus since its rebirth has been the development of the Crowsnest Airborne Surveillance and Control variant of the Merlin and its integration into the Carrier Strike Group to both provide early warning of aerial threats to the force – and to help direct F-35B Lightning stealth fighters to intercept their targets.

Another key focus of the squadron has been the FASGW (Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapons) programme for the Wildcat helicopter – the lighter Martlet missile and the heavier Sea Venom.

744 is also heavily involved in the Merlin Mid-Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) through which the squadron aims to continuously improve the Navy’s principal anti-submarine and commando-carrying helicopter.

744 NAS aims to bring together operational experiences from the majority of the Forces’ front-line aircraft types and weaponry, to ensure that new aircraft, weapons and upgrades to existing platforms are safe and fit for purpose.

In an eclectic history going back to mid World War 2, the squadron has pioneered helicopter search and rescue duties with Dragonflies between 1952 and 1954, trained aircrew in anti-submarine warfare at RNAS Eglinton in Northern Ireland, provided fliers for wartime Merchant Aircraft Carriers (tankers/cargo ships which doubled up as small carriers on convoy duties), and fed the front-line Fleet Air Arm with trained personnel, first out of Lee-on-the-Solent, then while based in Canada.

Facts & figures


Facts & figures

Tri Service Aircrew & Engineers
Avionics, Mission Systems and Weapon Integration
Test and Evaluation

Our skills


Our skills

  • Combat Air – Provides support to Future Combat Air System, Tempest and Typhoon development activities.  Working with industry, DSTL and Defence on the development and exploitation of cutting-edge UK technologies.  

  • Maritime Team – Provides support to Merlin Mk2 in the ASW / CROWSNEST role fit, support to Merlin Mk4 / 4A and additional T&E programmes.

  • Strike Team – Provides support to Wildcat HMA2 / AH1 T&E programmes.

  • Weapons Integration Team – Provides support to various weapons integration programmes including Typhoon, Apache and Wildcat.


  • Modelling and Simulation – Developing a complete Modelling and Simulation strategy for pan-defence programmes, the initial Air and Space Warfare Centre focus being T&E of Electronic Warfare, Combat Air and weapons.

Our operations

Our base

Our base

Boscombe Down

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Commanding Officer

Commander Bradley Watson

744 Naval Air Squadron's role

744 Naval Air Squadron tests and evaluates new and existing aircraft, systems, sensors and weaponry to ensure front-line units in all three Services gets the best out of their air power.