Fleet Air Arm

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Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm logo.png
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
In CommandRear-Admiral Fleet Air Arm
CurrentRear-Admiral Martin J. Connell: February 2019–Present
Deputy CommanderCommodore, Fleet Air Arm
CurrentCommodore Nicholas M. Walker
Ceremonial HeadCommodore-in-Chief, Fleet Air Arm
CurrentH.R.H. Prince Andrew, Duke of York

The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) was known as the Naval Air Branch (1937–1952) is the air force of the Royal Navy and one of its five fighting arms.[1] It was established in 1924 it had evolved out of the earlier Royal Naval Air Service and is responsible for the delivery of naval air power both from land and at sea. The personnel serving in the FAA are part of the Aviation Branch.

The commanding officer of the Fleet Air Arm is Rear Admiral Martin Connell he is known as the Rear Admiral, Fleet Air Arm who their joint capacity as part of the naval staff at Navy Command they are additionally titled as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation and Carrier Strike).


On 1 April 1918 the Royal Naval Air Service then the air arm of the Royal Navy, under the direction of the Admiralty's Air Department was merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force, the world's first independent air force. At the time of the merger, the Navy's air service had 55,066 officers and men, 2,949 aircraft, 103 airships and 126 coastal stations.

In 1924 the Royal Air Force established an organisational naval aviation unit called the Fleet Air Arm which was then operating the aircraft embarked on RN ships. In 1937 the Royal Navy regained its own air service when the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force (covering carrier borne aircraft, but not the seaplanes and maritime reconnaissance aircraft of Coastal Command) was returned to Admiralty control and renamed the Naval Air Branch, however the Fleet Air Arm did not come under the direct control of the Admiralty until mid-1939.

In May, 1939 the Admiralty established an Naval Air Stations Command to provide land based support for the Fleet Air Arm, that was transferred from the RAF to the Royal Navy. The command was responsible for building, developing and operating naval air stations with different capabilities. It was placed under control and direction of the Rear-Admiral, Naval Air Stations who held overall responsibility for Royal Naval Air Station's and the F.A.A. until April, 1943 when that office holders tile was altered to Flag Officer, Naval Air Stations. During the Second World War, the Fleet Air Arm operated aircraft on ships as well as land-based aircraft that defended the Royal Navy's shore establishments and facilities.

At the onset of the Second World War, the Fleet Air Arm consisted of 20 squadrons with only 232 frontline aircraft, and 191 additional trainers. By the end of the war the strength of the Fleet Air Arm was 59 aircraft carriers, 3,700 aircraft, 72,000 officers and men and 56 Naval air stations. In 1945 the F.A.A. was placed under the command of the Admiral, (Air) until 1947, then the Flag Officer, Air (Home) until 1963. In 1952 the Naval Air Branch was renamed back to its original 1937 name the Fleet Air Arm. In 1963 Naval Air Stations Command was renamed Naval Air Command that became responsible for administering the Fleet Air Arm. In 2010 Naval Air Command was abolished.

The Fleet Air Arm today is a predominantly rotary force, with helicopters deployed on smaller vessels now take over the roles once performed by biplanes such as the Fairey Swordfish.

In Command

Rear-Admiral, Naval Air Stations (1939-1943)

Flag Officer, Naval Air Stations (1943-1945)

Admiral, (Air) (1945-1947)

Flag Officer, Air (Home) (1947-63)

Flag Officer, Naval Air Command (1963-2010)

Rear-Admiral, Fleet Air Arm (2010-current)

Rear-Admiral, Fleet Air Arm
Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Thomas A. Cunningham April 2010 – September 2012 [2]
2 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Russ H. Harding September 2012 – May 2015
3 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Keith Edward Blount May 2015 – February 2019
4 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Martin John Connell February 2019 – current

Commodore, Fleet Air Arm (2019-current)

Commodore, Fleet Air Arm
Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
1 Commodore Commodore command flag RN from 1954.png Nicholas M. Walker February 2019 – current


  1. Navy, Royal. "Organisation/The Fighting Arms/Fleet Air Arm". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Ministry of Defence UK. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  2. "Tom Cunningham Recently retired from Royal Navy". linkedin. Retrieved 10 June 2021.