The British Royal Navy has re-commissioned the 744 Naval Air Squadron after 62 years to test advanced weapons and sensors to strengthen the country’s air defences.

The squadron will work to introduce the Crowsnest Merlin airborne surveillance and control helicopter to the Royal Navy’s frontline service over the next 18 months.

In addition, the new unit will be responsible for bringing the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) upgraded and modernised Chinook Mk5 and Mk6 helicopters to the frontline service.

At the end of October 1956, the squadron was disbanded at RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall, where it supported the development of anti-submarine warfare tactics for two years.

“The 744 Squadron brings together the operational experience from the majority of defence’s frontline aircraft types and weaponry.”

Reformed Squadron first commanding officer commander Jonathan Bird said: “744 Squadron 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, exactly 62 years to the day that the previous commanding officer flew his final squadron sortie before the unit was disbanded at RAF St Mawgan.”

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Working under the motto ‘nemo solus satis sapit’, which means no one individual knows enough on their own, 744 Naval Air Squadron is based at Boscombe Down on Salisbury Plain, south-west England. It comprises 15 aircrew and aviation engineers selected from the three UK military services.

The Royal Navy is set to receive ten equipment kits with a combined worth of £269m to upgrade some of its 30 Merlin HM2 aircraft under the Crowsnest project.