Aeroplane Database: The BAe Sea Harrier in service

The aircraft that defined an era of front-line Fleet Air Arm operations — not least in the Falklands

To ensure a rapid build up of experience of operating each major new aircraft type, the Royal Navy has traditionally formed an Intensive Flying Trials Unit (IFTU), designated 700 Naval Air Squadron with a letter suffix. In the case of the Sea Harrier, this was 700A NAS, which commissioned at Yeovilton on 26 June 1979 under the command of Lt Cdr Nigel ‘Sharkey’ Ward. Its first aircraft, XZ451, was delivered from Dunsfold two days earlier. The significance of the ‘A’ suffix to the squadron number is oft debated; the navy may already have been through the alphabet from A to Z, or it could be an example of naval humour —L for Lynx, P for Phantom and A for ’arrier.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below