THE DAWN OF THE AEW ERA
1952 - 1960
Having been an Avenger bomber squadron during WW2, 849 NAS reformed at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose in 1952 being equipped with ex United States Navy Douglas Skyraider AD4W as an Airborne Early Warning unit. These were operated by detachments assigned to the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers HMS ARK ROYAL, BULWARK, EAGLE, HERMES and VICTORIOUS.
A NEW GENERATION
1959 - 1978
Following the retirement of the Skyraiders in December 1960, 849 flew the Fairey Gannet AEW3 in the same role, operating from HMS EAGLE, ARK ROYAL, CENTAUR, HERMES and VICTORIOUS. Gannet AS4, COD4 and T5s were also operated in supporting roles. The squadron was based at RNAS Brawdy, RNAS Culdrose and at RAF Lossiemouth until the squadron disbanded again on 15 December 1978.
ROTARY WING AEW
1982 - 2018
849 NAS reformed at RNAS Culdrose after the lessons of the 1982 South Atlantic campaign had been learned, on 8 November 1984. Operating the Sea King Mk2 helicopter it was made up of 2 frontline flights (A&B) and the HQ training unit. In 2002 the MK2 was replaced by the MK 7 ASaC, which saw a significant upgrade to the mission system.
On 13 December 2006, A Flight became 854 Squadron and B Flight became 857 Squadron until 2013/2014 when these frontline squadrons were disbanded into 3 frontline flights - Palembang, Okinawa and Normandy. The Sea King MK 7, the last in the UK military, was withdrawn from Service in September 2018 and will be replaced by the Merlin MK2 CROWSNEST aircraft. 849 NAS disbanded for the third time in Apr 2020 and the RN's ASaC capability transferred to 820 NAS.