I have today laid before Parliament a Departmental Minute describing a gift which the Ministry of Defence (MOD) intends to make to the Fly Navy Heritage Trust Limited.
Since 1960, the Royal Navy has operated a collection of MOD-owned historically important naval heritage aircraft with the Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF). Five military-registered aircraft formed part of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, all of which have been maintained at some expense on the military register by the MOD. In January 2018 it was determined that, to allow greater freedoms in operation at reduced cost to MOD, the Royal Navy Historic Flight should be disbanded, with its aircraft transferred to a civilian owner operator.
The gift comprises four of the former Royal Navy Historic Flight aircraft:
- a Swordfish (W5856) torpedo bomber aircraft, famous for Taranto and operations throughout World War II.
- a Sea Fury (VR930), famous for operations in Korea and the only propeller aircraft to have shot down a jet.
- a Sea Hawk (WV908), a pioneering carrier jet aircraft and the first Hawker aircraft company jet.
- a Chipmunk (WK608) is required to transfer with the heritage aircraft on the basis that it provides pilot continuity and generates income.
- their associated spares and support equipment.
The total value of this gift is in the region of £1,810,000.
The future of a fifth aircraft, Swordfish (LS326), is currently under consideration.
The RNHF has been supported in its activity by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust, a charity operating under the umbrella of ‘Navy Wings’, that has promoted the culture and heritage conservation of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm since its formation in the early Nineties. The Trust has provided significant financial support to the renovation, repair and maintenance of the MOD-owned heritage aircraft, whilst also operating their own naval heritage aircraft in direct support of Naval Service engagement aims alongside the Royal Navy Historic Flight aircraft or when Royal Navy aircraft are unavailable.
The gifting of four of the former Royal Navy Historic Flight aircraft to the Fly Navy Heritage Trust will allow these historically important aircraft to continue to be used in support of commemorative and educational aims in support of the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm for many years to come.
The transfer of ownership is expected to be undertaken over the coming weeks, subject to completion of the Departmental Minute process.