|THE OTHER FLEET AIR ARM HUNTER SQUADRONS...|
|No. 899 Navy Air Squadron (899NAS) Hunter service
Six years after the disbandment of the Fleet Air Arm’s last Hunter Squadron, the aircraft made a comeback in 1978. A decision was reached between the Royal Navy and British Aerospace to convert two T.8 Hunters to T.8M standard, to assist in training the new generation of Fleet Air Arm Sea Harrier pilots These aircraft would have the Ferranti Blue Fox radar, standard equipment on the Sea Harrier. This was fitted in a similarly shaped radome mounting on the nose, and half the cockpit would also have instrumentation that mirrored the cockpit layout of the Sea Harrier.
The first Hunter T.8M, XL602 was first flown in January 1979, and was flown to British Aerospace’s Dunsfold airfield for trials, where it remained until it’s retirement in 1995.
XL580 and XL603 remained in service until 899 NAS received its full compliment of F/A2 Sea Harriers in 1994. Declared surplus to requirements the two airframes were passed onto FRADU (Fleet Requirements and Air Directional Unit), who placed them in open store on the base, thus bringing to an end, the Hunter’s second ‘life’ as a Fleet Air Arm aircraft.
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