The Marinefliegerkommando (Naval Aviation Command) is the naval air arm of the German Navy.

Naval Aviation Command
COA MFlgKdo.svg
Insignia of the Marinefliegerkommando
Founded1956; 66 years ago (1956)
CountryGermany Germany
BranchGerman Navy
TypeNaval aviation
Size2,500 personnel
57 aircraft
Part ofGerman Navy
Garrison/HQNordholz Naval Airbase
Kommandeur des MarinefliegerkommandosKapitän zur See Thorsten Bobzin
RoundelRoundel of Germany – Type 1 – Border.svg
Fin flashFlag of Germany.svg
Aircraft flown
AttackSea Lynx Mk 88 A
P-3C Orion
PatrolSea King Mk 41
Sea Lynx Mk 88 A
P-3C Orion
ReconnaissanceP-3C Orion
Dornier 228 LM
TransportSea King Mk 41
Sea Lynx Mk 88 A


During the First World War, naval aviators were part of the Kaiserliche Marine. After the war Germany was no longer allowed to maintain a military aviation capability. Heer and Marine both attempted to nevertheless maintain theoretical and practical knowledge of air warfare through concealed activities such as pilot training efforts.[1] After the National Socialists had risen to power, these activities intensified until Nazi Germany unilaterally declared its withdrawal from armament limitations in 1935. The nascent rump naval air arm was quickly absorbed by Hermann Göring's newly established Luftwaffe, much to the navies chagrin.

However, as a component of the air force, the Seeflieger maintained their organisational structure.[2] A carrier-based aviation component was planned for the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin, laid down in 1936, but lack of suitable aircraft, coupled with the reluctance of the Luftwaffe to support the Kriegsmarine in the carrier's construction, culminated in its eventual cancellation in 1943.

After the Second World War, it was not until West Germany's entry into NATO in the 1950s and the establishment of the Bundesmarine, that a naval aviation force (Marineflieger) was formed.

The United Kingdom was instrumental for the creation of the Marineflieger, supplying training and aircraft. A number of Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) officers operated as part of the German Navy in the process. The first aircraft included Hawker Sea Hawks, which were used by Marinefliegergeschwader 1 and 2, and Fairey Gannets. Until the new bases were ready, pilots were trained with the FAA in the UK.

The first Kommando der Marineflieger was created in July 1956 in Kiel-Holtenau and elevated to divisional level in 1964, renamed to Marinefliegerkommando in 1967 and to Marinefliegerdivision in 1969 as it grew in size. This Naval Aviation Division commanded five wings and several supporting units in total before 1990, including two combat aircraft wings equipped with Lockheed Starfighter fighter aircraft and then the Panavia Tornado. The Fairey Gannet maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) was replaced with the Bréguet Atlantic.

After the Cold War, the unit was renamed to Flotille der Marineflieger in 1994 and reduced to a brigade-level command. Its last combat aircraft were handed over to the German Air Force in 2005 before the flotilla was dissolved on 30 June 2006. Afterwards, the remaining wings were directly assigned to fleet command until 8 October 2012, when the current Marinefliegerkommando was created in Nordholz under Kapitän zur See Andreas Horstmann, who had already been charged with naval aviation at fleet command in Rostock from 2006 to 2009.[3] At the same time the remaining naval aviation aircraft were largely consolidated at Nordholz Naval Airbase.

Subordinate unitsEdit

Apart from the staff, two - the 3rd and 5th - wings are currently assigned to the unit.

Naval Air Wing 3 (MFG 3) "Graf Zeppelin"Edit

The German Navy's fixed-wing aircraft, namely eight Lockheed P-3C Orion MPA taken over from the Dutch Navy and two modified Dornier 228LM pollution control aircraft are assigned to the 3rd wing, Marinefliegergeschader 3 "Graf Zeppelin". The unit is also responsible for handling flight operations in Nordholz. It was established in 1964.

The wings tasks include surveillance and control of large sea areas as well as maritime warfare against targets above (ASuW) and below water (ASW).[4] Pollution control patrols are carried out implementing the MARPOL 73/78 convention on behalf of and in cooperation with German civilian authorities, namely the German coastal states and agencies under the Federal Ministry of Transport, who do not maintain the appropriate aircraft themselves.

The P-3Cs are to be replaced with five P-8 Poseidon MPAs from 2024 on[5] in order to avoid a looming capability gap caused by bringing forward the out-of-service date of the P-3Cs to 2025. A prior attempt to extensively refurbish the aircraft and extend their service time to 2035 was abandoned due to cost and technical issues.[6]

A technical support group (Gruppe) and a flying group, each with two flights (Staffeln) make up the unit along with an airbase group which is responsible for logistics, command infrastructure and air traffic:[7]

  • Staff
    • Flying Group
      • 1st Flight (P-3C)
      • 2nd Flight (P-3C, Do-228LM)
    • Technical Group
      • Technical Flight (P-3C)
      • Technical Flight (general purpose)
    • Air Base Group

Naval Air Wing 5 (MFG 5)TEdit

Marinefliegergeschwader 5 commands the navies rotorcraft fleet of Westland Sea Lynx MK 88 A and Sea King Mk 41 helicopters, tasked with ship-based anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, transport and special forces support duties and is responsible for search and rescue (SAR) duty in the North and Baltic seas. The Sea King fleet is currently transitioning to the NH90 Sea Lion. The NH90 in its Sea Tiger version will also replace the Sea Lynx from 2025 on as the navies frigate-based helicopter.[8]

The unit redeployed in 2012-2013 to Nordholz from Kiel-Holtenau where it had been stationed since its creation in 1958.

  • Staff
    • Flying Group
      • 1st Flight (Sea Lynx Mk 88 A)
      • 2nd Flight (Sea King Mk 41)
      • Instruction Flight
    • Technical Group
      • Technical Flight (Sea Lynx Mk 88 A)
      • Technical Flight (Sea King Mk 41)
      • Technical Instruction Flight


The command had 2,500 personnel on active duty in 2020.[9] As of 2019, it operates 54 aircraft.[10]

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Sea Falcon Sweden UAV ISR 2022 2 on order as a testbed for future UAVs on the corvettes, 8 more planned
Puma AE II United States UAV ISR 2019 6 3 systems with 6 UAVs, dubbed "LARUS" in the German Navy[11]
DJI Phantom 4 China Micro UAV ISR 2017 5 [12]
Dornier 228LM Germany Propeller Pollution control 1991 2 2[13] [10]
Boeing P-8 Poseidon United States Jet MPA 2025 5 on order, replacing Lockheed P-3 Orion from 2025 onwards
Lockheed P-3 Orion United States Propeller MPA 2006 5 8 Formerly of the Royal Netherlands Navy.[10] To be replaced with five Boeing Boeing P-8 Poseidon.
NHI NH90 Sea Lion Europe Rotorcraft SAR/transport 2018 14 14 4 more on order,[14] replacing the Sea King
NHI NH90 Sea Tiger Europe Rotorcraft ASW 2025 31 on order, replacing the Westland Lynx[15]
Westland Sea Lynx Mk 88 A United Kingdom Rotorcraft Attack/SAR/transport 1981 21 21 [16]
Westland Sea King Mk 41 United Kingdom Rotorcraft SAR/transport 1972 19 22 [10]

The Marineflieger previously operated the following aircraft:


See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2019). Eagles Over the Sea: Luftwaffe Maritime Operations 1935–1942. Great Britain: Seaforth Publishing. pp. 15–18. ISBN 978-1-5267-4002-1.
  2. ^ "100 Years of German Naval Aviation". Joint Air Power Competence Centre. 2014-09-14. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  3. ^ "Startschuss für das Marinefliegerkommando in Nordholz". (in German). Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  4. ^ "Naval Aviation Command". Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  5. ^ ES&T editorial team. "P-8A Poseidon ordered from Boeing for the German Navy". Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  6. ^ Manaranche, Martin (2020-06-17). "German MoD Ends P-3C Orion MPA Modernization Program - Seeking Alternative". Naval News. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  7. ^ Seedorf, Mark. "Standortbroschüre Cuxhaven/Nordholz" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 April 2015.
  8. ^ Donald, David. "Germany Orders NH90 Sea Tiger Helicopters". Aviation International News. Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  9. ^ "Marineflieger im Umbruch" (in German).
  10. ^ a b c d "World Air Forces 2019". Flightglobal: 16. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Puma AE für die Marine - FLUG REVUE". Archived from the original on 2020-09-22.
  12. ^[bare URL PDF]
  13. ^ "Die Flugzeugflotte der Bundesmarine - Dornier Do 228-212 | FLUG REVUE". Archived from the original on 2017-06-08.
  14. ^ "German navy warns over continued Sea Tiger helicopter procurement delay". Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  15. ^ Thomas Wiegold (31 July 2019). "Marine soll NH90-Hubschrauber als Ersatz für SeaLynx bekommen (m. Nachtrag)". Augen geradeaus!. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Marine-Hubschrauber müssen am Boden bleiben" (in German). 22 September 2014.

External linksEdit