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|Birth name||Nigel David MacCartan-Ward|
|Years of service||1962–1989|
|Unit||Fleet Air Arm|
|Commands held||801 Naval Air Squadron|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross|
Air Force Cross
After basic flying training he completed his training with the Fleet Air Arm on the Hawker Hunter and Sea Vixen. He then joined 892 Naval Air Squadron and flew the F-4K Phantom from HMS Ark Royal, where he qualified as an Air Warfare Instructor. He then worked as a nuclear planning officer at NATO Allied Forces Northern Europe. In 1979, he took command of the Sea Harrier FRS.1 Intensive Flying Trials Unit at 700 Naval Air Squadron. Ward featured in an episode of Pebble Mill at One that year when he landed a Sea Harrier in a sports field next to the Pebble Mill Studios.
As commanding officer of 801 Squadron, Ward had to prepare the Sea Harrier for action in the South Atlantic. Aircraft and pilots were borrowed from the conversion unit, 899 Naval Air Squadron, and with a strength of eight aircraft they embarked in HMS Invincible on 4 April 1982.
Ward, flying Sea Harrier XZ451/006, was one of three aircraft launched to carry out a combat air patrol at the northern end of the Falkland Sound. Two Pucaras operating from Goose Green were seen by controllers on HMS Brilliant and the three Sea Harriers were vectored towards them. One of the Pucaras was attacked by the first two Sea Harriers but evaded, and Ward made a passing cannon attack on Major Carlos Tomba's aircraft and damaged the port aileron. After slowing down and turning behind the Pucara, Ward hit the starboard engine, and in a third run he hit the canopy and upper fuselage. Tomba ejected from the Pucara at low-level before the aircraft crashed north-west of Drone Hill, Tomba was unhurt and walked back to Goose Green.
Later the same day Ward, in Sea Harrier ZA175, and another aircraft were carrying out a low-level combat air patrol. Three Argentine Air Force Mirage V "Dagger"s had attacked Brilliant and the two Sea Harriers were vectored to intercept them. In a turning fight, the three Daggers were destroyed with Ward's wingman, Lieutenant Steve Thomas, accounting for two and Ward for one, all with Sidewinder missiles. The three Dagger pilots, Major Piuma, Captain Donadille and Lieutenant Senn, ejected safely.
Ward, in Sea Harrier XZ451, and another aircraft were just returning to Invincible after a combat air patrol when they were sent to check a target seen on radar 20 miles north of the ship. They found a four-engined Lockheed C-130 Hercules at 200 feet above the sea. Ward's first AIM-9L Sidewinder missile fell short of the C-130, but the second started a fire between the inner and outer port engines. Ward then fired 240 rounds from his Harrier's two ADEN cannons and this action broke off the wing of the enemy aircraft, sending it crashing into the sea and killing the seven crew members.
Ward flew over sixty war missions, achieved three air-to-air kills, and took part in or witnessed a total of ten kills; he was also the leading night pilot, and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry.
After retiring from the Royal Navy in 1989 Ward wrote the book Sea Harrier Over the Falklands: A Maverick at War, first published in 1992. In 2001, he returned to the RNAS Yeovilton to fly with his son Kris, after the younger Ward qualified to fly the Sea Harrier FA2. His son died 15 November 2018, aged 45.