On October 13, ZP802 ‘City of Elgin’ was the first of the submarine-hunting aircraft to land at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
On October 14, ZP801 ‘Pride of Moray’ touched down on the resurfaced runway, with ZP803 ‘Terence Bulloch’ following less than two hours later as the third member of the fleet, having been flown directly from the US on its delivery flight.
The trio will be based in a £100-million strategic facility designed and built by Boeing Defence UK and local construction partner Robertson, and which was delivered by DE&S to the RAF at the end of September.
Nine Poseidon have been ordered from Boeing, the first of which – ‘Pride of Moray’ –landed on British soil at Kinloss Airfield in February. Since then, crews from CXX Squadron have been securing the seas around the UK on operational missions.
54 Squadron have also been training new pilots and weapons systems operators on the platform, as 400 additional military personnel will be joining Team Lossie in Moray to fly and operate the nine aircraft.
The next two RAF Poseidons have been painted at Boeing’s Renton site in the US and are currently located at the P-8 Installation and Checkout facility in Tukwila, south of Seattle, where mission systems are installed, and further testing will take place before delivery. All nine of the fleet, based on the Next-Generation 737, are expected to be in the UK by the end of 2021.
About the UK’s Poseidon MRA1 MPA
Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon is a multi-role maritime patrol aircraft, equipped with sensors and weapons systems for anti-submarine warfare, as well as surveillance and search and rescue missions.
The P-8A’s comprehensive mission system features an APY-10 radar with modes for high-resolution mapping, an acoustic sensor system, including passive and multi-static sonobuoys, electro-optical/IR turret and electronic support measures (ESM). This equipment delivers comprehensive search and tracking capability, while the aircraft’s weapons system includes torpedoes for engaging sub-surface targets.
Boeing delivered the 100th P-8A aircraft in mid-May. This was the 94th mission-capable airplane to enter the U.S. Navy fleet, with six additional jets used as Engineering Manufacturing Development test aircraft. The 100th fully-operational delivery is scheduled for later this year. Boeing has also delivered 12 jets to the Royal Australian Air Force, two to the U.K.’s Royal Air Force and eight P-8Is to the Indian Navy. Norway will begin receiving their five P-8As in 2022; both New Zealand and South Korea have signed agreements with the U.S. Navy to purchase four and six aircraft respectively.
The BAE Systems Nimrod MRA.Mk 4 upgrade of existing Nimrod MR.Mk 2 airframes had been underway for some years when it was axed under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The MR.Mk 2 was also withdrawn, leaving the UK without effective long-range, fixed-wing maritime cover. Project Seedcorn saw personnel posted into maritime patrol units with allied air arms, maintaining vital skills until the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed the intended purchase of nine Poseidons for the RAF.
With the P-8 squadron numbers chosen, the type will operate from RAF Lossiemouth, where infrastructure is being prepared for its arrival around 2020. The aircraft will be equipped with US weapons, although British weapons may be integrated in future.
Poseidon MRA1 specifications
- Powerplant: two 27,000lb st (120kN) CFM International CFM56-7 turbofan engines
- Length: 129ft 6in (39.47m)
- Height: 42ft 1¼in (12.83m)
- Wingspan: 123ft 7¼in (37.64m)
- Maximum take-off weight: 189,200lb (85,820kg)
- Maximum speed: 490kt (907km/h)
- Ferry range: 4,500 miles (7,242km)
- Service ceiling: 41,000ft