A Royal Air Force crew has flown a Royal Air Force P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft for the first time.

Mark Faulds, the aircrafts pilots, told the UK Defence Journal “it flew beautifully!”.

Earlier in the year, 54 Squadron received their first P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

The aircraft, ZP801, has been formally handed over to the Royal Air Force. The aircraft will be based at RAF Lossiemouth. This comes not long after the second Royal Air Force P-8 took to the air for the first time.

Rendering of a British P-8.

Speaking before the event, a Royal Air Force spokesperson said:

“The team from 54 Squadron have received ZP801, which will fly to Naval Air Station Jacksonville tomorrow to be formally handed over to the Royal Air Force. It will then be maintained by engineers from Poseidon Line Squadron, enabling our pilots and weapons systems operators on CXX Squadron to continue their training prior to the long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to the UK in February!”

The Poseidon is based on the Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, the supply chain for which is already supported by UK industry, providing several hundred direct UK jobs.

NOTE: The ‘MAD’ boom is not fitted to US or UK variants.

UK manufacturers also provide specialist sub-systems for the P-8A, for example Marshalls (auxiliary fuel tanks), Martin Baker (crew seats), GE (Weapon Pylons) and GKN Aerospace (windshields).

A P-8 in British livery, courtesy of the MoD.

The UK is buying 9 of the aircraft in total, however, evidence submitted to the Defence Select Committee argues that seven additional P-8 Poseidon aircraft should be acquired, bringing the total fleet to 16 aircraft.

The first aircraft will arrive in the UK in February 2020.

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Will
Will
9 months ago

The procurement of these has gone very quickly, I think it won’t be too impossible for the RAF to add on 1 or 2 more orders if the manpower and money is available.

And before anyone says it yes I know we need 16 (or more) but I am just being realistic as to what we might get in the near future.

Steve R
Steve R
9 months ago
Reply to  Will

It says 16, but yeah, being realistic about government spending on defence I’d be happy if we got 12.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Cor! Yes I’d be delighted with any increase. Not unrealistic at all.

While the initial procurement has gone quickly as Will says, the overall procurement of 9, over a decade I believe? Not so quick!

geoff
geoff
9 months ago

We had spent close to 4 Billion pounds on Nimrod at the time it was cancelled and the airframes broken up for scrap…

Cam
Cam
9 months ago
Reply to  geoff

That will haunt me until the day I die! The machine operators must not have been British millitary fans! I couldn’t rip them apart. I would rather them restored and sent to museums around the globe, once they are gone that’s it forever!

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
9 months ago
Reply to  Cam

One of the things HMG has been consistently good at down the years is the rapid and complete destruction of cancelled projects.

Expat
Expat
9 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Bottom line was we’d chosen the wrong airframe. We should have chosen an in production airframe then productionised it for export like the A330 MRTT

geoff
geoff
9 months ago
Reply to  Expat

Indeed Expat-the originals dated back almost seventy years-sons of those that sadly broke up and plunged into the Mediterranean in the 1950’s. A cruel twist of fate from which the British Civil aviation industry never really recovered and at the same time the Americans produced the 707, a truly ground-breaking aircraft.

Expat
Expat
9 months ago
Reply to  geoff

I think the Comet itself was ground breaking and sometime the price you pay for being at the cutting edge. But even without its problems we would have always ended up part of a bigger international programme long term. Its a shame BAe didn’t see the benefit of buying the Bombardier C Series to get back into Civil aviation. Airbus did and snapped it up. But as for the MoD they need to have one eye on commercialising investments, hopefully with T26 and T31 we’ve started down that road, but pick area which are less crowded like MPA give a… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
9 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Nimrod MR4 was a vastly expensive mistake that never should have been made.

A classic example of penny pinching attempts to save money going wrong and costing more money ultimately. If we had just build new Nimrods from scratch instead we could have a fleet of 12-18 flying right now, having not had a 10-year capability gap.

Rob
Rob
9 months ago

I’m looking forward to seeing these in action. I fear those of us hoping for additional orders will be disappointed. There are just too many constraints on the budget, just look at the problems with the T23 LIFEX as an example of unexpected costs. Well unexpected by those who thought it wise to extend them beyond their designed lifetime anyway. Lancaster has needed extensive steel inserts into her hull and Iron Duke is still waiting for her work to begin. She is apparently in far worse state. Add to that the T45 PIP work has been delayed due to cost.… Read more »

Cam
Cam
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Yeah I agree, I can’t see any more orders sadly! Our government is all about small numbers these days! 6 destroyers, 8 asw frigates, 5 gp frigates, 7 Astutes, 9 Poseidon’s, 22 challenger tanks, joking lol but we will only have 22 left soon no doubt.

Rob
Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Cam

5 Wedgetails, 38 Apaches too!

I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up with 22 Challengers TBH.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Add a 1 to that 22 and you might be in the right area.

To be honest if the British Army insists on carrying through its plans to reduce to just 2 Armoured Regiments why would we need more?

Peter E
Peter E
9 months ago

It all depends on where the force structure lands after 2020. In default of a big fat funding windfall (unlikely from any party) I can see the Army having to choose which of Armoured or Medium Mech it actually wants to do properly. Given the advantages of being able to self deploy across the road network that debate is only going one way. If I were a betting man I would therefore expect us to settle on 3 strike brigades (including Boxer APC, IFV, and 155 SPG), able to generate 1 Brigade at high readiness or deploy as a Division… Read more »

PAcman27
PAcman27
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter E

I also saw a really interesting article on the XM360 120mm gun that I believe can be added to a boxer (or challenger) The US did a prototype and it looks as if we could have something punchy on a boxer or even a challenger It’s 50% the weight of the current challenger turret as well. Not an expert on these things, was looking into why CTA and Bofors cant produce a single system for the UKs land and naval asset when I came across this It looks like it could solve a number of issues for the UK As… Read more »

Cam
Cam
9 months ago

Daniele Shouldn’t we keep more than we need anyway for battle damage and reserves ect.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Cam

Totally Cam.

That idea seems to be fading given how few reserve assets there are with new kit.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
9 months ago

It seems to me that the idea that we might have to fight a war of national survival again has dropped out of the national consciousness. Whilst that might be true for the short and possibly even the medium term, I would not be so sure of the long term.

I can foresee a Russo / Chinese alliance developing in the future if Russia continues on it’s present course.

If that was to happen I wonder if Chinese troops based west of the Ural mountains would get NATO / UK’s attention?

PAcman27
PAcman27
9 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Part of war is attrition, and we need to ensure we have the ability to manufacture replacements as quickly as they are lost, if not faster to scale up.

Without that we are unlikely to succeed

Cam
Cam
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I hope we do get 50 Apaches Rob that’s almost one Apache for very 4 tanks.

Rob
Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Cam

IMO we should be buying double that, the unit price of the last order was peanuts is comparison to what we spent on our existing air-frames. Coupled with a genuine all wheeled and heavily armed strike brigade then it all starts to make more sense.

Helions
Helions
9 months ago
Reply to  Cam

At least the MoD is thinking ahead on Astute replacements / additional SSN – probably in the large volume category if it’s to be based on the Dreadnought class…

https://www.forbes.com/sites/hisutton/2019/12/08/new-intelligence-on-the-secretive-next-generation-british-attack-submarine-ssnr/#3a7dfdb7107c

Cheers

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Hi Rob One of my pet hates – life’s Warrior life’s costs more than a new Ajax. Challenger almost certain to go the same way. Merlin upgrades cost more than a brand new Merlin. The list goes on Wasn’t aware of T23 issues, but hardly surprising given their age and heavy usage, if that is the case they should just decommission and crack on with T26 and T31 builds. We can get them in the water quicker if needed I am sure. Unfortunately, once we do this we never get the replacement. Really just a set of very poor behaviours… Read more »

Helions
Helions
9 months ago

As a maritime dependent nation, the UK probably needs double of what’s on order. With the ASM being developed right now that will be compatible with the P8, it could also serve as Britain’s version of the BUFF in terms of being a (very effective) stand-off missile truck. Two roles filled for the price of one…

Cheers

TwinTiger
TwinTiger
9 months ago
Reply to  Helions

I agree entirely. The P-8A already has certification for the AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER standoff missile, but would benefit from certification of the newer and longer range AGN-158 JASSM-ER. P-8As in a stand-off operation would however require assistance from satellite target positioning/verification.

Rob
Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Helions

Under what circumstances would it be considered OK to fire a stand off missile?

Certainly not in the Channel, doubtful in the North Sea or Irish Sea. So we are talking way off the north coast of Scotland and the North Atlantic really. Anywhere else and its too risky vs shipping and oil rigs.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have them but any heavy AShM is of limited utility really. Sinking ships that far from our coast should be the job of an SSN. Not that we have many of those!

Steve R
Steve R
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Though something to consider is cost. At around £95million per P8 compared to £1.4billion per Astute SSN, we could have a dozen extra P8s for the cost of one more Astute and still have change enough to buy some extra Apaches. With regards to subs I’ve started really warming to the idea of diesel-electric subs for the RN – say a class of 6 to supplement the 7 Astutes. Could be done for relatively cheap. Range would be shorter but they could be useful for any roles in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, Persian Gulf etc. We would even forward-base one… Read more »

Peter E
Peter E
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

The issue with submarines is actually the critical mass of the nuclear enterprise in the UK as a whole. With civil nuclear looking decidedly uncertain the overall national skills base looks set to decline still further from its current precarious position. As such any move towards DE Attack Subs risks making the SSBN fleet operationally unaffordable.

Steve R
Steve R
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter E

Not to mention cost.

For the price of a single Astute we could have any one of the following:

– 15 x F35b
– 1 x Type 26 frigate plus change for some more helicopters
– 5 x Type 31 frigates (if they really do remain at £250million per ship) plus 5 Wildcat helicopters to go with them.
– At least 12 Typhoons
– 40 new Apaches
– 330 Challenger 2 MBTs

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

It’s a seductive list.

You have to add the costs of operating that lot, crew, spares, basing, and all the rest.

I still believe on the SSN!

Steve R
Steve R
9 months ago

There are the extra costs associated with those other items I listed, but on the flip side of that, they would all increase the size and capability of our armed forces. Okay, a single squadron of Typhoons may not make much difference but an extra squadron of F35 would allow us to put more planes on the carriers so we can use them to their full potential. An extra 5 T31s would boost hull numbers significantly, which is what we all want in the Navy. Problem with an Astute is that it can only be in one place at a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Steve, I’d bite the hand off for any one of those extras to be fair.

Herodotus
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Is that right Steve….that Typhoons cost more than F35b!

Steve R
Steve R
9 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Think I did a miscalculation there sorry! You’re right. Typhoon is cheaper per airframe. Converting to GBP, Typhoon is £75million per airframe and F35 is £71million per airframe, so not a lot of difference there.

So with that recalculated the price of the single Astute would buy 18 Typhoons, plus approx £50million change. So 18 Typhoons, an Apache and 3 Challenger 2s.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Out of that lot it is a toss up between the 5 T31 with Wildcat or the 40 Apaches.

Simon m
Simon m
9 months ago

We’re not counting manning or yearly costs then?! 🙂 And the fact that none of the services are exactly awash with manpower! It is a nice list I agree. An more Apaches are tempting. But a myriad of different capabilities are needed for a supposedly “Global power” and SSNs are one of those. It also depends on how you work the cost of an astute out? If it is simply an average you’ve got to bear in mind due to loss of skills etc. HMS Astute’s cost and the first batch will be much more expensive than follow on subs.… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Just thinking P-8 with AShM operating from Gib, Cyprus, Ascension, Falklands, UAE would be within hours of a very large area of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. And able to provide extra deterrence for a Type 31 ‘patrol frigate’, should it come up against a more heavily armed adverssry and no Astute be on hand.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 months ago
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Quicker delivery schedule than I understood?

Welcome, but I thought we had read here reports it would take a decade to get the 9 in service?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 months ago

We live in hope Daniele!

TopBoy
TopBoy
9 months ago

Finally the replacement for Nimrod.
To think we have been without this key capability for nearly a decade!

OldSchool
OldSchool
9 months ago

Good to see the UK’s P8 force progressing.
Regarding the Chally etc. I spoke to an armoured officer years back who had looked at tank replacements for an allied country. His recommendation ( overruled) was for the Merkerva. An excellent tank that is easy to maintain and importantly he said to manufacture with a modest industrial base – probably a no-brainer to be honest.

steve
steve
9 months ago

Withh the number of 73 ng in civilian service, upon which this aircraft is based, and the high turnover of them with the low cost airlines, I could see our government purchasing them and converting them, along the lines of the VC10/ tristar aircraft in service. Well it would support uk industry, and the 73 is a staple part of the maintainence programmes in the uk, just saying…