The UK’s first new P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft has landed in Scotland, closing a capability gap that emerged when Nimrod was scrapped in 2010.

The first P-8 for the UK, nicknamed the ‘Pride of Moray’, arrived at Kinloss Barracks in Scotland earlier today.

The first British P-8.

As we reported in 2018, when the first P-8A Poseidon arrives in the UK it will be ready to fly with a UK crew on day one thanks in part to a team of RAF personnel embedded with the US Navy through the Seedcorn programme.

The P-8 Poseidon, developed by Boeing, is designed to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with an electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) role. This involves carrying torpedoes, anti-ship missiles and other weapons.

Infographic of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

Poseidon contains up to 7 crew computer consoles in its cabin, has an electro-optical and infrared sensor turret, a maritime surveillance radar and signal intelligence system. Its radar is capable of detection, classification and identification of ships, small vessels and surfaced submarines.

It also has coastal surveillance capability meaning that the Poseidon can be used for search and rescue operations.

The second British P-8 taking flight in the US recently.

The UK has procured 9 of the aircraft.

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The Artist Formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

A positive welcome announcement 👍🏻🇬🇧 Good news. Seed corn was a smart move in an environment of short sighted stupidity with the MOD and their political masters .

Robert

Great news, the return of a much missed capability, and the P8 force will deliver a world class capability.

Alan Reid

Well, it’s a “capability” Robert – and we should be grateful for small mercies, but we could have had so much more. From BBC today https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-51356381 Joe Kennedy, who flew on Nimrods for more than 30 years, said the decision to scrap the planes and not immediately replace them with new maritime patrol aircraft still felt shocking almost 10 years later. He said: “We all felt incredibly sad this fantastic aeroplane was coming to an end of its life. “In my personal opinion I think it was a great loss and I think a lot of us thought it inconceivable… Read more »

HF

Totally agree

Robert blay

But like you say, it was 10 years ago, and now we can begin a new era of MPA capability.

dave12

A member of my family was a stress man on the Nimrod Project and refused sign off on the wings due to the problems.

Alan Reid

But someone signed off the wings, Dave, because here is MRA4 flying at an air-show in 2007!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOPX4W5vI2c

dave12

Yes indeed he left for new work before then,he also mention what peter pointed out is that it had fitted out issues.

dave12

*fitting out

peter

Only an idiot would try and build a nimrod out of old corroded comet’s, being hand built they had size variations which caused fitting out problems, no one wanted to fly them lol!

Alan Reid

Yes, Peter, trying to match a 40 years old Nimrod fuselage to new wings and engines was a really daft idea, and incurred unnecessary cost and delay. Initially, MRA4 also suffered from stability issues. No one is disputing these facts. By those issues had been resolved by March 2010 – and aircraft handled over the MoD.
And the finished aircraft was hardly unsafe, just to recap, it was displayed to tens of thousands of spectators at the Royal International Air Tattoo in both 2007 and 2009.

Mark B

We have moved on it seems pointless to dwell too much on the past

geoff

Agree Mark but dave12 comments above regarding the wings are the key to the fundamental problem echoing the Comet’s troubled beginning. In addition, ten years ago, the basic design was 60 years plus of age. It was perhaps a conversion that should not have been attempted. Camerons destruction of the airframes was a dramatic move that must have pained many involved in Nimrod but if it was deemed that it was not viable to continue then what was the alternative?

Rudeboy

2010 SDSR wasn’t the problem for Nimrod MRA.4. It just implemented a decision that was going to have to be taken eventually. No-one was going to sign off Nimrod for operations after Haddon Cave. The stupidity was not going for a full new build Nimrod or an A319/320 base aircraft in the first place. It removed any possibility of export sales and a wholly new airframe. It wasn’t just the wings that got replaced, it was huge amounts of the fuselage as well. It was about 80% new. Even if they’d have gone for a new build Nimrod the programme… Read more »

Steve R

To be honest with regards to the MR4 upgrades for Nimrod, it would have worked out much cheaper and more successful if we had just built new Nimrods from scratch instead of trying to upgrade 60 year old airframes.

Mark B

Hi Geoff. It is because I agree with the comments (good and bad) about Nimrod and at the same time feel that we have ended up at the right place with P-8 that leads me to the conclusion that Nimrod was good for it’s time but we were right to move on. Pity about the process it took to get there. Basing such an aircraft on a successful commercial aircraft now seems obvious. There is no need to reinvent that part of the wheel.

peter

Nimrod was never good as the air frames were of different dimensions and corroded, it was like the elephant in the room in the aircraft world.Everyone involved thought it was a stupid project!

Rudeboy

There is a spectacularly good thread over at Secret Projects Forum that details the real issues with the MRA.4 programme. It’s well worth a read. The wings are a complete myth by the sounds of it, and thats from people there. The issue was programme management and some, in retrospect, bad decisions and timing. This made the programme essentially massively overbudget and late, which then dropped it into the 2010 SDSR morass.
Go over and have a read, it corrects lots of the myths out there.

Alan Reid

Many thanks RudeBoy
Glad of the reinforcements! LOL
For those interested, here is the link.
https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/

Paul T

I read earlier that a certain Mr Cameron is looking to be a future Secretary General of NATO – mmmm what could possibly go wrong ?.

BIG D

I wonder????

Rooney

Seems odd that they didn’t include an IFR Probe (as was included in E3D buy) to make them able to utilise Voyager? As it is they’ll be reliant on boom equipped tankers to extend their limited Time on station!

julian1

The point of the purchase method – essentially piggy-backing USN lots, was to produce identical aircraft at economies of scale. I’m guessing that ANY deviation would have blown the logic of that procurement method out of the water. I wonder if they will be be retro-fitted in the future – absolutely makes sense.

Paul42

It’s about time we fitted booms to the Voyagers. We already have the RC135s and C17s, now the P8s that all have inflight refuelling capabilities that just need a boom…….

julian1

not sure the airtanker contract allows that?

Pompeyblokeinoxford

I am sure this have read that it is on the RAF wish list, so don’t think that is a problem. Again, it is all to do with money.

Rudeboy

Airtanker have offered to add booms….at a cost.

But…the Airtanker contract doesn’t last forever, by the time they’d got it installed and tested the RAF would have had about 5 years of use of it, all at an enormous cost. Better to rely on others I’m afraid…

Rooney

The reason we can’t AAR Helo’s is because of the AirTanker contract restricting their assets to all AAR, hence no AAR capability with our A400s. The sooner it’s reviewed the better!

Rudeboy

No need for review.
If Airtankers contract states that they do all AAR (and I doubt its that simply put) you simply task them for an AAR mission refuelling helicopters. When they don’t turn up or say they can’t you’ve got them on a breach and KPI’s with daily penalties swing into effect.
They’ll soon change their tune then…

Gunbuster

A word of caution. Look at the disaster that is the USAF tanker replacement the KC46. They have a boom but the all singing all dancing remote view system for the boom operator does not work. It is likely to take at least 4 years to fix.
So the USAF now has 30 + tankers it cannot really use because the boom may hit and damage the refueling aircraft. There are some shocking videos around of boom strikes during trials when the boom operator gets it wrong.

Paul42

That’s a design problem with an aircraft that many would argue wasn’t suitable in the first place. You really need a position for the boomer to be looking directly at the aircraft taking on fuel. I ‘ve been on a KC135 and the boomer has a pretty good view.

Rudeboy

Difference is the A330 MRTT has been developed and deployed successfully (after a bit of a cock up at the start). Now in use elsewhere so a known quantity.

geoff

Good point and true Julian. The UK hopefully learned that lesson with the Phantom when major changes were needed for them to operate from the RN’s carriers and they ended up being the slowest, thirstiest and most expensive variant of their kind!

HF

Not a pilot but I did read that there were some advantages the converted F4’s had over the US equivalents. Must check that up again.

Paul T

HF – Just re-read the reasoning for substituting the GE J-79 for the RR Spey,a very interesting Chicken and Egg scenario there.

farouk

I’m pretty sure that the Nimrod could shut down engines in which to increase loiter time. Does the P8 have similar capability?

Alan Reid

Hi Farouk, No – it’s considerably short-legged in comparison.
We sunk £4 Billon into a bespoke MPA solution (building on the success of MR2), then cancelled it – on the verge of its service introduction. Then sunk another £2B into an inferior aircraft!
One of the myths surrounding MRA4 is that it never flew!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvHRdXKruZc

farouk

Alan,
Many thanks.

Alan Reid

If any of you are thinking,”He’s banging on about the Nimrod cancellation again”, can I just say that I’m still not over the TSR2 debacle – and that was back in 1965!
On that basis, expect me to be posting about Nimrod until at least 2075!

Daniele Mandelli

And long may you bang away Alan!

I was not born for TSR2 but understand the angst!

farouk

Beautiful aircraft visited Cosford twice and seen it , in all its glory.
Funny enough the last time I visited, i was in the hangers with the German glide bomb, this flight Lt in a jumpsuit saw me taking pictures and out of everybody there walked over to me and asked if he could help.
I replied:” Yes. How many medals have you got?”
He replied “none”
I smiled and informed him I had 6.
He said “Army?”
I replied “Yes”
He walked away

Airborne

Farouk 6? You lost some mate lol. Take care 👍

Gunbuster

Not wanting to black cat but being Navy… I somehow ended up with 7… But I get the point.

Working with the light blue brethren in my final draft was entertaining when medals where required as part of the uniform.

HF

The thing that surprised me about TSR2 was its sheer size ! Enormous aircraft.

Paul.P

I feel your TSR2 pain…..a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

geoff

Haha Alan-still not over the TSR2. I’m a member of that club along with the Supersonic Harrier and cancelled Carriers of the class of 66!

HF

CVA01 – me too !

Herodotus

I am sympathetic about the TSR2…..I was a kid when Dennis Healey cancelled TSR2 and opted for the F111 instead. We never acquired the F111 and the TSR2 frames were broken up leaving just a cockpit section for engineering training purposes. I have never really understood the glee with which governments’ order the destruction of tax-payers property!

HF

It happens with all aircraft projects.

geoff

Hello Herodotus. Yes, Harold Bloody Wilson and his motley crew savaged the British Aircraft industry then. We would have had a RAF order for TSR2 and an almost certain undertaking from the Aussies as well to buy same. Ironic that we went on to build our own swing wing albeit a less ambitious aircraft and s you know the Aussies bought the F111. When these magnificent fighting machines were slaughtered by Healey the only thing that kept me sane was the Lightening! I remember a photo of a full Squadron of the glorious beasts on the front page of the… Read more »

HF

Errmmm….. before you savage Labour let’s remember Duncan Sandys and his 1957 defence review.

geoff

Fair comment HF. The man who said missiles would do the job and we wouldn’t need front line jets any more!!Join the discussion…

Ron

Yeep, just imagine a RAF with TSR2s, the Avro Arrow and Avro Vulcans. That would have been good, but politicains get in the way, I am still trying to work out what politicians are good for except screwing things up.

HF

I can quote chapter & verse on the lies Fox etc told at the time.
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmdfence/761/761vw15.htm

Alan Reid

Have you seen this clip, HF?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ORngO0VDCA
OK, it’s a BAE presentation – but experienced RAF MPA pilot, Stewart Butler, just can’t hide his enthusiasm for Nimrod MRA4.

HF

Not seen that before !

Alan Reid

Hi HF, See the excellent link supplied by RudeBoy.
https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/
See posts during Summer 2019 from an engineer on the MRA4 project, he goes into the wing issue in some detail.
Another myth-buster!

HF

Thanks !

Joe16

Thanks for this, I was looking for it the other day and couldn’t find it! Does anyone happen to know how authoritative the author is ont he issue? A lot of the veterans on here don’t seem convinced about the aircraft…

HF

As she says- ‘I was until October 2010 the Subject Matter Expert on the Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system for the Nimrod MRA4. I worked, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, on the evaluation of the system and advised on changes to the system. My previous role had been to carry out the same function on the Merlin Mk1 helicopter programme’

Robert blay

It was a great shame it was canx, but it was 800 million over budget, and I can’t remember how many years late.

Alan Reid

No doubt, Robert, it was a troubled programme – late and over-budget (although hardly unique in that respect). But at the time of cancellation, it was working ……. and being brought into service.
Its cancellation has never been properly explained, and one suspects muddle and bungling by senior ministers. If needed, HF has supplied a great link – with evidence from people working on the project.

geoff

Alan-In view of this then I apologise and withdraw my earlier comments regarding Comet/Nimrod and her advanced years. We were both initially conceived in about the same time-1949!!

Alan Reid

Nothing wrong with an old auld yin, Geoff!

Steve R

My guess on the reason it was cancelled is that we were still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was all about the war in terror, which both New Labour and the Tories were looking to tailor the military for.

Nimrod, as a maritime patrol plane, contributed nothing to either Iraq or Afghanistan campaigns; the former having no real navy worth the name and the latter being landlocked. It was over budget, late and as it didn’t benefit the War on Terror it was deemed unnecessary, and therefore cut.

Gunbuster

Haddon Cave was the reason.
There was zero understanding of risk or risk management in all three services.
Nowadays.everything is risk managed and signed off as a known risk

Alan Reid

You’re right, Gunbuster, it was the first aircraft to go through the new MMA body (formed after the MR2 2006 crash) – and MRA4 certification was still being signed-off at the time of SDSR 2010. Those troublesome old reused fuselages again!
The three elderly Air Seeker (Rivet Joint) aircraft also had certification originally delayed by the MMA – although eventually signed-off.

dan

The P-8A is the best MPA solution available now.

This comparison is like comparing the SR-71 to the current crop of Intel aircraft like the Global Hawk, U-2S, ect. The Blackbird had capabilities nothing can touch today but is it good bang for the money today? No. Just because something has a few high end capabilities doesn’t mean it’s the right platform today. The Blackbird’s day has long since passed and so has the Nimrod’s.

dan

Also forgot to mention the F-14 replaced by the Super Hornet. Did the Tomcat do some things better than the SH? Sure. But in the end it wasn’t worth all the money, maintenance, ect to keep the Cat flying so the USN went with the SH. Does the USN miss the range and top speed of the F-14, probably but like the Nimrod it’s time has passed.

Alan Reid

Dan, Congratulations, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen the SR-71 Blackbird and the Nimrod used in the same sentence!
But for a bungled cancellation Nimrod MRA4 would have protected our coastline during the last ten years – and with another 20 years service ahead of it …….But don’t take it from me, listen to the people who worked on the programme, and the RAF pilots who flew it.

Robert blay

I’m sure the MRA4 would have been a fantastic aircraft, but they should never have used the Nimrod airframe. With that wonderful thing called hindsight, maybe we could have developed our own European P8, but with a Airbus airframe instead of Boeing 737. But we can’t change the past. The P8 will offer a superb capability, and the vital growth, it will be a very different aircraft in 10 years time, to the one delivered today. And will be used for a much wider set of tasks then just traditional MPA, it will be a fully integrated ISTAR asset working… Read more »

John Clark

Hi Robert, the problem with say an A320 based MPA, would have been the old Spector of European bun fighting cooperation, coupled with small numbers, the cost would have gone through the roof and we would have ended up with something that looked remarkably like the P8, but at three times the price!

John Clark

Evening Alan, the MR4 would have without doubt been a very good platform indeed, probably the best… Unfortunately, even taking the initial contact into account, 25 essentially rebuild and re-worked aircraft with virtually no possibility of exports or further domestic orders, was a questionable decision. A massive (Titanic shaped) flaw in the program management came early on when a suggestion of bringing in retired Woodford engineering staff on consultation regarding the rebuild was rejected outright. Had they actually taken the trouble to this, they would have discovered that each airframe was dimensionally unique! They learned this the hard way when… Read more »

Paul42

The SR71 is long gone, but the SR72 is now under development…….

Rooney

Nimrod had 4 engines, you cant do that with a 2 engine aircraft!

julian1

4 engines as opposed to 2!

farouk

Thanks Julian, its just I’ve been reading elsewhere that jet liners can take off and land with just the one engine and just wondered if the P8 could cruise on just the one engine.

Dave G

They only do that in an emergency… if you lose an engine on takeoff after your committed you have to be able to go around and land. It takes time to start an engine. You don’t deliberately fly on only 1 if you have more…

Bloke down the pub

The first P-8 for the UK, nicknamed the ‘Pride of Moray’,
You wouldn’t say aircraft carrier R08 was nicknamed Queen Elizabeth.

geoff

Big Lizzie?

Alan Reid

Hi Geoff, My pal tells me the matelots simply call it, “The Queen”.

geoff

..and God Bless Her!!

George

Hi folkes, yes great news. However, a poor move to scarp Nimrod before a replacement could be delivered. Still let’s go forward with positive stride. Great for all our security, including SNP sniping at the sidelines!

Nigel Collins

Moving forward, the P8 has great potential!

“Navy To Greatly Expand P-8 Poseidon’s Mission With New Missiles, Mines, Bombs, And Decoys”

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/32071/navy-to-greatly-expand-p-8-poseidons-mission-with-new-missiles-mines-bombs-and-decoys

HF

Nimrod was cancelled for purely political reasons – selling cuts and ‘austerity’. The narrative was that it was socialist overspending that was responsible for the financial crisis in 07/08, not irresponsible practices in the ‘city’. Nimrod was sacrificed on the altar of ideology.

Steve Taylor

Not because each airframe was unique and had to be fettled by hand? Which meant the costs were horrendous.

James Fennell

Yes that was the reason.

HF

Nope – to emphasise the necessity of the austerity lie. Same reason the Harrier force was flogged off cheap to a delighted US Marines. I talked to some of the ehgineers who worked on the project. Aircraft were flying and ready to come into service, despite the lies that Fox parroted.

Alan Reid

At the time of cancellation (October 2010), aircraft had been delivered (March 2010), and crews were being trained at Warton. I understand BAE had offered to support the fleet for £75M per annum (source PPRUNE), and haggling was ongoing between the MoD and its supplier.
Hardly a “horrendous” cost in defence terms ………….

peter

Think someone got after dinner bribe, spending all that money upgrading and selling for peanuts !

Liam

Jeepers, the Daily Telegraph are reporting this story too. However, they say the P8 has a MAD. Why are the mainstream media so hopeless on defence topics?

WeeWill

Now get Marshall or similar to integrate British kit and weapons and we’re sorted. Oh and buy at least 3 more or commit to a fleet of complimentary Tritons…

Ron

Its good to see this capability return to the UK, we should never have got rid of it to start with. There are however from my point of view two areas of concern. 1. Air to Air refueling, with the P-8, C-17, RC135 and the future A-7 requireing boom refueling we need to resolve the issue with our refueling fleet. Many contries have the A330 MRTT with a boom and drogue whilst the RAF version has only drouge. So either we need to upgrade half of the refueling fleet to the boom and drouge fit out or possible exchange 3-4… Read more »