Two Royal Air Force P-8 Poseidon aircrew have achieved 1,000 hours service on the aircraft type.
Master Aircrew (MACr) Mark Utting and MACr Paul O’Flaherty are currently stationed at the US Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida, where they have been helping prepare the RAF to accept its new maritime patrol aircraft into service from 2020.
“It’s great to be one of the first UK guys to receive the badge – it really puts a smile on my face.”
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Hillier said:
“Today recognises another milestone on the road to the regeneration of the UK’s maritime patrol capability. The dedication shown by the men and women involved in the Seedcorn programme is evident in those here today, who have achieved 1,000 hours on the P-8A Poseidon.
Their commitment is what continually drives forward the delivery of our maritime patrol capability. I am grateful for the role they are playing in the future defence of the UK, and developing our collaboration with partner nations.”
It should be noted that a UK only P-8 crew won the US Navy’s prestigious Anti-Submarine Warfare Fleet Challenge exercise back in 2014.
Captain Tony Rossi, P-8 Program Manager said:
“Seedcorn was a great victory. UK crews already have about 1,000 hours of P-8 time – they are some of the most capable operators that the US Navy has.
They already have about three to five years on the P-8, and so the UK will not be starting from a crawl.”
The Seedcorn initiative exists to sustain the UK’s capability to operate fixed wing Maritime Patrol Aircraft and maintain the associated skills of its personnel, should the UK wish to regenerate the capability. The estimated cost of the initiative on average is £2.4 million per year for the next five years; this includes salary and allowances.
UK aircrew are on exchange with a variety of allied forces where they are operating alongside our allies on-board front line maritime patrol aircraft in order to maintain their anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, long-range search and rescue and ISTAR skills.