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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.

Utting said:

“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.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Just shows when our lads and lasses are given the right kit they are as good as anyone and, as proved here, the best.

    Be cool to have the US Navy release a couple of P-8s to us with the UK crews so we can kick off early

    • Absolutely Chris – we have the finest men and women in uniform anywhere. Just a pity HMG short-changes them at every turn. We have 9 P-8s on order but it is going to take 10yrs to get them – why??? Boggles the mind!

      • Because its not going to take 10 years. The programme to find and fund a replacement MPA (originally viewed as MMA – Multi Mission Aircraft) only started in 2014. We should have gone from start to all 9 aircraft in less than 8 years. For a complex programme, with no funding, that is probably the fastest aircraft procurement since the Mosquito!!

    • And why should the US damage its own national security and subsidize a nation that has deliberately made draconian slashes to its defense budget and refused to reallocate resources (0.7% GDP on foreign aid) to fund its national security needs? The US has enormous defense requirements in the Pacific, where the P-8 and P-3 play a crucial role. The UK has no Pacific defense requirements.. So the US should just jeopardize its own security so the UK can get an early start? Enough is enough.

  2. The fact that our soldiers, sailors and air personnel are as good as they are and second to none is despite the MoD and HMG, not because of them.

  3. I know its pointless to “look back in anger”but its worth recalling the disgraceful decision to scrap our Maritime air capability in the 2000,s maritime Nation eh. Nimrod if persued or a buy in aircraft should have been bought but as with the scrapping of the Sea Harrier fleet the Politicians had their way and are guilty of an utterly disgracefull act
    Are they sorry, of course not , nobody will call them to account. They rest on their comfortable Pensions forget they put the Nations safety at risk.

    • I was at the Avro museum last year and spoke to some of the engineers on the Nimrod project. They said two were in squadron service and a third was undergoing engine trilas. The cuts made post 2010 were purely ideological and with no consideration for the country’s security needs.

      • HF. Not sure who these engineers were, but that is simply not true. There were 2 pre-production prototypes flying. None had been accepted into the RAF or squadron service. There was a 3rd pre-production standard aircraft about to join the test programme. The simple fact is, the MRA4 was flawed in design and was going to cost further hundreds of millions to get close to be airworthy. With a looming black hole in the Defence Budget something had to go and, rightly or wrongly, they chose Harrier and MRA4.

  4. They are buying P-8 to protect the nuclear deterrent and carriers, and I am glad that is happening, yet the deterrent was still there requiring protection in 2010 when Nimrod was chopped, showing that it was costs, not requirements, that drove the decision.

  5. The tragedy of losing the Nimrod, the finest aircraft in the maritime role was not only the aircraft but the highly trained crews that flew in them. The arrival of P8’s in 2020 will not restore the the full professionalism the UK experienced in the MPA world until the crews regain their skills. This will not happen overnight. The support training facilities must be in place and ab initio training with the USN should begin as soon as possible. I hope they have been able to retain some of the former MPA air crew to undertake this role. Bob Crutchlow Wg Cdr RAF retd (Nimrod 1970-76)

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