A Royal Air Force P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft completed its first operational mission this week shadowing a Russian warship in the North Sea near to UK waters.

On Monday morning, a P-8A Poseidon from 120 Squadron based at Kinloss Barracks completed a prolonged overwatch of the Russian warship, Vasily Bykov, as it passed through the North Sea.

Oblique and overviews of the Vasily Bykov transiting through the north sea on 03/08/2020 as shot from P-8A Poseidon ZP801.

It did so with support from Typhoon Fighters, based at RAF Lossiemouth and the VIP Voyager refuelling aircraft, stationed at RAF Brize Norton.

RAF P-8A Poseidon overflys Vasily Bykov over the North Sea.

Minister of State for Defence, Baroness Goldie said:

“In an increasingly unstable world of persistent challenge and competition, it is important that the UK Armed Forces possess cutting edge technology to meet threats wherever they emerge. The sight of our new Poseidon aircraft, working in concert with the Royal Navy has showcased the UK’s readiness to defend its waters from any incursion.”

RAF P-8A Poseidon and Typhoon overflys Vasily Bykov over the North Sea.

Air Vice Marshal Ian Duguid, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group, was quoted as saying:

“The RAF continues to evolve and develop as the Next Generation RAF becomes a reality. The Poseidon aircraft is a key part of that development and evidence of the hard work performed by all those involved. This mission by the Poseidon, to monitor Russian naval activity, shows how the RAF will now be able to contribute to Maritime Security alongside the Royal Navy and our NATO allies, to secure the seas and skies.”

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Steve

““In an increasingly unstable world of persistent challenge and competition, it is important that the UK Armed Forces possess cutting edge technology to meet threats wherever they emerge.”

and yet we send up 2 planes, neither of which have any form of anti-ship capability.

Rfn_Weston

My thoughts exactly, not to be negative but what were we going to do? Fire chaff at them?

David

I always thought it was ludicrous the RAF has no anti-ship missiles that could be launched by Typhoon. Anyone know why that is? – lack of money??

Paul T

David – I think the SPEAR range of Weapons will cover that base in the future,failing that the MBDA MARTE ER would be an option.Yes money is always an issue,Sea Eagle was retired to save costs on a MLU i believe.

Nigel Collins

No doubt we could order some of these if required.

The P-8 can carry a range of munitions as this article tends to suggest.

“The Navy is moving forward with the integration of the long-range anti-ship missile on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.”

https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/us-navy-to-arm-p-8a-poseidon-with-long-range-anti-ship-missile/

Steve

The issue of ordering when required, is that by the time they arrive it will be too late, especially if the US or other nations also order at the same time.

Robert Blay

The money has been spent on fighting a land locked anti terrorism war for the last 20 years, with little threat from the Russian Navy, and despite the talk, not much has changed today really.

Jack

I would imagine a paveway 1V LGB might give the captain of a frigate a bit of a headache.

Frank62

If the aircraft isn’t taken pout by its SAMs, the CIUWS would probably easily take out a LGB.

Frank62

I’ve taken several Pouts, but that should be “out”.

Supportive Bloke

I would have thought a laser designated Paveway would do the job.

Also the P8 does carry torpedoes that are anti Submarine/ship capable. Diesel electric subs can be attacked on the surface……when they come up to snorkel and recharge…..

Ian

Hi S.B. Do we have these torpedoes in operation yet ……or they on a wish list somewhere….?

Gunbuster

Lightweight torpedoes don’t usuallyhave an anti ship capability. They have a ceiling setting so that when launched they don’t come back and hit the launching ship. Same settings are in place when air dropped.
Against a deep draft tanker you may get lucky and hit it but it won’t do a lot of damage on a target that is tanker sized.

Ian

Thank you Gunbuster……

Supportive Bloke

I agree – but as you say it is a setting that can be changed by the weapons engineers.

Gunbuster

No. You cannot change it. You can select a couple of ceiling heights but you cannot set it to say 1 m.. The ceiling heights are hard coded into the software.. Settings that allow LWT to go to near to the surface create problems such as the weapon porpoising in and out of the sea as it heads for a target.

Supportive Bloke

Ah well I’ve never touched an air launched torpedo in my life – I stand corrected…..

Supportive Bloke

I suspect this is where I got the dud information from about the MK54.

https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/mk-54-lightweight-torpedo/

“The UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is armed with Mk 54 torpedoes for attacking both surface and sub-surface targets.”

I do have a vague memory that I was told that the MK54 did have a possible hockey stick attack profile…..

Anyway thanks for the correction Gunbuster.

Steve

Can also carry harpoon but we haven’t brought either.

Supportive Bloke

No point – obsolete

pkcasimir

The Harpoon Block II+ is hardly obsolete.

Supportive Bloke

Hmmmmme it is less obsolete granted but it isn’t either stealthy or agile even if the electronics are bang up to date.

dan

Is a lot better than carrying nothing. lol

Spyinthesky

Indeed nothing is more obsolete than having nothing… Unless I guess one believes doing nothing and sending in a complaint afterwards is a better option which I guess many will.

Mark

Yeah, and your chances of surviving long enough to drop a torpedo against a surface ship are exactly 0%…

Aaron rowe

Well against this one in particular its more likely its a patrol ship with no anti-air other than its AK-176, unless its got MANPADS on board.

Paul T

Aaron – Strangely for a Russian Ship it does seem to be a bit light on AAW Weapons,but compared to say a River ( similar role and size ) it does pack a punch.

Aaron rowe

Yeah it’s got the Kalibr missile equipped I believe, but it’s hardly a secret that for the price and size the Rivers aren’t exactly well armed.

Rfn_Weston

FFBNW both anti surface & anti air missiles…

David Barry

We’ll still have some swordfish in a museum… they’ll get through!

Frank62

My thoughts exactly. How many ships & crew will be lost before FFBNW kit is supplied & fitted? The trecherous neglect our forces suffer is likely to prove very costly when the SHTF & your enemies doon’t always give fair warning. How our adversaries must tremble at our ships missing essential gear/capabilities. Politicians get knighthoods for screwing our sevicemen.

Gunbuster

During the prep period for the Falklands and GW1 it took around about 2 days for kit to arrive from strategic stores. We where making the drawings up as we went along getting it fitted and wired in. In the case of FFBNW nowadays, the foundations , wiring and service connections are already there onboard.
They are part of the Fit To Receive Log held onboard and maintenance and checks are done on them to ensure that they are ready to receive the kit at minimal notice if required.

Frank62

Thanks for that G. My concern is that we don’t have the kit in store that is FFBNW & when needed urgently it will take quite some time before it is purchased, delivered & installed. During that time the vessels will have to operate with glaring gaps in capabilities. With such a tiny fleet we cannot afford 2nd rate warships. If every nation did this nonesense, then come a crisis there’d be more delay as manufacturers seek to produce & deliver the kit & such customers would have to queue. I just find this recklessly dangerous for our forces &… Read more »

Steve R

Problem is the Paveway will have a small fraction of the range of any defensive SAMs that could be fired at it.

The sooner we get SPEAR3 the better.

Supportive Bloke

That all rather depends on this particular ship having any SAM capability and the ability of EW to suppress the systems in play.

Heidfirst

Paveway range is ~15k iirc. This particular ship I don’t think can reach out & touch that far.

Steve R

That particular ship, maybe. Others will have a SAM range far exceeding that. A Typhoon going after a frigate or destroyer, armed only with Paveways, will be swatted down like a fly before it gets in range.

Supportive Bloke

But we are talking about **this** ship.

**this** ship has limited offensive capabilities.

All I am saying was the tasking was appropriate and those planes could deal with whatever issue **this** ship presented.

Otherwise we are generating straw man arguments – what if the Russians sent a fully kitted our aircraft carrier etc. We all know it can’t happen unless it is towed past the UK.

Dern

Plus lets face it… Neither Moscow nor London is really interested in starting a potentially nuclear war over a violation of the 12mile UNCLOS rule (or even a badly handled Russian ship causing chaos in shipping lanes).

Supportive Bloke

Agreed

This was a discussion of the hypothetical

Nigel Collins

LRASM seems to be a very good fit? “The key challenge is to choose the right missile to maximise the performance of platforms that are available, and in doing so there are a range of other issues to consider. Poseidon will often operate at high altitude, so it would come within range of advanced long-range surface to air missiles such as the S-300 or S-400. If equipped with the NSM (externally carried) which has a 125km range, the F35B might also be exposed to these threats. Typhoon is not stealthy, does not have long legs without air to air refuelling,… Read more »

Meirion X

The MoD have already spent money on integrating Storm Shadow to the Typhoon.
I can’t see the MoD acquiring another similar warpon!

Steve R

But Storm Shadow isn’t designed for use against ships. Right now the only effective antiship weapins we have are the Spearfish torpedoes on our submarines, and we have only 7 fleet subs.

I’d say LRASM would be a great buy for our planes. I’d thought Harpoon Block II or NSM originally as they can be fired by aircraft and ships, and can be fired from quad canister launchers bolted onto the deck, a cheaper way of arming our ships for offensive anti-ship capability than VLS.

Though Nigel has a good point about the range of the LRASM.

Nick

Would the Storm Shadow not be relatively easy to give an anti-ship capability, in a similar way to the naval upgrade of the Tomahawk? MDBA have advanced anti-ship sensors from the likes of Exocet or Sea Venom and Storm Shadow is a big missile, so probably some space for an additional sensor, as well as 450kg warhead that would sink just about anything. Maybe not a world-beater, but Typhoons with this, Wildcat with Sea Venom and Lightning 2s with Spear 3 would be a pretty good offering.

Lordtemplar

Nick, the UK and France are already working on a next gen anti ship missile due for the end of the decade. This will be done by MBDA. Until then an off the shelf solutiion is the only option.

Lordtemplar

Nick. Obviously the lack of anti ship missile is not ideal, but as i said before this will be eventually addressed. Also if i am not mistaken they also meant to carry torpedoes.
It is also important to remember that the primary mission for these aircraft is the search and track capility. Once an enemy is located this can be communicated back to command which can deploy other assets to intercept and destroy. So if you have a frigate or sub in the area it can launch a weapon based on the target info received by the P8.

Meirion X

LRASM has a very similar range to Storm Shadow. But I honestly can not see the UK Gov. procuring LRASM at $3m each!

Ian M

Co-Pilot of the P8 could open a window and use his 9mm?

George Royce

Hear hear.

We have £200 billion for a bloody railway, £60 billion for the Boris Bridge, but we can’t bring our armed forces spending up to 3% of GDP…

Says it all about our stupid politicians.

Ian

Hi George…….on the radio this morning an interviewer said we have just spent £252 million on the wrong masks for the NHS
That’s another type 31 …….the HMS Face Mask perhaps…..

KPB

HMS Face Palm, more like.

George Royce

For goodness sake

Spyinthesky

Yeah and all organised by a Ministerial adviser and his mates in an enabling company to which he is also an adviser. And we wonder where all the wasted money goes.

Ian

Spyinthesky is politics corrupt I wonder……. if we knew in advance we could have sold them some kitchen roll folded into 3 for £150 million……

Robert Blay

face masks don’t have operating costs for 30+ years though 😆

TrevorH

These masks are ear loop masks as opposed to head tied masks and its “suggested” “possibly” they are not safe. hmmm…
50 million masks. The press say part of a £250 million order, “part” of an order with an other 150 different (safe) masks.

So please spout about, but the facts are not what you claim. The alleged loss is not what us claimed and they are safe for the general publc to
buy.

Meanwhile out as sea, a pokey Russian ship is shadowed by a P8. What is the big deal. We are not at war

OldSchool

Well said. Lets face it – it’s just an RAF photo op for the new P8.

lee1

It was not the full £250 million but it was a significant proportion of them (I think I saw the figure of £175 million of them). The major issue here is that the company was not a PPE company, In fact it was a private equity company and only had capital of £100 at the time it was awarded the contract. Then it turns out that the company is owned by a government adviser!!! It seems like this government loves giving contracts to companies either owned by advisers and MPs or those of friends of advisers or MPs…

Paul.P

I would love to advise the government ….where do I sign?

Lee1

It is an exclusive club… You have to have been to Eaton, Cambridge or Oxford… Or if you have links to Russia you may be okay too…

Frank62

HMS Masky Mc Mask Face.

Frank62

Agreed. It’s a disgrace. We should’ve had an interim ASM fleetwide years ago.

Daniele Mandelli

I don’t bother reading whatever a minister says. It is all standard spin and I doubt she knows where Kinloss or Lossi even are.

Charles Verrier

Why would it need weapons on this flight? What do you think is going to happen?

Steve

it wouldn’t need weapons but it was just the spokesperson comment that made me laugh.

Reality is we could have escorted it with a inflatable lino, but more about the what if, which is the point of having a military.

Dern

What if Russia decided to initiate a potentially nuclear conflict by violating the terretorial waters of the UK with a patrol boat?

Seems a bit extreme. Lets face it in the “what if” scenario of escorting a Russian Patrol Boat turning into a shooting war, what the P8 was carrying will be the least of our concerns.

Steve

Its not the today what if, its tomorrow case. Very few wars come with a notice period and so if we don’t have the capability when it hits we have an issue.

Steve

The MPA’s were used during the falklands and gulf war etc. It’s not just a war against Russia that they would be useful.

Dern

We’re not talking about tomorrow however, people are being upset that THIS ship is being shadowed by THESE aircraft with no missiles.

Steve

Its the hypothetical tomorrow. A war could happen at anytime, and the military has to be prepared for it. Yes in 10-20 years time the Anglo/French missile (Perseus) might be ready, but what happens if we need a MPA to protect against shipping in the meantime. For example how useful would it to have had armed p8s available in the gulf at the height of the tensions last year. They could have discouraged iran from taking the ship. The point is conflicts can happen overnight, with a military response needed in weeks. Look at Iraq/Afgan, just how long did it… Read more »

Dern

Would they? Would we really sink Iranian ships with a P8 launched missile or would the Iranian have called our bluff? I suspect the latter.

Steve

Who knows, but when the Merlin was hovering over the ship and the frigate was telling the Iranian gun boat to back away they did it and so didn’t call the bluff, so its possible they wouldn’t with a P8.

Darren hall

However, they Typhoon does have weapons that could be used against a maritime target.
Just not weapons designed solely for maritime targets.

As to Poseidon, I’m sure there are some left over from the mighty hunter the God of the Sea can use in a pinch….

Paul T

Steve – In Peacetime the lack of Anti – Ship capability is not a problem,but if things hotted up a bit hopefully the spirit of 1982 still exists.

Paul.P

Typhoon carries Brimstone 2 which has a range of nearly 40 miles. Although it is designed to attack armoured vehicles could it target a naval vessel?

Spyinthesky

It has been shown to be effective against fast patrol craft, I watched the impressive video some years back when they wer trying to flog it to the yanks. So hitting this target would likely be a doddle, what damage is done is perhaps the real question or alternatively how many Brimstones can it carry.

Paul.P

I think the maximum load is 12 missiles. Brimstone has an armour piercing warhead I think which might not be best fitted to doing maximum damage. I’ll defer to the experts there.
You can see why the RN sponsored Sea Venom; although a relatively small missile it has the ability to be guided precisely onto vulnerable parts of the ship like the mast.
The optimum way of shadowing these Russian vessels could be a River 2 with a Wildcat on board for a few days.

Robert Blay

P8 and Typhoon are world beaters, the Russians possess nothing of equal capability.

David

Not that it has much of a connection to the article, but I felt I should share this link – https://www.armouredcarriers.com

Ulya

Interesting link, thank you David

john melling

We are supposed to be getting Brimstone\SPEAR 3 in the mid-2020s!
A few of those would do the job! Some day…

Lordtemplar

Nice 👍 Never realized the jet powered Poseidon operated at such low altitude

Daniele Mandelli

From what I read of the Nimrod being able to shut an engine down while loitering at low level over an area of interest I doubt it has the Nimrods low level capability?

Supportive Bloke

That low flying caused a lot of airframe stress

Daniele Mandelli

Any idea how the P8 compares?

Supportive Bloke

Electronics are at a totally different level in the P8. airframe modern and cheaper to maintain quieter and more comfortable. In Nimrod you **knew** you were flying military. There is no MAD on our P8’s so no real need to fly that low. Airframe is strengthened but not to the same extent as the militarised Comet/Nimrod. A lot of the issues with Nimrod were some of the modifications and repairs done over time – holes drilled where you wouldn’t dream of now. That was the other reason, apart from cost, for the shrinking upgrade fleet, every time one got pulled… Read more »

Gunbuster

Spot on Bloke! The Nimrod that went down in Afghan led to Hadden Cave. Nobody knew at the time what the cascade effects of the numerous mods would have on the aircraft if one of them failed. As you say everything has a “what if this happens” safety case done to it. You can no longer just bolt on or cowboy the adding of mods or kit to any platform. You have to workout what the unintended consequences could be and manage the risk. This is what drives my frustration at people who say let’s just buy a system and… Read more »

lee1

I thought it was based on a strengthened version of the 737 so I assume it can operate at low level pretty fine. The problem is the fuel burn at low level and the inability for it to refuel from RAF aircraft. I am sure we could call on a friendly nation to come and refuel it for us though if we ask nicely, until we wake up and cancel that crazy tanker contract we have!!!

Daniel

Nothing wrong with the tanker contract, if anything it’s excellent value for money. It isn’t Airtanker who are preventing the MoD from spending some money for once and installing booms on the voyagers like the Aussies have.

Lee1

It is an awful contract. Tankers are a strategic asset and they should not be owned and run by a private company. The UK should have its own tanker fleet owned by the forces. And yes it is the company that is potentially an issue here. The tankers are not owned by the RAF so they can’t simply get them modified.

Meirion X

So who are preventing the PFI from fitting the brooms?

Dave

Ultimately, probably nothing. A better question would be how much would it cost MOD to get them upgraded through the PFI contract… air tanker wont do it for free.

Gavin Gordon

Tracking stuff looks easier than I thought.

Paul T

Lordtemplar – From what i have read the P8 uses a different Mission Profile than that used by the Nimrod – it does its work at a higher Altitude.Strangely enough the Kawasaki P1 which was allegedly being considered for the RAF MRA role was more Nimrod – like in the way it worked.

Cam

Shouldn’t we have some tankers based at Lossiemouth? Or is it not that big a deal to scramble one from Brize Norton to the north if needed.

Longtime

Cam it’s not really a problem I put all the figures up on 1 of the Facebook post about the VIP Voyager but even with the typhoon going full reheat (very rarely max all the way) to the edge of the Scottish FIR, mathematically they had 30-35min on station at full dry power (doubt they would be) and 15min at cruise to get fuelled up. I worked it out using worst economy figures I could find for intercept load out and the highest full burn rates for each setting. Essentially as long as the voyager was in the air within… Read more »

Cam

Cheers Longtime, interesting to know.

lee1

Our tankers can not refuel the poseidon… It needs a boom refuelling probe which ours do not have. It is the same with the C17 and will be the same for the wedgetail…

Gary

I’ve often thought surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to design an “adaptor probe” with a male drogue connection at one end with the other end connected into the the boom socket on the aircraft? Is this feasible?

lee1

Not really. the probes take a huge amount of stress so retro fitting a plug in one would not be feasible as it would likely snap off. It would be better to actually cancel the stupid contract we have for tankers and buy our own and this time have the booms fitted! We for instance can’t refuel many US aircraft as even their fighters have boom refuelling unless they are marine aircraft. I am pretty sure the F35-A has boom refuelling so if the RAF bought that we could not refuel it! I think we are the only Voyager customer… Read more »

TrevorH

From what I have read the voyager can refuel F18s. I thought we could refuel USAF planes regularly in Kuwait Iraq and Afganistan

Heidfirst

F-18s were designed for US Marine/Navy – they use probe & drogue. USAF are all boom.

Gavin Gordon

The Russians are sitting ducks coming that route. Pesumably just practice for the RAF as that’s quite some resources, unless we suspected a sub – unlikely. Prefer an OPV.

lee1

It is just protocol. We track them through to let them know we are watching and to make sure they keep to the shipping lane. But yes it is also good practice.

Heidfirst
Geoffrey Roach

Anti ship missiles eh? I thought everyone used to this site would know that the key words of the MOD are “designed for but not fitted”! This is so we can save a half a per cent on the build price whilst only leaving the crew vulnerable.

julian1

anyone know why the typhoons went? not really necessary now as we have MPA

Meirion X

I think the RAF are experimenting, to see how close can it get, Typhoon is on standby just in case the Russians get argy!

Meirion X

That Typhoon is ZK368, is one of the new batch.

Robert Blay

It’s a photo op mate, Brand new P8 with a Typhoon, that’s about it.

Rob N

Hi,

So what does the UK P8 currently carry. I thought it was to come with US kit Mk46, Harpoon etc. I did not think Stingray was integrated on the P8 yet.

Has it got any active weapones!

jiminnorfolk

Good Morning,
Following on from Steve’s comment. The RAF will soon have four aircraft types in service that require a Boom equipped Tanker, P8, E7 Airseeker and C17. Are there any plans afoot to fit a boom on our Voyagers?

Ron5

Require?

Nigel Collins

An interesting piece on the future of the Lancaster House agreement re the future of Perseus.

https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2019/07/will-the-french-british-fc-asw-missile-program-survive-a-hard-brexit/

Mohan

Cant a satellite do this job more economically?