The future home of the UK’s P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft is on target for completion, say the RAF.

Once established the facility will hold up to three aircraft, along with maintenance facilities, planning rooms, and office space for the operators and support staff.

The P-8A Poseidon Strategic Facility under construction
Construction of the home of the UK’s P-8A Poseidon MPA fleet is on schedule at RAF Lossiemouth. Image by: Flt Lt Ian Bright

According to a news release, while the facility is under construction in the UK, crews on 120 Squadron continue with their training on the P-8A Poseidon at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.

Rendering of a British P-8.

“Recently operating the P-8A off the east coast of the United States, a UK crew was instrumental in saving two men who had serious injuries. At the time the crew were hosting VIPs for a demonstration flight, but after picking up distress calls they changed course, assisting with the Search & Rescue operation while on-scene.

The crew acted as a crucial communications link between the agencies involved in the rescue, which included the US Coast Guard, and are credited with saving the injured men’s lives.”

The first of the RAF’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft is expected to be handed to 120 Squadron towards the end of 2019, before making its first appearance in the UK in early 2020.

30 COMMENTS

  1. RGR. Do pay attention. The taxiway is in the middle of the picture, not yet completed but pointing towards the main airfield, you can see part of th perimeter track at the top of the picture. The main work to put all the hard standing and aprons in is still going on.
    Doing a rough scaling from the equipment on the ground I reckon there will be enough room for all nine aircraft to be parked once they are all delivered. This will make a pretty publicity picture , and they can all be kept nice and smart until they are required for “Gavins adventures in the Arctic”

  2. Cheaper than reopening Kinloss which presumably had facilities sufficient to service the Nimrod fleet?

  3. I would be surprised how will Lossiemouth be able to accommodate the 4 Typhoon squadrons as well? This is a case of having your eggs in one basket!
    Would it make common sense to relocate the Typhoon squadrons to another base?

    • Meiron
      For Northern QRA, the only other realistic option would be Leuchars (near St Andrews) – closed as a front-line fighter base in about 2013-14, with the army later moving in.
      Whatever the merits, the number of aircraft at Lossiemouth reflects a strategy towards larger “super bases” – Marham, Coningsby etc

    • Meiron X – agree.in Peacetime concentrating so many assets in one place has benefits regards costs and efficiencies etc,but in Wartime I would hope that plans were in place to disperse ,hopefully old habits die hard.

          • They’re apparently designed to be CBR-resistant, but realistically if it comes to using that then there won’t be much airfield left to fly from. I’d guess the resistance also depends on maintenance, and I doubt much upkeep has gone into the CBR systems since ’91 or so.
            I’ve heard that Ops and Weapons Control (ABM’s) are CBR-proof at certain bases, no idea if it’s true or not.

        • Yes if the precision guided weapon does a direct hit and is +500kg then the HAS is irrelevant. For near misses or slight angles of attack though the HAS is priceless and superb at protecting very expensive and delicate aircraft from blast and shrapnel/ fragmentation damage. Interestingly if the HAS has a top cover of 1-2m of soil then it increases its resistance to explosive yield and armour piercing weapons by 35-40%. So all our HAS should be top covered in soil.
          If the move to super bases is what the UK wants, with the optimising the defence estate report then the next relevant question is what early warning radar and base defences are in place to limit an attack by precision guided weapons?. Like Russias plethora of cruise missiles.
          I would think land ceptor and phalanx block 1B +/- dragon fire to be the minimum. The UK’s home bases are currently an easy target. Time to give them the ability to defend themselves.

          • Agree on HAS and hardening in general.

            Thing to remember on the defence estate it is just another cut at the end of the day as they cost money. Less assets gives the chance to cut bases.

            I don’t think making the estate more defendable or resilient is even in HMG mind apart from C3.

            “what early warning radar and base defences are in place to limit an attack by precision guided weapons?. ”

            Typhoon and the UK ASCS.

            Some of it remains in Cold War protected accommodation, a nuclear bunker. The CRC “Control Reporting Centre’ at Boulmer. The others at Buchan and Neatishead were closed in 2004 ish but are still extant if needed. Above these is the NADOC at High Wycombe, which is only semi sunken and easy to locate. No alternate standby’s now exit as far as I’m aware. If they do that is classified.

            Talking of vulnerabilities I believe the CRC at Neatishead is now in the Dambusters Cinema!

            The radar heads at Saxa, Benbecula, Buchan, Brizlee Wood, Staxton Wold, Trimingham, and Portreath could be knocked out easily if fighters fail to stop attacks.
            The varied CAA radar around the country contribute to the RAP “Recognised Air Picture” too.

            There have been no SAM since Bloodhound which covered the east coast and Anglia. The RAF Regiment Squadrons of Rapier at Lossimouth and Leuchars and other’s for USAF sites are long gone.

            If the threat does increase there will be a lot to rebuild.

      • 2 HAS complex of 9 shelters each from a look on google maps.

        Wikipedia says the RAF has 149 typhoon in service, split across 9 squadrons and 1 flight.
        There’s 4 typhoon assigned to 1435 Flt leaving 145 aircraft.
        Assuming an even split (because I’ve spent too much time on this already) that’s just over 16 aircraft per squadron. 4 squadrons at Lossiemouth equals 64 aircraft.

        That leaves, assuming a 75% availability of aircraft, 48 not in maintenance. 18 in HAS (36%) and 30 on the flightline. Or at €90M/aircraft (£77,300,000) that’s £2,319,000,000 sat out in the open.

        Anyone fancy having a go with more accurate numbers?

        • Remember the OCU will have many more than a front line unit, but that is just me being pedantic.

          The £ figure is still relevant though. Very expensive aircraft with no individual shelters.

          Ironically there were many HAS built, they are now at stations without aircraft!

          Thank you James.

  4. At least having these bases in Army hands lends the possibility of a return to aviation use in the future if required.

    It also makes a lot of sense with an eye to returning to out of area operations, to have aircraft go to the assets, rather than assets pack up and go the aircraft…

    Got to be s good plan to keep runways in a good state of repair, to be able to fly in the C17’s, A400’s etc.

    • “to have aircraft go to the assets, rather than assets pack up and go the aircraft…”

      I have always though this John. I recall RAF transports visiting Chivenor and Woodbridge.

      Which is why I was disappointed they did not make Lyneham into a super garrison. The aircraft to fly to the very barracks the people and kit are situated.

      • It just seems like the common sense thing to do Daniele, alas common sense is in short supply at the MOD…

  5. David’s right 9 Poseidon is not enough for a viable MPA capability when you consider the huge expanse of water that is the UK EEZ and territorial zones. At least another 6 need to be ordered.
    Re HAS I would say concrete is cheap. Build more and fqdt at these new super bases. The HAS sites can be used to house armoured vehicles (also chuffing expensive) if the base is now in army hands. The RAF chosen super bases need to have adequate HAS to protect the frontline exquisite aircraft as well as land ceptor, phalanx and dragonfire. If we are going to be home basing rather than spending billions a year housing troops in a thankless EU then makes perfect sense to invest in the bases and ensure they are tough nuts to crack

    • I agree Mr Bell.

      Need more Poseidon, something will need to be cut though unless they get more money.

      HAS at army barracks are indeed used I believe, Wattisham for example.

      I think the chance of land based CIWS and Dragonfire at MOB within the UK are zero.
      Not enough of a threat to justify the expense and where would you start?

      I’d prefer that sort of defence at radar and other sites myself if it ever became necessary.

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