A Minister has stated that British weapons may be added to P-8 “once the aircraft has reached full operating capability and there has been time to study the optimal utilisation model for the UK”.
The information came to light via a Parliamentary Question.
Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, asked:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when (a) UK torpedoes and (b) UK sonobuoys will be cleared for use for the P-8.”
Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, responded:
“The RAF Poseidon MRA1 was delivered in the same configuration as that operated by the US Navy which enables a swifter introduction to service, economies of scale and interoperability with close allies. We envisage that once the aircraft has reached full operating capability and there has been time to study the optimal utilisation model for the UK, the Department will be in a position to make decisions on future equipment configurations.”
This appears to be a softening in position. Back in 2016, then Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said:
“The Department intends to bring the P-8A into service without significant modification to ensure the delivery of operational capability as soon as is practicable. There are no current plans to integrate Stormshadow or other UK manufactured weapons onto the aircraft.”
The P-8 itself is able to conduct anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and shipping interdiction along with an electronic signals intelligence role. Undertaking this role would require the aircraft (in British service specifically as the Americans already do this) to be cleared to carry various missiles and other weapons.
The Mk 54 Torpedo is so far the only weapon that has been cleared for use on the aircraft in British service.
Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, said earlier this week:
“As at 4 January 2022 the Poseidon MRA1 has been cleared for Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare and Search and Rescue in support of submarines. It is assisted in these roles by its sophisticated suite of radar and data gathering equipment. The Mk 54 Torpedo has been cleared for use on the aircraft.”