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Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin has signed a P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft ‘declaration’ with her United States counterpart, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.

The declaration is designed to ‘further strengthen the uniquely close defence relationship’ between the United Kingdom and the United States.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

“The United States is our pre-eminent Ally in global defence and collective security. This declaration is further evidence of how our two countries continue to cooperate and build mutual security, particularly in the North Atlantic region.

Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178 billion Equipment Plan, the P-8A programme will provide us with enhanced surveillance capabilities.”

According to a Ministry of Defence press release:

“The declaration provides a new opportunity to maximise value for money for the taxpayer and continue to strengthen UK-US interoperability and to pursue efficiencies in operations and support, including at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, where the P-8A will bring some 400+ jobs. The Department of Defense and Ministry of Defence plan to cooperate closely on operation of their P-8A aircraft in the North Atlantic to ensure a coherent approach to MPA activity.

Delivering on the commitment of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the UK is purchasing nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPAs to be based in RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland. The aircraft will add to the UK’s surveillance capabilities, including conducting anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue and intelligence gathering.”

US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said:

“Signing of the Declaration on P-8A Poseidon Bilateral Cooperation exemplifies the importance and strength of the US-UK partnership.

This cooperation agreement ensures and deepens our interoperability and maritime patrol capabilities. Together, the US and UK will continue to deter regional threats and maintain a robust military posture.”

 

31 COMMENTS

    • Paul,

      Russia is a has been state. They’re slowly digging a hole for themselves so deep they’ll never climb out of. The civilised world is just sitting back waiting for them to finally realise that constantly lying to their own people and to the rest of the world does not pay. In the end annexing Crimea will cost them trillions of US dollars and set them back decades.

    • Much as I’d love us to have bought British Dave, Nimrod had turned into a disastrous money pit. I have my doubts that they ever would’ve flown again.

      • Nimrod was 95% a new aircraft design and suffered the same sort of delays as say, the F-35. If you read this report at https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmdfence/761/761vw15.htm particularly the section “In defence of the Nimrod”, you will see that it was in fact a good aircraft with many hours of flight testing and we could now have had 9 aircraft in service for a good few years. Instead the Nimrod was axed for no good reason in the infamous SDSR 2010 after £3-4 Bn was spent on it to make certain people look tough about saving money. We are now going to spend roughly the same amount on a US aircraft which has the tactical command system (TCS) developed for the Nimrod by Boeing. No doubt we shall have to buy the weapons for it from the Americans too.

        • I visited the Avro Museum at Woodford last year. Some of the volunteers were engineers who had worked on Nimrod. They told me 2 were in RAF service and one was having engine trials. It was an act of military and political vandalism which left a huge gap in capability.

        • It was a shit show from start to finish. BAE knew the condition of the planes when they proposed to refurb them but went ahead anyway when they could have used an air bus a300 airframe which would have been a known quantity and likely much cheaper and delivered on schedule. I dont blame the current government for snubbing bae at pretty much every new military contract theyve tendered for so far.

          • I did, the MRA4 would not have been in service by 2011. It’s easy to claim that all of the prolonged issued where finally fixed when they longer have to be backed up.
            Nowhere did it do a comparison with a airbus air frame. This would have been a much better option and actually included export potential to France, Spain Germany etc. It was a terrible project from its exception.

        • The problem with the Nimrod air frames was that each one was built to a slightly different size. Operationally this would have been almost impossible and extremely expensive. If very early on in the program they had designed and built a new air frame or used Airbus/Boeing the UK would right now be operating their own planes.

          With the amount of money they spent on this Nimrod boondoggle, it wouldn’t have been a problem to do do.

  1. When is the expected entry to service date? I assume there will be a gap between delivery and having the planes in the air doing their job.

    • Possibly an extremely short one. There have been RAF seedcorn crew in US P-8s for a while now and another couple of years to rotate more through. If, as a lot of people think, the weapons will be the same as the US ones at least initially then we should have fully trained crews plus hopefully logistics in place even before the tyres touch UK tarmac so 2019 could well be in-service date as well.

  2. Instead of persisting with Nimrod, BAE should have developed the A319 airframe with the Nimrod systems and they would be ahead of the game now !

    • Adrian – Exactly right. And something on which I wrote to my MP about in 2010. But we come back to the main issue and why Nimrod was cancelled (quite rightly in my view) and that is we had no money. Even to buy s/h A320s and ‘do them up’. 5 years later and the Boeing is a better option.

  3. Hope a couple dozen of air launched Harpoons are included in the package to give the UK some badly needed maritime strike capability.

  4. From my perspective this is great news and yes, whilst things have been tough for the armed forces for the past 10 years I think we are starting to see real force regeneration.

    At the end of the day the MOD budget is quite large and will be £40bn ($60bn) p.a. in a couple of years time. The USMC get by on less than $30bn p.a. (audited accounts as well) and have a large fighting force than the whole of the UK and more aircraft than the RAF. Clearly they do not cover everything in this budget, but it does go to show how poorly we have been spending our money.

    The leadership of all 3 services need to take a good hard look at themselves, Nimrod, FRES, T26 – all have been poorly managed and supported by the leadership.

    Great news on the P8’s lets hope we get the remaining 8 in short order and correct what has been a very poor decision.

  5. I would have liked to have seen the UK use an Airbus design and build our own solution post Nimrod.

    “…and continue to strengthen UK-US interoperability” – This is all very good and well but it has to work both ways. When are we going to see a commitment from the US to buy billions of British defence equipment? They need a new frigate, a new Trainer, can buy Brimstone, Airbus A330 MRTT and A400M, the list goes on…

  6. The MRA4s had a significantly long list of unsafe points which would have been very expensive to fix to a point of safety, where risks are rendered ALARP ( As Low As Reasonably Possible).

    I think that it sat somewhere between a Dream, a Wish and a Promise – but left it dangerous and expensive and late.

    I understand BAE declined to give a cost to fix safety faults and a time to fix them.

    • When the British government makes a decision to take an old airframe, refurbish the fuselage and design new wings and re-engine, its akin to admitting the whole exercise is a work creation moneypit. I don’t believe for a minute that the experts in the MOD considered the Nimrod 2000 as a good idea even with their track record of dithering irresponsibility. Having been a part of another work creation exercise (VC10) I witnessed first hand the waste and inefficiency in order to keep people in work and to keep BAe in profit.

    • I think Mike Saul has hit the nail on the head.
      I felt for the folk who endeavoured so hard to overcome the obstacles to bring the MRA4 into service but I understood the RAF were unhappy with a number of issues with the plane.
      The whole issue around re-engineering a percentage of a 40 year old handbuilt airframe was, at best, optimistic.
      A shame that an airframe that evolved and served so well in earlier iterations, should have been tarnished by such a unsatisfactory ending.

  7. Would have preferred a more concerted commitment to integrate UK weapons and sensors, Stingray, sonobuoys etc. Buying in stocks of US kit for such a small number of aircraft seems wasteful but presumably the cost of customising was prohibitive, so ‘off the shelf’ was the only (but still not cheap!) option. Reliance on the USA for equipment may not be to everyone’s taste, but its affordable (just) and it works. Perhaps the more sensible thing would have been to join the programme sooner and perhaps get more input for UK industry.

  8. Had the MRA4 actually made it into service and got through the significant list of remaining test points that still had to be cleared (considerable additional cost), we would have ended up with a perfect storm of expense for years to come, it would have been the gift that keeps on giving.

    Without doubt it would have been exceptionally capable, but building a bespoke fleet of 9 aircraft is absolutely barking mad, just insane.

    If anyone is to blame, its Labour, who should have pulled the plug on this deeply flawed project years earlier and joined the P8 program at an early stage.

    Even the centre wing boxes differed from airframe to airframe, the cost of upgrading and maintaining the 9 aircraft over the next 20 years would have been eye watering, great for BAE Systems, dreadful for the Tax payer.

    Had we tried to build an Airbus derivative to replace Nimrod, well guys, I think we all know we’re that one would go … Huge expense … very, very late … all to re-invent the wheel and basically build a P8 look a like!

    I would love for us to be able to build our own European solution, but with such a small combined European demand for high end Anti Submarine aircraft, its not economically viable.

    Buying the P8, with stock US Systems and weapons was absolutely the right thing to do, we just need to buy a few more when we can afford it and a big enough stock of weapons to operate the aircraft effectively.

  9. BAE wanted £50m a year to support the 9 MRA4 aircraft, this would have been in addition to any RAF support costs and BAE supplied modifications/upgrades.

  10. Upgrades Mike, BAE Systems would have rode that gravy train all the way to the Station for the next 30 years…..

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