54 Squadron have received their first P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
The aircraft, ZP801, has been formally handed over to the Royal Air Force. The aircraft will be based at RAF Lossiemouth.
This comes not long after the second Royal Air Force P-8 took to the air for the first time.
Speaking before the event, a Royal Air Force spokesperson said:
“The team from 54 Squadron have received ZP801, which will fly to Naval Air Station Jacksonville tomorrow to be formally handed over to the Royal Air Force.
It will then be maintained by engineers from Poseidon Line Squadron, enabling our pilots and weapons systems operators on CXX Squadron to continue their training prior to the long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to the UK in February!”
The Poseidon is based on the Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, the supply chain for which is already supported by UK industry, providing several hundred direct UK jobs.
UK manufacturers also provide specialist sub-systems for the P-8A, for example Marshalls (auxiliary fuel tanks), Martin Baker (crew seats), GE (Weapon Pylons) and GKN Aerospace (windshields).
The UK is buying 9 of the aircraft in total, however, evidence submitted to the Defence Select Committee argues that seven additional P-8 Poseidon aircraft should be acquired, bringing the total fleet to 16 aircraft.
“SDSR 15 proposed that nine P-8 Poseidon MPA be acquired. At the time, the P-8 was the only MPA on the market capable of meeting the UK’s needs in a reasonable timescale. Given the urgency of filling this acknowledged gap in the Defence Programme, the Government was undoubtedly justified in selecting that aircraft without going out to competition. However, capable though the P-8 may be, the number of aircraft planned is undoubtedly inadequate to fulfil even the highest priority tasks likely to be assigned to the force in tension and hostilities.”
The Royal Air Force say that the P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft will be known as the Poseidon MRA Mk.1 in UK service.