The United States National Defense Authorization Act 2019 has cleared the United States Navy to “acquire property and carry out military construction projects” at RAF Lossiemouth.

According to the act in section 2902:

The Secretary of the Navy may acquire real property and carry out the military construction projects for the installations outside the United States, and in the amounts, set forth in the following table:

Navy: Outside the United States
CountryLocationAmount
GreeceNaval Support Activity Souda Bay$47,850,000
ItalyNaval Air Station Sigonella$66,050,000
SpainNaval Station Rota$21,590,000
UKLossiemouth$79,130,000

It’s likely this is in support of a decision last year for the US to routinely base P-8 Poseidon aircraft in Scotland alongside British aircraft. This is supported by a line later in the act that states:

Navy  LossiemouthEDI: P–8 Base Improvements

The P-8 Poseidon basing agreement was signed last year by Harriett Baldwin, Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement. Some have suggested that this is due to the relatively low numbers to be operated by the UK.

In 2019 the UK will take delivery of its first Poseidon P-8A aircraft and both nations have committed to deepen their defence cooperation when operating in the North Atlantic region.

A press release states:

“Through seeking opportunities to share logistics and support bases and optimise the use of P-8A aircraft, particularly in Europe, the declaration should ensure increased value for money and operational effectiveness.”

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 defense budget and a £178 billion Equipment Plan, the P-8A program will provide us with enhanced surveillance capabilities.”

The MoD had said that 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’ say the US, including at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, where the P-8A will bring some 400 plus jobs.

“The Department of Defense and U.K. Ministry of Defense plan to cooperate closely on operation of their P-8A aircraft in the North Atlantic to ensure a coherent approach to MPA activity.”

Air Commodore Ian Gale, senior responsible owner for the Poseidon P-8A program, said:

“This agreement will enhance the UK’s maritime patrol capability and further strengthen UK-US defence relations. The arrival of the Poseidon P-8A in 2019 will provide the U.K. with significantly increased capabilities and bring hi-tech employment to Scotland and the wider UK.”

48 COMMENTS

  1. Does this “solve” the too few P-8’s story posted before this one? Not for a sovereign asset but it’s arguably THE most NATO role (Northern Flank ASW) that we carry out.

  2. Looks like we are becoming another US military protectorate. We cannot defend ourselves and are relying on another country for significant military support.SHameful!

    What next US aircraft on our two aircraft carriers?
    Ah we have already agreed to that haven’t we.!

    Still we do have lots of well paid MP’s and old duffers sitting in the House of Lords protecting our human rights.

    • Johnf

      On your third paragraph you have my full support and they annoy me. I’d abolish the Lords tomorrow if I could and replace with independent experts from all counties of the UK to advise HMG.

      On the rest we have always relied on the US, which is nothing new especially in a European NATO context.

      We cannot or will not fund enough ourselves so if the opportunity is there to maximise capability in a defensive posture that helps secure our waters and our submarines then why not?

    • Please name a time since the start of the cold war that US aircraft have not been on UK soil?

      We are major world allies and it is as much for the defence of the US as it is for the UK. It is mutually beneficial.

      We can protect ourselves from many threats. However any major conflict would require nations to come together as has been seen many time before.

      Our forces work closely with the US. We have training facilities in the US and we pioneer quite a few tactics that we then train the US special forces in etc.

      We also have bases all around the world in various countries. The US like basing their assets in the UK for many reasons. Some of those reasons are the strategic position Britain holds as a well defended island on within strike distance of Eastern Russia and with access to European shipping channels etc. The UK is also a trustworthy ally and one in which the US personnel can fell reasonably at home.

      The US relies on us just as we rely on the US.

      • Lee1 totally agree, plus their service people spend their money into our local economies too. Aren’t we also having some Norwegian P-8s using Lossiemouth? Another fine ally of ours! It’s when we become Germany and completely abandon our military forces and defence to others we have to worry …

      • Being from the U.S. I must say you are correct. The U.K. not only can defend itself, it is taking measures to project power on a sustained basis. This is vital in the age of a declining super power.

        The American arrogance must end or we will face a horrible fate. Partnerships such as we have with the U.K. is the future. We need to expand them to other countries.

        Having said all of that, I understand the posters fear of having so many U.S. military units about. It is hard to tell the difference between partnership and patronage. For that and other reasons the U.S. should shrink it’s footprint in the world to include only the most vital relationships.

        • The number of US forces in the UK are nothing compared to what was there during the Cold War. The UK-US relationship is surely one of the most vital. Off hand its hard to think of more vital one.

      • The same budget report this article is based on, allocates many millions to upgrade RAF Lakenheath for F-35-A operations. The US plans to base 2 two squadrons of F-35s there (54 aircraft)

      • Think that summarizes well why the US has assets here since 1942. Who would we rather have, them, or……

  3. Considering Brexit is largely about becoming a sovereign nation once again, doesn’t having a foreign power’s military stationed on our lands mean we aren’t sovereign at all? Even if we are letting that power station its military by agreement, and not through force.

    This is nothing against the US, as it has helped this nation numerous times in the past, it’s more about the principal of the matter.

    • Antidote
      The US where here long before we joined the EEC sorry the EU
      Nobody complained then except the ban the bomb brigade

    • Well in that case many nations in the world who are sovereign nations are not as the US military and intelligence community are stationed around the world in numerous non EU nations.

      Take Australia and Japan as just examples.

      We could take that further, Cyprus has a considerable UK presence. No one thinks we still own it do they?

    • Qatar is a sovereign nation and there is a British Base there. Canada is a sovereign nation and we have a base there etc, etc…

      It is not a sovereign issue.

    • (Chris H) antidote – we have had USAF bases here since WWII. But they are called ‘RAF Lakenheath’ for example because they remain British sovereign bases owned by the UK and indeed the CO is an RAF Officer. The USAF are guests on British soil and they respect us greatly for it. They are, for example leaving RAF Mildenhall (although its been delayed) and that base isn’t ‘sold off’ by the USAF when they do. It remains an RAF base. As was RAF Fairford even though it remains a contingency site for the USAF

      Brexit if anything exemplifies our future global influence and having US aircraft based here or US Navy ships and submarines calling in here underscores that. It does not detract from it.

      • I agree Chris but in some cases Sovereign does not mean real oversight.

        Like RAF Menwith Hill. The base is as much RAF as I’m a China man, and is a target for certain groups whom I may add I am NOT in agreement with as it benefits both us and the US and has a sizeable UK contingent too.

        An example of the intelligence sites around the globe the US has which I alluded to to Antidote above. Pine Gap in Australia is another.

        • Daniele – If its an RAF base it has a British CO and all that means. Every F-15 taking off from Lakenheath or KC-135 from Mildenhall will have filed a flight plan with the CO and then UK military air control. No military combat can be launched from any RAF base without RAF (and therefore UK Government) approval. It was why the F-111 strike against Ghaddafi from Lakenheath and Upper Heyford was so significant.

          • Agreed Chris. My point was concerning Menwith only, not air bases. It has no aircraft, yet officially is an RAF station.

      • Yes, I realise that the bases are UK owned, but I always got the impression that the CO of such bases was nothing more than a figurehead to give the impression of being British led.

        Also, what about my question above in regard to foreign bases on US soil? I doubt there are any permanent ones, which it may be argued is because the US doesn’t need any help in its own backyard due to having such a massive military. But I get the impression it’s not only that but also to do with the question of sovereignty, i.e. not true sovereignty, but the implication that having a foreign power on one’s soil makes the country look incapable of defending itself. I suppose that’s what i’m really getting at.

        Just seen DM’s answer.

        • Portions of Holloman AFB have been the Luftwaffe flight training school since 96. While Fort Bliss has hosted the Luftwaffe’s Air Defense School since 1956 for example.
          Foreign personnel in the US are always co-located. Which doesn’t mean much because American bases and their training areas are far more spread out.

          • While not exactly on point with regards to sovereignty but indicative of our close relationship, the US hosted and trained RAF cadets since before our entry into the war in December 7, 1941. I live about 10 miles or so from Falcon Field, which is one of the fields where the RAF trained (also now where the Boeing AH-64 is manufactured).

            https://www.falconfieldairport.com/home/showdocument?id=14400

          • The Singapore Air Force has F-15, F-16 and KC-135 on US soil and the Taiwan Air Force have F-16s based in the US. Canada has members assigned to NORAD in the US. NATO has a training wing at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The Dutch have several F-16s at Tuscon, AZ. The French Navy trains it’s Naval pilots in the USA for carrier ops. I believe the RAF had a Reaper squadron plus on-going F-35 training. Thats just off the top of my head.

    • No my friend. This is simply about positioning adequate NATO allied forces in strategic locations to determine any thoughts of a strike against NATO.
      The UK can still defend itself. US forces have been based in the UK since the end of WW2 for the UKs great strategic location, coverage of the North Sea, English channel and routes out into the wider Atlantic.
      This is good news.
      The RAF still needs to be given funds to order a further 6 P8As though so our total fleet strength is 15+ aircraft. That is a much more viable force level

    • I would rather have the US who are a trusted military partner that share many of our democratic values and uphold a rules based international order.
      Our EU partners are becoming less and less relevant simply because apart from France, they are paper tigers. All growl and no teeth and claws

  4. Funds have been allocated for the U.S. to base P8 in Lossiemouth, not Scotland, if they were to be based in Marham would the headline read U.S. to base P8 in England?

  5. Concerns have been raised about space at Lossimouth.

    With soon to be 4 Squadrons of Typhoon plus the UK P8 fleet and USN P8 it’s going to be busy.

    Why not reactivate Kinloss up the road. It is still an mod site and the runway is used.

  6. Slightly off of subject, but how effective will these planes be at actually detecting enemy submarines and tracking them? And how effective were the Nimrods before them? Are they worth their weight in gold? Have we ever locked onto enemy SSBNs for example, or would that be classified inofmation?

    I’m non-military so bare with me, but I have a real interest in the defence of our nation.

    • The true capabilities of any combat vehicle are a closely guarded secret by HMG as are most anti submarine missions so im afraid one could only answer that question hypothetically. However having said that, the RAF wouldn’t have ordered it had they not deemed it to do its job well and they probably have more access to a lot more information than the regular public.

      • Basically any operational information is classified, so nobody in the know would ever be able to say that they had locked onto an enemy sub. The aircraft is capable of it though.

        • This could have been made up by the US but they have claimed that during the cold war they had a submarine tracking every Russian sub as soon as it left port. There is no reason to believe that isn’t true today given the numerical supremacy of US subs. The real problem comes from China who could easily build 50-60 conventional subs. There is no way they US could afford to track both countries on its own.

  7. This is an interesting question that I’ve not thought through before. An ICBM with a range of 10,000 km fired from a submarine going through the Clyde can hit Vladivostok. In the opposite direction, a missile from Vladivostok can hit Glasgow. A patrol aircraft out of Lossiemouth can not find a sub out of Vladivostok.

    A Russian SSBM does not need to come into the North Atlantic to hit the U.K. Perhaps with a heavy payload and shorter range, passing the GIUK gap is needed to hit the USA. Then the patrol aircraft are protecting the USA. Our SSBN is also out there. If there is a possible contact then there could be a call for help – but that call could reveal the SSBN position. I do now wonder, not about the capability, but the role of the British P-8.

    • Surely it is to primarily to track Russian attack submarines, not the ballistic missile ones? Plus to track surface vessels (the sea is big!) and secondarily to help with search and rescue operations if required.

    • Enemy SSBNs best located by our SSN not MPA. Our subs operated routinely in the Barents Sea and around the Kola on the Cold War.

      MPA like P8 are tracking their SSN interdicting the GIUK gap.

  8. Convoy, merchant ship protection.
    Hunting down enemy SSNs SSKs that break through the GIUK gap. In essence the P8As primary mission is to prevent, deter and if necessary help to win another battle of the Atlantic.
    The Russian’s know any war in Europe would need to be crushing and swift. If NATO read US can deploy their reserves across the Atlantic any Russian attack will stall and then fail.
    The Russian’s know they would have to shut down the Atlantic lifeline. Just like the Germans tried and failed to do in WW2.

  9. One of the geographically largest UK bases is located in…Canada, in the province of Alberta. I doubt Canada feels any impingement on its sovereignty.

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