A Royal Air Force P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft has flown from its base at Kinloss Barracks this morning to support Border Force Operations in the English Channel, say the Ministry of Defence.
The Poseidon made its operational debut last week tracking a Russian warship near the UK coast, it is now looking for dinghies.
The task was previously performed by an A400M Atlas transport aircraft as reported here.
A Shadow R1 surveillance aircraft is also being used, something we also reported on earlier.
The Ministry of Defence said in a statement:
“The Defence Secretary has also authorised the use of the Shadow R1 aircraft. Both the P-8 Poseidon and the Shadow R1 will provide further essential support to the UK Border Force over the coming weeks subject to weather conditions and the Border Force’s requirements. The aircraft will track vessels and pass information to the Border Force who will then take any appropriate further action. This task was initially undertaken on Monday by an Atlas A-400M aircraft, which flew from RAF Brize Norton to provide surveillance over the Channel.”
Group Captain Chris Layden, Station Commander RAF Lossiemouth, said in the above statement:
“The Home Office has requested support and the RAF has responded quickly again with the deployment of a Poseidon MRA1 aircraft, flown by a team of personnel from RAF Lossiemouth. The aircraft has significant range and endurance, as well as the ability to support command and control and search and rescue operations, should the Border Force or UK Coastguard require it.”
According to the statement from the Ministry of Defence, this is part of a package of assistance from the Ministry of Defence to the Home Office “as they tackle small boats crossing in the Channel“.
What is the P-8 Poseidon?
The P-8 Poseidon, developed by Boeing, is designed to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with an electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) role. This involves carrying torpedoes, anti-ship missiles and other weapons.
The history of the aircraft dates back to June 2004, when the US Navy announced the selection of the Boeing multimission maritime aircraft, 737 MMA, and awarded a contract to Boeing for the system development and demonstration phase of the programme for the US Navy’s next-generation maritime surveillance aircraft. The aircraft was given the designation P-8A in March 2005.
Poseidon contains up to 7 crew computer consoles in its cabin, has an electro-optical and infrared sensor turret, a maritime surveillance radar and signal intelligence system. Its radar is capable of detection, classification and identification of ships, small vessels and surfaced submarines.
It also has coastal surveillance capability meaning that the Poseidon can be used for search and rescue operations.
The UK has ordered nine of the aircraft at a cost of £2.5 billion pounds and has recieved two of them so far.