The MoD plan to have three P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft in service by 2020 it has been revealed.
The P-8 Poseidon, developed by Boeing, is designed to conduct anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and shipping interdiction, along with an electronic signals intelligence role. This involves carrying torpedoes, anti-ship missiles and other weapons.
The following information comes from this response to a written question on the 21st of December 2015.
“The Ministry of Defence is currently engaged in detailed negotiations on the Boeing P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. As the Prime Minister announced to the House on 23 November 2015 (Official Report, column 1059), we intend for at least three of the aircraft to be in place by the end of the Parliament.”
Additionally, it was reported earlier in the year by various sources that the UK is looking at having two US Navy P-8’s, with British crews, operate from the UK in order to bridge the gap between now and when the first P-8’s enter service.
The UK will order 9 Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft to be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
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. The P-8 is fitted with advanced magnetic anomaly detection system for submarine tracking. The Poseidon can be used for search and rescue operations.
According to the US Navy, the aircraft in US service carries lightweight Raytheon Mk54 anti-submarine torpedoes. It may also carry other torpedoes, missiles, free-fall bombs, depth charges, mines, or sonbuoys in its weapon bay. Air-to-surface and air-to air missiles, such as Harpoon anti-ship missiles, SLAM or AGM-65 Maverick land attack missiles, and AIM-9 Sidewinders or AIM-120 AMRAAMs will be carried on the under wing hard-points.
It has been speculated that the UK may elect to integrate Storm Shadow on the aircraft, as it had planned to do with Nimrod prior to the cancellation of the aircraft.