The P-8 Poseidon is an aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations. It is a derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800.

The following excerpt comes from this notification.

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for P-8A Aircraft and associated equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.2 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on March 24, 2016.

The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has requested notification for the possible procurement of up to nine (9) P-8A Patrol Aircraft, associated major defense equipment, associated training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.2 billion.

The UK is a close ally and an important partner on critical foreign policy and defense issues. The proposed sale will enhance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the UK’s capabilities to provide national defense and contribute to NATO and coalition operations.

The proposed sale will allow the UK to re-establish its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability that it divested when it cancelled the Nimrod MRA4 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) program. The United Kingdom has retained core skills in maritime patrol and reconnaissance following the retirement of the Nimrod aircraft through Personnel Exchange Programs (PEPs). The MSA has remained the United Kingdom’s highest priority unfunded requirement. The P-8A aircraft would fulfill this requirement. The UK will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.”

The UK P-8s are also to perform search-and-rescue missions and conduct overland reconnaissance. Deliveries of the P-8’s are to begin before 2020. Whether the aircraft will carry UK weapons and sonobuoys has yet to be decided. It is also unclear whether the UK will have access to future ground-surveillance capabilities being developed for the P-8.

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Michael Hynes

‘The UK will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.’

Might have a problem refuelling them mid-air though. How hard could it possibly be to install a dual probe and boom receiver system, as seen on the RAF E-3s?


How often were Nimrods refueled? Answer: never.

Simon P Richardson

What we are getting the the most highly advanced maritime patrol aircraft that will be worth it’s weight in gold.
I agree that we should never have scrapped nimrod but it has Been scrapped so theres no point going over it continuously we should be happy that the government has been wise enough to realise what a mistake they made

Ryan Lockwood

Hahaha ffs the Nimrods they destroyed during the 2012 Strategic Defence ‘Review’ cost cutting exercise would have been just as good if not better.

Greg Holden

I’d take a closer look as to why they were scrapped. Chris Albutt (comment above) touches on the Nimrod debacle.

Ryan Lockwood

Even with all that though they were fully built and ready to become operational.

UK Defence Journal

Oh no, they certainly were not, they would in all likelihood still not be ready for service today.

Greg Holden

They were not even close.

James Bartlett

At last Farnborough airshow there were RAF crew who were on exchange on the P8 one off them told me some crew who flew on the newer nimrods said they were better then the P8 whilst some think the P8 was better.

Ryan Lockwood

So what we just throw in the towel and buy off of the Yanks instead? Get rid of Engineering and Innovation capabilities? I agree Companies such as BAE need a boot up the arse to produce better and more efficient projects as well as the MOD having a policy in place that has oversight of such processes but to just simply buy equipment in ,damn its dishonorable, wheres the pride and principle gone? We might as well just be another Sell out country, oops I forgot we sadly already are, we dont even make our own medals for our Soldiers… Read more »

Ian Petrie

I’m sure that the Nimrod is a far better aircraft for the job, but what is the point of that if the costs are horrendously overrun and the damned thing isn’t in the air!? It was a horrible decision, but the right one.

Will the P8 have British sonar and radars onboard?

Ryan Lockwood

Ian Petrie It wont do, this government would rather buy on the cheap and rely on other nations, primarily the US’s Military Industrial Capabilities to fill in the mess they’ve created,what a sad state of affairs our Military is in.

Greg Holden

I think you misunderstand. The project was never really feasible. You have a hand built 1950-60’s airframe (God knows how many hours already on them). Modern design is about specifics. It has changed dramatically. Ironically I was talking to an old engineer from, as it was then BAC, he only retired 5 years ago from BAe Systems. Even with the Tornado being hand built, every aircraft is different. Luckily, with modern design/manufacturing every Typhoon is the same (OK, different mods etc). With the Nimrod, you had one technology suite being fitted to , what is essentially, 21 different aircraft. New… Read more »

Daz Vallis

Ryan Lockwood maybe you need to actually do some research away from the Daily Mail!

Daz Vallis

The Nimrod had failed it’s mandatory airworthiness certificate meaning it was over due, over budget and unsafe to operate!

Chris Albutt

Ryan Lockwood its not a case of that the program had cost £3.6 billion and was massively over budget and didnt work what you going to do keep throwing money at till it did or finally walk away? It may never have been signed off as safe to fly by the MAA then what would happen? it cant do its role whilst its stuck on the ground. What we have done is walk away and purchase a platform that will be in the long run cheaper to operate as the a lot of spares out the for the 737 air… Read more »

Ryan Lockwood

Has anyone even read anything I said? I agree that the Nimrod Project was way over budget, my point being we should resist all attempts to become solely reliable on imports.Look around you this Government doesn’t give a shit about our Security apparatus or the men its intended for. They are money men, men of no pride or Principle!

Ryan Lockwood

The purchase of the P-8s is just another plaster to be stuck over a gun shot wound in terms of British Military Industrial Capability.On the face of it it looks as though its mismanagement which it is in part due to ,but look at the bigger picture, Government ministers have KNOWINGLY let this happen ,why? Because it means we buy more from US Military Industrial Companies making us beholden to imports and short term cheap purchases. More for the Coffers of the Yanks and Nothing in return for us. Its disgusting that successive governments have for decades now being hellbent… Read more »

Chris Albutt

Ryan perhaps if BAe had managed to bring the program in on time on budget and it worked then the case may be different. Ryan instead of rubbishing the choice that have been made you could say what you thoughts are on the following points:- 1 The aircraft was over budget by £780 million and had cost £3.6 billion when it cancelled. 2 It didn’t work properly and had 700 design non-compliances some major some not, but main at the time was the flight control system didn’t work as it should which made unsafe and all of the aircraft were… Read more »

Ryan Lockwood

Chris Albutt 1 Dont begin to sound Patronising 2. Im agreeing with you. 3. Its obvious the Government would rather sell out and be reliant on other Military Industrial Supplies, pointing towards the fact that successive governments have made such contracts ‘inefficient’. Its what they do ‘oh look ,this is inefficient, time to sell up and go somewhere else’. 5 You obviously didn’t read any of my other comments. Personally I would have carried on with attributing money towards the Nimrod Project (As painful as an experience it might have been) and then started anew with greater oversight and budgetary… Read more »

Paul Jones

The P8 is basically a 737 so parts are freely available, cheap in comparison and the air frames are brand new. It will be easier to maintain, much less difficult to train pilots and crew and be a lot cheaper to run as it only has 2 engines which are highly efficient. . What’s not to like?

Chris Albutt

What would you have done when the MAA had refused to give it an airworthiness certificate? BAe had promised to fix the problems there has got to be a point that you cant chuck good money after bad and you have to walk away or you run the risk of being in the situation you were with the Nimrod AEW3 again another project that was a complete waste of money and resulted in us having to buy from elsewhere so we didn’t have a capability gap, how much money do have to give to a program for you to say… Read more »

Greg Holden

The Nimrod, in hindsight, was a waste of money from the beginning. There is a reason why we don’t produce solely indigenous military aircraft anymore: Price and market.

I have asked this before; name the last solely British military aircraft. And in what year did it first fly?


Taranis, 2013.

Ryan Lockwood

I give up trying to explain this to you and no its not a case of not buying from the Yanks,its a case of fundamentals, do we want to continue being a sellout of a nation or do we try and be self sufficient? This whole argument of well its inefficient stinks (and yes it is Inefficient when it came to the Nimrod Programme and continues to be so on other projects, im in agreeance with you ) but I truly believe they’re ulterior political motives going on behind the scene’s to dumb down British Industrial Military Capacity and its… Read more »

Greg Holden

We just can’t afford it. The last all British miIitary aircraft to enter service was the Hawk, it first flew in 1974. If we want to stay in the forefront of tech, we have to either buy elsewhere or joint develop.

Peter Vine

So what do we do Ryan? Pay money which we can’t afford out of pride? That’s almost as dangerous as throwing out any semblance of self sufficiency altogether. There is simply no such thing as being self sufficient. No country is able to completely design and manufacture on their own any more. Even the F-35 is being jointly developed and relies on overseas orders to make it affordable to the Americans! This isn’t 1914 anymore. We simply can’t rustle up an extra hundred billion here and there just to satisfy some infantile little Englander fantasy of so called self sufficiency.… Read more »

Alan Radisic

Nimrod better than P8? Wtf… pmsl.. your aving a giraffe!!!!

Paul Jones

We’re in the Club so why not buy a ready made jobbie off the Yanks? They bought the Harrier off us.. and are also buying brimstone.

Ryan Lockwood

Peter Vine Why would you assume I was a little Englander? Ive never said we should close off ourselves to other countries, what im advocating is us being self sufficient.Obviously you must be ok with the sell out state well currently find ourselves in. Look at China, Russia, the US they’re powerful Because they aim to be self sufficient in all areas of capabilities, meanwhile us, we run off and beg other nations for their equipment and logistics. Spivs and London Stock Exchange Yuppies interceded with Government ministers are to blame for the state of our current British Military Capability… Read more »

David Southern

IMHO, the P8 will be a great aircraft; the 737 aircraft is a nice aircraft to work with and the systems have matured nicely. But, the big mistake with the Nimrod was not creating new builds with modified jigs at closer tolerances. UK governments went through a period of work creation in order to keep core skills in the UK; while this was well meaning it just squandered billions of pounds which would have been committed to our armed services. I was working as part of the VC10 programme in the 90’s and could see this at first hand.The policy… Read more »

Iain Morrison

I still think the Kawasaki P-1 would have been a better choice.

William Franklin

I agree, the P-1 is designed specifically as an MPA and not just a modified airliner.

David Curno

Our cousins wouldn’t have liked that much though Iain ?

Iain Morrison

Haha, true!

Mark Sayers

But it might make the 1200 Boeing UK employees happier

Paul Hodson

It would be easier to modify four or so Voyagers with the boom refueling system than 9 P8 and 3 RC135s.

Chris Albutt

What they should have done is gone with a completely new airframe such modifying an airliner same way the US have done instead of trying to upgrade an old airframe that was built by hand when no 2 were alike. This would have given alot more flexibility and there would a lot of spare parts out which would have reduced the operating costs. Yet another case of thinking cheap which in the long run isnt. And the defence industry say it will cost y and then mid way through you find its really going to cost x. You wouldn’t walk… Read more »

Brian Hastwell

I think the RAAF has ordered 8 P-8’s as well..

Ray Seppala

Brain, The RAAF now has 12 P-8s on order with another 3 to be ordered later on to bring in the fleet up to 15 aircraft by the mid 2020s (according to the recently released Defence White Paper). The first RAAF airframe will be delivered by the end of this year.

Kevin Calderbank

Should be handed over to the FAA to conduct maritime missions

Daz Vallis

Why? The FAA has never operated Britain’s LRMPA capability and mores to the point it has never asked to

Kevin Calderbank

I suppose it’s in the name “maritime patrol”. The US Navy run their MPA’s so why not the Royal Navy. How do you know the Navy has ” never ” asked?

Paul Linfield

The FAA are specialists in operating from ships and carriers. MPA does NOT do that.

Kevin Calderbank

You mean the FAA are like the US Navy equivalent… Yet the US Navy operate the P8? The FAA work with the fleet, know naval procedures, it makes sense to use naval personnel to combat sea borne threats.

Mark L

The RAF has always operated our MPA’s, including throughout the Battle of the Atlantic in WW2, so what is the problem with them continuing to do it Kevin?


Sorry but for British forces, the RAF has conducted maritime patrol since its inception – so all that experience at searching and combatting sea borne threats from patrol like aircraft have been with the RAF for us, much like the RAAF in Australia and the RCAF in Canada, amongst other examples.

Ignoring your rather weak argument “because its in the name”, it will never happen. End of discussion.


That’s why the British coastal command entered WW2 with the obsolete Avro Anson. For the rest of the war, they used US aircraft.

Paul Linfield

No, not really.

Jason Bartlett

I’m just glad we are getting them, people can argue black is white over the nimrod but fact is they were well over budget and we’ll behind schedule.

The government is at lest trying to make amends over the mess that was sdr 2010 so people just need to be thankful that 2015 did not bring more cuts and in fact put extra money into defence.

Steve Brunt

Should have kept the Harriers and modified them 😉

Peter Vine

Should have brought TSR-2 back to do it!!!

Kieran Locke

Nooooooooo lol ?

Brad Williams

It’s a sexy 737

Philip Drury

What ever the costs. The Uk needs to re-establish its military prowess or face the consequences. The age of the wealthy individual needs to end to preserve this nation internationally and domestically too. It is short sightedness of the past 30 years to assume that global and national peace can be achieved by demilitarisation in the UK and if any thing it is about time all concerned woke up to this.

Andrew Casson

Could have rebuilt the entire nimrod fleet, new tooling and service contract for 3.2billio

UK Defence Journal

That worked well last time…

Toby Parr

The high price combines with things like all of the expensive and advanced equipment on board. I doubt they would pay £250 million just for a single air frame. Remember also that single P-8 can monitor “enemy” ships and submarines just like a frigate or destroyer could. So it means that the surface fleet will be freed up, rather them having to dispatch a vessel. It makes more finical and recourse sense to have 2 armed and suitable P-8’s taking it in turns to monitor a vessel, rather then using a £1 Billion air warfare destroyer. to sail next to… Read more »

Chris Glasgow

It’s about time they got something, should of put these in service when they cancelled nimrod,

Sandy Williamson

No wonder our friends across the pond think we have a special friendship.
Yet again they gain through knee jerk actions by politicians guided by self preserving bean counters, and it’s British industry that loses out ?


I think there are a couple of underlying problems here: 1. commitment to a decision to make do and mend instead of buying new. This has seen the vast majority of the equipment budget taken up by maintenance costs. 2. The above also does little to sustain an industrial base as essentially we end up fitting new turrets to 30 year old tanks and IFV’s and undertaking £50m refits on ships every six years that cost £200 to build new. 3. Additionally at some point we decided to purchase supposedly high capability at the cost of volume which means that… Read more »

Rob Burton

Hope we are aquiring 12 or more..


Bae didn’t want to develop Nimrod. They proposed and pushed for an airbus based solution. Some bunch of RAF clots in the MoD thought it would be cheaper just to upgrade Nimrod against the advice of the company that made them. Had an airbus solution been developed, half the western world would be flying them and the UK would be several billions better off financially.

John Read-Hammond

When will these decisions ever be investigated. We binned a perfectly good Nimrod fleet, and chopped them up ffs. Just like the harriers and sea kings. Someone is making a fortune at our expense. There should be just one penalty for dishonesty in public office, the guillotine made with cheap chink iron.

Mark L

The Nimrods were not “perfectly good”, they were a disaster, not even airworthy.


40 percent of all Boeing’s jets are British with regards to their component parts The British aerospace industry is one of the best in the world. The reason for the Nimrod debacle is due to one organisations greed and the failure of a Labour government to project manage. The conservative government kicked BAE in the balls when they cancelled Nimrod as a warning to further procurement projects. Everybody blames the current government but BAE has a huge part to play. These latest jets are a welcome addition and will plug a capability gap that was very concerning. Message to BAE…… Read more »

David Anthony Simpson

You cannot be serious? £250M per aircracft that actually work and are airworthy rather than £4.5Bn on only 3 Nimrod 4s that didn’t? My sarcasm knows no bounds in such circumstances! 🙂


I think what is lost in most of the comments made, irrespective of whether one should buy this or that is that the U K government procurement process for decades has been appalling.Bad project management ,coupled with inept planning included involvement of people with neither technical or strategic experience nor understanding. The billions as it must now amount to that has been spent by successive governments on poorly planned over budget failed projects is shameful. If one was to run a business in such a fashion one would have been bankrupt or in court up on fraud changes long ago.… Read more »


Let’s hope they actually place the order at some point soon.

The decision between this, the nimrod or something else has already been made for better or worse, and is history, time to plug the gap in capability and get the order out.