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.


  1. ‘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?

    • 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.

    • 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 anymore. The whole situation makes me sick

    • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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 wings were designed (with modern design technology) but they wouldn’t fit any of the aircraft because they were all different.

      What airframe would you have chosen? The only Existing British design that cam close was the BAe 146 and it isn’t big enough.

      In the interim, we have no Maritime Patrol.

      This purchase is the result of terrible planning.

    • 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 frame and the other important thing is that the P-8 works and is operational with the US navy, India and Australia. BAe should not have gone with upgrading the Nimrod they should have modified an airframe that was suitable.

    • 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!

    • 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 on destroying British self Reliance in Return for the Ponzy money go Round.It makes me physically sick dont you agree?

    • 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 grounded the problems may have left it ground for good if an answer could be found.
      3 Each Nimrod was built by hand when they were first built, and the new wings simply didnt fit by as much as 2″ and each one had to be custom built to each airframe which increased cost and complexity of the project.

      I dont see how you could fix these problems without pouring billions more into the project, think what we could have purchased for £3.6 billion maybe we wouldnt have had to gut the RAF, Navy and the army in the 2010 SDR, we could have ordered more aircraft, boats or tanks or to it put simply we could have brought another Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier this is the sort of money you are talking.

    • 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 and efficiency constraints but alas Im not in government so its down to thieves and London Stock Exchange Yuppies to decide what the will and wont do.

    • 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?

    • 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 enough, another £3 or £4 billion and after you have done that and the project still doesn’t work what then? Another couple of billion? Ryan, I did read your other comments and found them to imply nothing more than we should not have brought American. After the cancellation of the Nimrod program there wasn’t any other realistic option if we had started a new we would be looking at a capability gap over 10 years+ while the system was developed the P-8 program has been in development since 2000.

    • 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?

    • 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 been going on for decades.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      We’re not Iran or Venezuela. We can actually make informed and sensible defence procurement decisions and protect our national interest (at the same time. Forgot to add that bit!)

    • 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 inefficiencies like it or not.

    • 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 of work creation was passed over to the Nimrod 2000 with the government deciding to use old airframes (same as the VC10) but to then build a modified wing assembly to cater for the new engines. Anyone who has been involved with a ‘D’ check will tell you the amount of work involved and this was a ‘D’ + corrosion control and life extension for the airframe. I would guess that the money, time and effort involved in just bringing the airframe to a serviceable state far exceeded the cost of a new build Nimrod airframe (remember they had the production jigs) and thats without the new wings which in many cases did not fit the old poorly toleranced airframe. Spares for the new Nimrod would have made keeping this aircraft in service very expensive for the RAF. The cost of cycling spares through a workshop is expensive and finding spares for a 55 year old airframe considerably adds to costs. So while the Nimrod was a great aircraft, the P8 will certainly not be any worse and will in time be better at a lower cost to the UK and the RAF.

  2. 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

  3. 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 in to a super market and see price of an item pick it up only to find when got to the check out it had trebled in price but thats how the defence industry works.

    When the Nimrod MRA-4 was scrapped it still had over 700 design non-compliances these ranged from bomb bay doors functioned properly, whether its landing gear worked and, most worryingly, whether its fuel pipe was safe, significant aerodynamic issues and associated flying control concerns in certain regimes of flight meant that it was grounded at the time of cancellation and may not have been signed over as safe by the Military Aviation Authority.

    When the program was cancelled in 2010 in SDR the program was £789 million over budget and nine years late.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 it.

  7. 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 😡

  8. 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 once an enemy has rendered inoperable 19 warships and less than 150 fighters we are defenceless.

    4. Poor management across the board has facilitated this perfect storm that saw our forces operating in Afghanistan with second rate kit that was constantly upgraded at vast cost through UOR’s, the clearest sign yet that the forces equipment is not fit for purpose.

    5. All the above conspires to diminish the UKs manufacturing capability to the point where everything is bespoke and costs a fortune therefore necessitating importing from the US.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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… show some patriotism and keep your ruddy costs down.

  12. 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. I have witnessed first hand a “system” as described and the total lack or preparedness to be accountable even when shown the error of it’s ways.One of the government tricks in revealing total expenditure on projects is to change the contract name or number so never revealing total expenditure ,particularly when in the end of it all one ends up with nothing to show for said expenditure. Many examples available RN and RAF but an old one was TSR2 plus F111 cancellation costs plus Phantoms to bridge the gap.

  13. 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.


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