Boeing has been awarded an almost $2.5 billion contract to produce 19 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the US Navy, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Ten of the aircraft are for the US Navy, four for the UK and five for Norway.

The UK intends to procure 9 of the aircraft in total and had already ordered five. This purchase brings the total UK order of P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft up to 9.

An attempt at CGI of a British P-8 courtesy of the RAF website.

According to the contract award notification:

“The Boeing Co., Seattle, Washington, is awarded a $2,458,707,154 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-14-C-0067).

This modification provides for the production and delivery of 19 P-8A lot 10 aircraft to include 10 for the Navy, four for the government of the U.K. and five for the government of Norway.  In addition, this modification includes engineering change proposal 4 SilverBlock for the government of the U.K. and Lot 10 segregable efforts consisting of unknown obsolescence, Class I change assessments and obsolescence monitoring.

Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington (80.6 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (2.6 percent); Greenlawn, New York (2.4 percent); Cambridge, U.K. (1.6 percent); and various locations within and outside the continental U.S. (12.8 percent),and is expected to be completed in March 2022.  Fiscal 2019 aircraft procurement (Navy); and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) funds in the amount of $2,458,707,154 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

This modification combines purchases for the  Navy ($1,256,865,203; 51 percent); the government of Norway ($694,971,086; 28 percent); and the government of the U.K. ($506,870,865; 21 percent), under the FMS program.”

A P-8 in British livery, courtesy of the MoD.

Designated Poseidon MRA Mk.1 in British service, the first Poseidon will enter service in November this year with initial operating capability to be achieved in 2020.

in 2017, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States signed a statement of intent for a trilateral partnership with P-8 Poseidon aircraft to address the ‘changing security environment’ in the North Atlantic.

While the statement is relatively vague, the move is seen as part of an effort to coordinate the deployment of the maritime patrol aircraft. This is a move that has been described as essential, due to the relatively small fleet sizes the UK and Norway are to possess.

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Cam hunter

Less than 100 million per plane, seems like an ok price for what the plane is. We should order the other 7 in the next batch, no doubt USA will be ordering more.


Crazy, how much did we spend on Nimrod, something like £3.8bn. We could had 20 Poseidon’s and still saved £1.8bn, infact £2.9bn if you include the cost of the 9 we had to purchase after pissing away so much money on Nimrod.

I bet the idiots in charge of that contract are still in a job collecting a 6 figure pay cheque plus the rest.


Ah but Nimrod 2000 was a work creation excercise and I honestly believe it was a continuation of policy from previous governments who did the same with the phantom, Nimrod AEW, VC10, RR/Apache and the Nimrod 2000. Pump $$ into a project to keep jobs and provide indirect subsidies for companies without falling foul of competition rules. We can slag off our government but we don’t know the full story and often we look at it through blinkered eyes, ignoring the billions pumped into our own UK companies to keep them afloat. I witnesed first hand the money wasted on… Read more »


I’m not against supporting industries and defense projects if it has the potential to generate exports and future growth but so many of these projects are money being pumped into a dead end. The airtanker developed by airbus is an example of a great project that support UK jobs and exports I just don’t understand why it was not applied to maritime reconasaince and aew where France and Germany have the same requirements.

The MR4 program was 800 million over budget, 800 million!


Robert – I wasn’t defending the policy, I was simply pointing out that what we see as just plain incompetence could be an attempt to ‘do the right thing’.


At less than £100m each they seem like a very good value defence asset and we really ought to order more. Especially as it can function in multiple roles.

Cam Hunter

What work is done in Cambridge? It says 1.1% work is done there. And what engineering changes “4 silver block ” engineering proposed changes for uk?. Maybe we should order the other 7 with the next USA batch, we actually need them and a government committee states we need a minimum of 16 planes.

Steve M

Fuel tanks I believe.

The minimum is 21 if you do the on task/range and roles sums for the UK area of operations notwithstanding UK overseas commitments.

David Flandry

That is the number originally planned, 21. Then it dropped to 18, then 12, then 9. I guess to keep it in line with the declining defense budget. Meanwhile the number of submarines in the world is at the highest ever.

The trilateral concept makes eminent sense and this concept could be expanded into other areas of defence where applicable.

If we bought the Holland class OPV for T31 we could buy 3 to 4 more P8. I mean 9? What sort of number is 9? 🙂


“What sort of number is 9?”

9 is a composite number… 😉

It’s also square too. 🙂

I am never sure what is the target availability of these modern large aircraft. I have a vague remembering of 5 for 1. But I think they use an airline style maintenance regimen now. We need “two” for the UK. But it would be nice to have one that could follow the carrier………..

The Holland does everything we want T31 to do. We just need to call it a sloop and have done…….

David E Flandry

The sum of three prime numbers? And too small a number for the UK.


So we need to buy another 7? Sounds about right ?

The MR4 program was 800 million over budget, 800 million!

Better than zero.


Shows how bad the waste of £3 billion in MRA4 was, we could have had 30 for the same price. No doubt if we had got in early on the P8 program we could have had a substantial workshare and input into the program. No idea what the MOD were smoking the day they signed off on MRA4.


MRA4 would likely have been better than the P8. The big issues were that the MOD kept changing their minds on the specs so they had to keep redesigning the aircraft! If they had mapped out a proper spec and then stuck to it then the cost would have been a huge amount lower. It was poor management not poor engineering.


It was incompetence from industry and government. The original air frames where not built to a common standard so did not fit the wings. As soon as this was identified (which should have been immediately) the project should have been scrapped as it would have been clear a brand new commercial air frame would have been much cheaper to procure. It still boggled my brain that BAE and Airbus did not team up for this contract only an idiot would even suggest re manufacturing a 50 year old aircraft when off the shelf ones are so much cheaper and more… Read more »

Nick Bowman

If the article is correct, a Poseidon costs about the same as a Boeing 737 airliner. Surely, the UK can (and should) procure more.


Apparently General Atomics is looking at producing a maritime version of the new Protector UAV that the U.K. is buying. They believe it could supplement the Poseidon’s in their role.

Cam Hunter

Even Australia is buying 3 more than the UK!

Patrick O'Neill

A quick check shows the UK operated 35 of the predecessor aircraft, Nimrod MR2. Appreciate numbers were decided at the height of the Cold War and the current Boeing is vastly more capable. The numbers of P-8’s are tiny in comparison, particularly when only a few will operational at any one time.

captain P Wash.

More would be better, I think we all agree about that but Norway and the USA have them too , Which probably forms part of the MOD/Government thought process.


Perhaps the French might be interested to replace their old Atlantics. They have a lot of maritime airspace to cover in the Pacific and Africa. I doubt it though. Will probably be an Airbus based replacement


There is some good footage on the YouTube of Atlantiques dropping LGB’s. Something ‘satisfying’ about a large propeller dropping ordnance.

Typical MoD procurement. Buy foreign when we should go domestic. Buy domestic when we should go foreign.

I don’t see Airbus as a natural partner for our MPA considering the relationship between the USN and RN.

That was a reply to a post further up. The comment system is here is a joke.

captain P Wash.

Yup, It’s not the Easiest site to post Replies.

I know I seem dumb, but what are these for? Do they carry missiles etc?


Once again fabulous value for money. We really should be taking advantage of some really good pricing on these products. A new Apache at £20m each is a bargain as is the P8 at £100m. Why cant we buy more P8’s and then have Saab fit them out with their Global eye system, surely the best of both worlds. Don’t mind if its wedgetail either, but seems we could have an all in asset with a bit of additional spend. With £2bn assigned to E3 replacement, perhaps 20 of these, 10 MPA and 10 for Global eye…. how about that… Read more »

John Clark

Well, I would say 12 would be an acceptable minimum, with 18 the sensible number of P8’s for the RAF.

It’s interesting to note the conflicting views here on the MR4A.

On paper, it was a fabulous aircraft, way ahead of everything else, by a country mile…

Having known a few people involved in the program, make no mistake, it was an enormous muck up from start to its misrable and sad end…

Manifest engineering, management and governmental issues.

The whole program should have been binned within the first 18 months, when the enormous and hugely expensive engineering requirements became blinding apparent.

In this day and age you can’t afford airframes whose build tolerances parallel those of Series of Land Rovers.




About the same cost as one f35 amazing

John M

Some of the comments here are like comparing apples and oranges. The RAF wanted its replacement MPA to have the same performance as the Nimrod Mk2, part of which was to operate and drop weapons at low level. The P8 is not designed to do that. It has to operate at medium to high altitude because of its wing design. A compromise the MoD is willing to take for the very good price. But it’s always UK industry that has to try first and suffer. Same with the ridiculous requirements for the Nimrod AEW before MoD bought Sentry.

More a comparison of tangerines and oranges……….we are still looking at MPA to do surveillance, ASW, and ASuW…..

I wonder if A400m would have been a better starting point? Drones might be able to do some of the work, but not all of it. Perhaps we need more hulls in the water too? Be they frigates, submarines, or T-AGOS hulls…..

John Clark

In response to John’s post, very good point. The Nimrod was a wonderful aircraft, it was far above the competition and the MR44 was supposed to be a 21 century reinvention of that superb Cold war aircraft. The requirement was originally for 25 and had none of the subsequent serious engineering issues come about, then the RAF would have had an incredibly capable and useful asset, well able to take on a wife variety of roles from maritime to overland strike, with excellent intelligence gathering capability too.. Can you imagine how useful it would have been over Syria, loaded with… Read more »

John M Have you told the Australians et al about the operating limitations of the wings on the P8. They all require low level operation in their surveillance and attack roles. Where do you get your information from. I expect the recommendations on altitude are based on the most efficient operating heights not limitations.


Didn’t the voyagers cost about twice that?

captain P Wash.

Ken, Twice the Size !!!!

anybody know the type of sonic processor to be fitted to the uk poseidon? could it be the AQS903 as fitted to the Merlin? a
Also theres the millions of sonobuoys that will be dispenced over the lifespan, all made by Ultra at £200-£2000 a pop?. We might get our money back, AND then of course theres the torpedoes? stingray or Mk 48s?


What I understood is that we would need to buy the US sonobuoys as the British ones were not compatible and fixing that wouldn’t up the cost and increase the capability gap.


Because of the Med/High altitude operating area we will need to buy US torpedoes and High Altitude Launch Wing kits for them. The torpedo known as a Mk 54 Hybrid (bastardised in everyone else’s book) is a back end 1960s era Mk46 with a new processor/sonar on the front end from a Mk 50 I was recently on a DDG51 watching a STWS load with the same weapon. It made me all nostalgic to see what is almost a Mk 46 again! The UK switched to Stingray in the mid to late 80s…now in my book we are taking a… Read more »

Has there be any mention of STWS for T26? Can’t remember.


Not heard anything about the Air Weapons Magazine layout actually. I doubt an MTLS solution will happen with in magazine tubes as is the case on a T23…that was a nightmare to use. If they go for a STWS fit you either have 3 tubes each side and no reloads ( fire them and its gone) or you need to put a resupply route in place. Resupply is ok but you need people to do it. It used to take 6 people 20-40 mins to do a reload from magazine rack into a tube. You will also need all the… Read more »

Mr Bell

Who would have thought we would all be breathing a sigh of relief that the money has actually been paid to procure the f9inal 4 aircraft to bring the RAF maritime patrol aircraft fleet back up to all 9 aircraft.
It is a token force only but at least we have 9 aircraft now on order. albeit at an anaemic, lethargic build and delivery rate.
The UK is going to need to order at least another 6 aircraft to deliver a reasonable MPA force level- especially as our maritime EEZ is so large and with Brexit around the corner.


“Brexit around the corner”……which corner would that be?

Seeing comments re Nimrod etc, the problem is that sometimes both the military and civil service will dig in and not move, when something else is suggested. They are also not very open to smart ideas etc.
On a number of occasions, I have seen a blinkered response to a suggestion from industry as a better/novel way of doing something, or insisting that they want X at all cost without looking at the total costs or delays etc.