The Mk 54 Torpedo is so far the only weapon that has been cleared for use on the aircraft in British service.

The information came to light from the response to a written parliamentary question:

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what armaments are the UK P-8 permitted to carry as of 4 January 2022.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, responded:

“As at 4 January 2022 the Poseidon MRA1 has been cleared for Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare and Search and Rescue in support of submarines. It is assisted in these roles by its sophisticated suite of radar and data gathering equipment. The Mk 54 Torpedo has been cleared for use on the aircraft.”

Currently, no British weapon has been cleared for usage on the aircraft but it’s hoped that will change in future.

Back in 2018, a $40 million contract was awarded for the production of MK54 Mod 0 lightweight torpedo kits for the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Taiwan.

“Progeny Systems has been awarded a $40,601,413 cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee, fixed-price-incentive-fee contract for the production of MK54 Mod 1 lightweight torpedo kits and related test equipment, spares, and engineering and hardware support services.”

Back in 2016, then Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said:

“The Department intends to bring the P-8A into service without significant modification to ensure the delivery of operational capability as soon as is practicable. There are no current plans to integrate Stormshadow or other UK manufactured weapons onto the aircraft.”

The P-8 itself is able to conduct anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and shipping interdiction along with an electronic signals intelligence role. Undertaking this roles would require the aircraft (in British service as the Americans already do this) to be cleared to carrying various missiles and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
49 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Trevor
Trevor
3 months ago

So that’s another bit of shiny new kit with zero ASuW capability. Especially bearing in mind the much touted “pivot to Asia”, does nobody in the MoD think that the ability to deal with hostile surface warships is a relevant/vital requirement?

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral
3 months ago
Reply to  Trevor

Surely this is a good reason to buy a few updated Harpoon ( I assume the thing is cleared for Harpoon?) Replace the old ones on the warships, and be able to carry some on The Possies. When we get a shiny new anti-ship weapon then the Harpoons can just go on the P8’s.
There should be a censor to monitor Mod bulletins and stop them saying things like “cleared for anti-surface warfare” when we have no weapons suitable to prosecute these surface targets, as it SOUNDS like they are armed for it.
AA

maurice10
maurice10
3 months ago

Another slow fuse procurement. Hopefully, they will bristle with weaponry in the not too distant future?

Bill
Bill
3 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

When has any British platform ‘bristled’ with weaponry??? Fitted for not bloody with, is the mantra of the MOD!

Crabfat
Crabfat
3 months ago

The Boeing site says it’s armed with Harpoons and torpedoes. The US Navy site says torpedoes and cruise missiles.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Trevor

To be honest with the very small number we have I’m not sure the U.K. P8s will be doing anything other than ASW work in the U.K. home waters, North Sea and North Atlantic.

Although I did think the P8s were being cleared for Anti ship missiles by the US, so if we needed to we could tag on to that.

Rob N
Rob N
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The Harpoon is out of date and it is doubtful it would be effective in small numbers against a modern defence system.

the UK P8 is identical to US ones as they are taken from the same production line. The US P8s are cleared for Harpoon.

However it would make more sense to attack armed surface targets with dedicated attack jets, Typhoon, F35.

i should hope the mew Stingray replacement will be cleared for the P8 and RN.

Niall
Niall
3 months ago
Reply to  Trevor

The P8 has some very good ASuW capabilities, just not the capability to conduct strikes.

Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty
3 months ago
Reply to  Trevor

Exactly, imagine how many JSMs an aircraft this large could carry.

Jack K
Jack K
3 months ago

Is there any more news on the harpoon replacement?

Last I heard, it sounded like it was going to get cancelled, which seems like a big mistake as you never know when we might need them.

RobW
RobW
3 months ago
Reply to  Jack K

The interim ASM has been cancelled. We are looking at FC/ASW to replace Harpoon. Dates seems to a be a little up in the air but 2028 – 2030 seems to be the target. Lets hope MBDA is getting on with the design work despite the UK/France political issues.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  RobW

Same as the two militaries. Macron’s on borrowed time anyway.

Lordtemplar
Lordtemplar
3 months ago

Not the biggest issue since the aircraft’s main mission is sub hunter, although having it would be better. I am sure it will have Perseus antiship in the future, not sure there will be an interim solution, unless MoD orders Harpoons or modernizes existing stocks. Biggest immediate priority are ships. It seems crazy to me that T26 and T31 could be without this capability. Because heli + Sea Venom/Martlet only works for small ships, fairly useless vs a frigate or corvette. As for aerial platform antiship I would like to see RAF F35 and Typhoon equipped with antiship missile ASAP… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Lordtemplar
Steve M
Steve M
3 months ago
Reply to  Lordtemplar

Should buy some NSM/JSM, we all know that FC/ASW will never be here when they say it will, there is also a VL-JSM being developed so would be option if our new Wunder missile doesn’t appear ever.

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve M

JSM is only a 100m range weapon, long term yeah would appear far too short range ,putting the surface fleet in danger and depending on the type of target any aircraft carrying it.
Not sure why you think FCASW won’t appear, there is no other option for the French and complex weapons have been delivered on time and budget , and will be. Spear, sea Venom, camm are all rolling out of a sound industrial tie in.

Steve M
Steve M
3 months ago
Reply to  David

I thought JSM was under 4M so should fit internally on a B so being ‘stealthy’ would like to hope it could get within range to launch and bug out? NSM would be useful in places like gulf where hundred miles is plenty, would then have FCASW/tomahawk in Mk41’s for long range strike. For short range s NSM would be useful against these heavily arm Corevette type vessels that do have that range weapons either that or we need more Sea Ceptor to take the missile out.

Parmany13
Parmany13
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve M

We should equip the Destroyer & Frigates and our aircraft (F-35B, P-8, Typhoon) with JSM/ NSM as a minimum. Long range and hypersonic is all sexy and the future but these are long term and how often is a conflict going to be BVR, in conjested waters like North Sea, Persian gulf, South China Seas then the NSM/JSM is perfect fit at a medium level conflict.
Surely a couple of hundred million should give us a huge capability increase. There should be different levels of ASM.

Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty
3 months ago
Reply to  David

I think you’re confusing JSM with the NSM.

Re the JSM Wikipedia says: “185 km (115 mi; 100 nmi)+ low-low-low profile, 555 km (345 mi; 300 nmi)+ hi-hi-low profile”

Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve M

Will the VL-JSM be launchable from Sylver cells?

Steve M
Steve M
3 months ago
Reply to  Humpty Dumpty

MK-41 i think, but having NSM in canisters on T-45 for protect against Corvette/Fast Attack craft would be godd thing as they would be mainly acting as goalkeeper for QE’s the T-26/T-31 & 32 having NSM and VL-JSM for longer options especially if patrolling alone.

Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve M

If a carrier group is staying out of the range of DF-26, DF-21 or Kinzhal then corvettes and FACs aren’t going to be an issue. What we desperately need is a way to take out DF launchers and runways where aircraft carrying Kinzhal would take off from. At present the only way to do this is by using Astutes firing TLAMs, which are subsonic and unstealthy so probably easily shot down. We also need a stealthy anti-ship missile that outranges Kalibr, Oniks, YJ-18 and Zircon. The JSM lacks range against those missiles (and especially if vertically launched as opposed to… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Humpty Dumpty
Andy a
Andy a
2 months ago
Reply to  Lordtemplar

Perseus was an idea or plan not an actual weapon being produced

Marked
Marked
3 months ago

The MOD are determined this island nation will continue to have practically no capability to control the waters around it! Never mind further afield! Navy surface fleet minimal capability. Guns only. Fleet air arm minimal capability relying on the crazy reliance on getting close enough to bomb with a handful of aircraft so expensive we can’t afford to risk them. RAF as above Don’t roll out the nuclear sub excuse when only a couple can be at sea at a given time covering the whole planet! And in times of tension one is almost certainly going to be watching over… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Never mid ASM for P8. It would just be nice to have.

They should primarily be supporting GIUK and CASD.

What they really need is Stingray. not the Mk46.

On ASM, I see fast jets as the main ASM carrier, I’d hope the F35s get an ASM sooner rather than later.

Max Jones
Max Jones
3 months ago

I think a Stingray replacement isn’t too far off the horizon – end of the decade maybe. It would make more sense to begin integrating compatibility with that when it arrives, gives the plans some more longevity.

James William Fennell
James William Fennell
3 months ago

A new lightweight torpedo is included in the DCP. No point integrating Stingray as it’s about to be replaced.

Last edited 3 months ago by James William Fennell
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Interesting. Had not spotted that. Thanks.

David Llloyd
David Llloyd
3 months ago

Obviously not. And there is no point in arming the P8 with a BVRAAM or decoys because that would make it more difficult for the Russians to shoot them down

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago

Hi Daniele, 2026 at the earliest for Spear 3/EW (requires Block 4) the same timeframe for Meteor. Possibly FCASW mid 30’s.

“Against peer adversaries, particularly operating powerful Anti-Access/Area Denial strategies, stand-off weapons of greater power and range are needed.

The threat may apply both to the aircraft but also the carrier group that must otherwise stay within the combat radius of the jet, potentially within the A2/AD bubble.

Storm Shadow will not be integrated on F-35, although hopefully its successor FCASW will be sufficiently compact to be air-launched and integrated on F-35 by the mid-2030s.”

https://www.navylookout.com/putting-the-strike-in-uk-carrier-strike-the-spear-3-stand-off-weapon/

Last edited 3 months ago by Nigel Collins
Mark
Mark
3 months ago

Why does the us version Carry harpoon and a defensive air to air missle along with a torpedo and sonar buoys? Why aren’t ours cleared to carry any of them? We use the same weapons on other platforms. Taken from UKFJ article….Feb 2020 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… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Im only guessing, but much like the F35, they are cleared to carry the weapons as you mention, but, we haven’t purchased any from the US. I would imagine that given time and money we will eventually start to integrate some of our weapons on the P-8. An obvious addition would be Stingray torpedo or its replacement as some have posted.

Paul42
Paul42
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Must admit, I thought the whole idea of having the P8 off the line was it would be cleared to carry the same kit as the US Planes??? Perhaps it has more to do with lack of funds on our side…….

Knight7572
Knight7572
3 months ago

Why isn’t Bae Stingray not cleared for the P-8s when they are the ASW Homing-Torpedo that the British use? unless the US is scared that Stingray is better than the Mark 54

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
3 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

because they haven’t gone through all the clearance tests for carriage, integration etc. No doubt an expensive procedure that the UK would most likely be the sole customer for & therefore have to bear all costs of.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
3 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

It explains in the article why British weapons haven’t been integrated at the moment.

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Let’s hope they will be at some point in the future, although I suspect that some defence experts and commentators will say that we should stick to those weapons carried by other NATO P-8s.

John Hartley
John Hartley
3 months ago

Given the lack of money for integration, the UK should at least take advantage of other weapons that other nations integrate on to the P-8. LRASM & SLAM-ER being the obvious.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
3 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

The US P-8s are not cleared to carry the LRASM. The US Navy has plans to give Boeing a contract to do that this year. They are cleared to carry the SLAM-ER.

John Hartley
John Hartley
3 months ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Well we would not magic LRASM out of thin air. Even if we order today, it would take years for LRASM to turn up, by which time the Americans will have integrated LRASM on P-8. Have the Australians ordered LRASM for their P-8?

Andrew Sutherland
Andrew Sutherland
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Super Hornets first…200 units. Working with the USN to equip the P8 when they do. Also looking at a capability to operate them from the Hobart Class AWD.

Jacko
Jacko
3 months ago

IF the need was to arise I am sure there would be all sorts that all of a sudden could be used on the aircraft.

JOHNT
JOHNT
3 months ago

So how many MK54 torpedoes does that buy?

Graham S
Graham S
3 months ago

I suppose we should praise them for the unusual step of taking the P8 “as is”, without going down the normal rathole of British modifications which would add delay and huge cost overruns to keep BAe fat and comfortable.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago

For those not in the know the Mk 54 is a bastardised Mk50 homing head mated to a Mk 46 back end (propulsion system) and warhead. The Mk 46 was assessed by the MOD in the 1970s as not being up to the job of catching and killing Soviet Alphas because it was to slow, couldn’t go deep enough and it couldn’t sinking slower double hulled subs such as Typhoons or Oscars because it had a blast warhead. To rectify these issues the MOD developed Sting Ray. Its very very fast (faster than an Alpha was even when going flat… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
3 months ago

And didn’t I read somewhere that it only carries 5 torpedoes max – that’s only 1 more than a Merlin! Seriously, they really should utilise this size of aircraft more. AShMs/Spear/Brimstone on the wings wouldn’t even interfere with the torpedo load. And they should have AMRAAM capability too, maybe they do? I’m not sure what the RAAF or IAF does with their P-8s. Maybe someone here can advise on this?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
3 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Sorry, I meant a ASRAAM ability.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
3 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

And also what weapons will the Norwegian and German airforces have on their P8s? I imagine there would be some shared capabilities beyond just torpedos?

TwinTiger
TwinTiger
3 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

The RAAF launch Harpoons from their P-8A wing stations. First launch 2018.

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
3 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Its not about the number its how far you can carry then: A Merlin (while a great piece of kit) can’t sit on station 1000’s kms far from its base in horrid weather for 4+ hours. The real utility of a good MPA comes with the range/loiter time, radar, E/O and IR kit, sonobouys, comms/ELINT systems and (the very big advantage…) of having a skilled mission team on board that can then collect, analyse and share this info with other systems/ships/aircraft/subs/HQ.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ambivalent Lurker