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UK Poseidon makes maiden flight

15 July 2019
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The first Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 for the UK Royal Air Force made its maiden flight on 13 July. Source: Crown Copyright

The first Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft (MMA) for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) made its maiden flight on 13 July.

The first of nine Poseidon MMAs for the UK, serial number ZP801, made its inaugural flight out of Boeing's Renton facility near Seattle, Washington, ahead of fitting with military systems and delivery to Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida in October. It will be flown to its future homebase of RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020, where it will be operated by 120 Squadron.

In RAF service, the Poseidon will be designated MRA 1, while this first aircraft also has the name Pride of Moray. The UK government announced its plans to buy nine P-8As in its Strategic Defence and Security Review in late 2015 and signed the formal order at the Farnborough International Airshow in July 2016.

According to previous announcements the total cost of the procurement is valued at GBP3 billion (USD3.8 billion) through to about 2027. London has also disclosed that the procurement includes off-the-shelf purchases of unspecified weapons, sonar buoys, and other 'consumables'. It has since been reported that the RAF's P-8As will field the same Mk54 torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles as the US Navy (USN).

With the fleet set to be delivered RAF Lossiemouth in early 2020, operations will commence in early Q4 2020.

Derived from the Boeing 737-800 commercial airliner (but with 737-900 wings), the P-8A Poseidon has been built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, GE Aviation, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Spirit AeroSystems.

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