The United Kingdom took formal delivery of its first Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 maritime multi-mission aircraft at the manufacturer’s production facility near Seattle, Washington, on 29 October.
Aircraft ZP801 was turned over to senior officers from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN) about three-and-a-half months after making its maiden flight out of Boeing’s Renton facility near Seattle.
This first Poseidon MRA1, named Pride of Moray, will now be flown to Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville in Florida where it will stay before relocating to its future homebase of RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020. Once at RAF Lossiemouth, the Poseidon MRA1 will be fielded by 120 Squadron. Operations of all nine aircraft are set to commence in early Q4 2020.
The handover of the first Poseidon MRA1 for the RAF marks a major milestone for the UK’s airborne maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability that was mothballed when the BAE Systems Nimrod MR2 was retired in 2010 and the Nimrod MRA4 replacement was cancelled in the same year. With the mothballing of its airborne MPA and ASW capability, the UK sent about 30 of its former Nimrod pilots and operators to allied nations under the Project Seedcorn initiative in order to preserve their skills ahead of an expected restoration of the capability at a later date.
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