The first of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 maritime multi-mission aircraft (MMA) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) arrived in the UK on 4 February.
Aircraft ZP801 flew into RAF Kinloss in Scotland from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville in Florida, where it had been used for crew training since being formally delivered to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in July 2019.
The aircraft, named Pride of Moray, will transfer to the type's future home operating station a short distance away at RAF Lossiemouth when construction of new facilities is completed later in the year. Operations of all nine aircraft are set to commence at this location in early Q4 2020, with the type being flown by 120 Squadron.
Delivery of the first Poseidon MRA1 marks a major milestone in the reconstitution of the UK's airborne maritime patrol capability that was put on hiatus in 2010 with the retirement of the BAE Systems Nimrod MR2 and the cancellation of its Nimrod MRA4 replacement.
Once fully operational, the Poseidons will assume responsibility for protecting the Royal Navy's two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, as well as undertaking their baseline maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) roles. While it was originally intended that the platforms should have an overland surveillance capability, an RAF officer recently told Jane's that this will not now be the case, due to the relatively few number of aircraft being procured and their commitment to their core carrier protection/MPA and ASW tasks.
The RAF's P-8As will be at the same standard as the aircraft fielded by the US Navy (USN) and all other export nations, except India which operates its own P-8I Neptune configuration (the most notable difference being the inclusion on the P-8I of a Magnetic Anomaly Detector [MAD] boom in place of the P-8A's Multi-Static Active Coherent [MAC] acoustic detection system for submarines).
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