The seventh of nine P-8A Poseidons to be received by the UK bears the name William Barker VC, after a First World War pilot who flew with the same 201 Squadron that operates the maritime multimission aircraft. (Crown Copyright)
The seventh of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 maritime multimission aircraft (MMA) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) arrived in the United Kingdom on 19 October.
Aircraft ZP807, named William Barker VC after a Canadian pilot who served with the RAF's 201 Squadron during the First World War, flew into RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland to join the previously delivered ZP801 Pride of Moray, ZP802 City of Elgin, ZP803 Terence Bulloch DSO DFC, ZP804 Spirit of Reykjavik, ZP805 Fulmar, and ZP806 Guernsey's Reply. The final two Poseidons are scheduled to arrive before the end of the year.
In UK service, the Poseidon is operated by 201 and 120 squadrons, with 54 Squadron serving as the operational conversion unit. Delivery of the first seven Poseidon MRA1s is a major milestone in the reconstitution of the UK's airborne maritime patrol capability, which was put on hold in 2010 with the retirement of 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 Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, as well as undertaking their baseline maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) roles. Although it was originally intended that the platforms should have an overland surveillance capability, an RAF officer told
that this would not be the case, owing to the relatively few aircraft being procured, and commitment to its core-carrier protection/MPA and ASW tasks.