The third of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 maritime multimission aircraft (MMA) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) arrived in the United Kingdom on 14 October.
Aircraft ZP803 seen at Boeing Field in the United States ahead of its delivery flight to RAF Lossiemouth on 14 October. (Boeing)
Aircraft ZP803, named Terence Bulloch DSO DFC, flew into RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland to join ZP801 Pride of Moray and ZP802 City of Elgin just two days after the base reopened to aircraft after a six-month runway refurbishment.
Poseidon operations are being flown by 120 Squadron and 201 Squadron, with 54 Squadron serving as the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU). 201 Sqn will be stood up as a second operational unit at a later date.
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
that this will not now be the case, due to the relatively few aircraft being procured and commitment to its 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).