First RAF Poseidon
P8 Poseidon Rotates
The first of the Royal Air Forces 9 P8 Poseidon submarine hunting aircraft will arrive in RAF Lossiemouth later this week. ZP801, has been named “Pride of Moray”. The £3billion fleet will be operated by 2 squadrons, CXX Sqn & eventually 201 Sqn, with their crews already training on the aircraft in the United States.
These aircraft will fly maritime patrols to ensure UK security, which has been a gap in UK defence since the Nimrod was scrapped. The requirement for another maritime patrol aircraft was highlighted in SDSR15 & subsequently P8s were ordered from US manufacturer Boeing.
"SDSR15 proposed that nine P-8 Poseidon MPA be acquired. At the time, the P-8 was the only MPA on the market capable of meeting the UK’s needs in a reasonable timescale. Given the urgency of filling this acknowledged gap in the Defence Programme, the Government was undoubtedly justified in selecting that aircraft without going out to competition. However, capable though the P-8 may be, the number of aircraft planned is undoubtedly inadequate to fulfil even the highest priority tasks likely to be assigned to the force in tension and hostilities.”
The previously scrapped Nimrod
The primary tasks for which MPA are likely to be required in peacetime, tension and hostilities are, according:
Protection of the UK’s national strategic deterrent.
Protection of naval forces – in particular, the new aircraft carriers.
Protection against threats to commercial and other shipping, including counter-piracy.
Surveillance of, and action against, threats to trans-continental under-sea communications cables.
Protection of the UK EEZ (including oil rigs and shore facilities) against potential threats, assistance in counter-terrorism operations and, possibly, fishery protection post BREXIT.
Protection of overseas territories, including the Falklands.
Operations in such areas as the Caribbean in support of counter drug-running operations.
Support to Special Forces.
Gathering electronic, acoustic and photographic intelligence.
Fulfilling the UK’s international obligations for Search and Rescue in aid of shipping and aircraft in distress out to longitude 30 degrees west, in accordance with the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979.
Hopefully the UK can employ these aircraft to their maximum capabilities & in future procure more of the aircraft, we can only watch and see how the RAF make the most of P8 & whether the gap left by Nimrod will ever be fully filled by Poseidon.