Boeing has delivered the first Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) to the UK’s Royal Air Force.
The first of nine MRA Mk.1 aircraft was handed over as part of a £3 billion program to replace the UK’s fleet of retired Nimrod aircraft.
Boeing formally delivered the aircraft on Oct. 29 to the US Navy during a ceremony at the Boeing Military Delivery Center in Tukwila, Wash. From Tukwila, the aircraft flew to the US Navy’s Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, where US Navy leaders officially turned the aircraft over to the United Kingdom.
At JAX, Royal Air Force crew will work with the aircraft before flying it to the United Kingdom in January 2020. All nine P-8A aircraft will be based at Lossiemouth, Scotland.
As part of a collaborative program with the US Navy, pilots and maintainers from the United Kingdom’s RAF have been stationed at Naval Air Station JAX since 2012. Called “Project Seedcorn,” the arrangement has allowed RAF members to fly the P-8A with Patrol Squadron Thirty (VP-30), the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Fleet Replacement Squadron, to maintain their maritime patrol skills in advance of receiving the P-8A.
Speaking to attendees at the delivery ceremony, Air Marshal Andrew Turner, deputy commander for Capability for the Royal Air Force, spoke of the “profound challenge” of enemy submarines threatening the UK and other nations.
“P-8 is the key to solving this challenge on the surface, the sub-surface and in the waters of the North Atlantic. There is no place [for our enemies] to hide. We will make the oceans transparent and we will prevail.”
The P-8 is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. In addition, the P-8 performs humanitarian and search and rescue missions.
The aircraft can carry up to 129 sonobuoys, small detection devices which are dropped from the aircraft into the sea to search for enemy submarines. The systems survey the battlespace under the surface of the sea and relay acoustic information via radio transmitter back to the aircraft.
The aircraft will also be armed with Harpoon anti-surface ship missiles and Mk 54 torpedoes capable of attacking both surface and sub-surface targets.