A Boeing-built Poseidon P-8A maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft landed in Scotland on February 4, becoming the first of nine to be delivered to the UK.
The aircraft arrival also means that the “Silent Service” once again has its ‘long-range ears’ after a decade-long gap.
The aircraft – military versions of Boeing’s 737-800 – will be operated by the Royal Air Force’s 120 and, later, 201 Squadrons at Lossiemouth, but with Royal Navy personnel as part of the crew on each sortie.
Poseidon aircraft will protect the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent and be central to NATO missions across the North Atlantic, co-operating closely with the US and Norwegian Poseidon fleets.
Poseidon’s advent fills the gap left by the demise of the Nimrod MR2 which bowed out in 2010 and the plug was pulled on its over-budget and long-delayed replacement, the MR4A.
In addition to the UK, the P8 is in service with the US and Indian Navies and Royal Australian Air Force, with future operators including New Zealand and Norway.
Each one is equipped with 129 sonobuoy listening devices – dropped in the ocean in the path of a suspected submarine to help locate and track it – plus high-resolution area mapping to locate contacts of interest on and below the waves. The Poseidon additionally carries Mk 54 torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.