Pride of Moray, as the first of the Royal Air Force’s nine P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is named, completed its first operational mission earlier this week as it tracked a Russian warship transiting the English Channel.
Taking off from Kinloss Barracks on Monday morning, the Poseidon completed a prolonged overwatch of the Russian corvette Vasily Bykov, as it passed through the North Sea. It did so with support from Typhoon Fighters, based at RAF Lossiemouth and the VIP Voyager refuelling aircraft, stationed at RAF Brize Norton.
The Poseidon’s operational debut comes four months after the air force declared an initial operational capability for the service’s new generation of submarine hunters. P-8As are replacing the Nimrod MR2, the last of which retired in 2010.
“In an increasingly unstable world of persistent challenge and competition, it is important that the UK armed forces possess cutting edge technology to meet threats wherever they emerge,” UK minister of state for defense, Baroness Goldie said.
“This mission by the Poseidon, to monitor Russian naval activity, shows how the RAF will now be able to contribute to Maritime Security alongside the Royal Navy and our NATO allies, to secure the seas and skies,” Air Vice Marshal Ian Duguid, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group, said.
The UK Royal Air Force is scheduled to receive all of the nine Poseidons it ordered from Boeing by the end of 2021. They will be based at RAF Lossiemouth, once upgrades to facilities and the runway are completed later this year.