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British Poseidon submarine hunters complete first torpedo release trial

UK Poseidon releasing a torpedo for first time
Photo: Royal Air Force

A Royal Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft released a torpedo for the first time, in another milestone for the UK’s submarine hunter fleet.

In a training flight conducted over the Moray Firth a Poseidon (P-8A) aircraft operated by 120 Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, dropped a recoverable exercise variant of the Mark 54 lightweight torpedo, simulating an attack on a submarine.

At just under 3m long and 32cm in diameter, the Mk 54 torpedo is small and light enough that five can be carried in the Poseidon’s internal weapons bay.

“This exercise has proved everything is in place for our weapon technicians to rapidly get these torpedoes onto our aircraft, so we can deliver them wherever and whenever they are needed,” Squadron Leader Higgins, Torpedo Project lead, said.

It’s the first time the American-built aircraft – a militarised version of Boeing’s 737/800 airliner – has tested its primary weapon system.

As Poseidon is of US stock, she drops the Mk54, rather than the UK’s standard lightweight torpedo Sting Ray (used extensively by the Fleet Air Arm and surface fleet).

Photo: Royal Air Force

Five Poseidon MRA1s are based at RAF Lossiemouth with a further four set to be delivered by the end of this year.

The RAF Poseidon fleet, which will total nine aircraft, is already providing maritime patrol capabilities after reaching initial operational capability in April 2020.

The Poseidon is responsible for sea patrol missions, hunting potentially hostile submarines and helping defend the Royal Navy’s nuclear deterrent Vanguard-class submarines. Poseidons can carry up to 129 sonobuoys to search for enemy submarines and can be armed with Mk54 torpedoes if required to attack enemy submarines.