U.S. aerospace giant Boeing announced the delivery of the first of nine P-8A Poseidon, the newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, to the United Kingdom Royal Air Force (RAF).
The United Kingdom is acquiring the multi-mission aircraft through the Foreign Military Sales process with the U.S. Navy. The P-8A Poseidon replaces the U.K.’s retired Nimrod aircraft.
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 U.K. 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.”
Boeing formally delivered the aircraft on Oct. 29 to the U.S. Navy during a ceremony at the Boeing Military Delivery Center in Tukwila, Wash. From Tukwila, the aircraft flew to the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, where U.S. Navy leaders officially turn 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 U.S. 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.
The P-8 is long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations.
The Poseidon is a multi-mission capable replacement aircraft for the legacy P-3C Orion. It is a militarized version of the Boeing 737 and utilized for a wide-array of missions. In addition, the P-8 performs humanitarian and search and rescue missions around the globe.