The UK Royal Air Force (RAF)’s third Poseidon MRA1 (P-8A) maritime patrol aircraft, ZP803 “Terence Bulloch”, arrived at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, the UK on Oct. 14.
The aircraft is named after Squadron Leader Terence Bulloch, one of the most decorated pilots in Royal Air Force Coastal Command during World War II. He was responsible for sinking four German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic – more than any other pilot. Terry was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, and Distingushed Flying Cross and Bar (DSO* and DFC*).
Nine Poseidon MRA1 aircraft have been ordered, the first of which, ZP801 “Pride of Moray”, landed on British soil for the first time in February 2020. The second aircraft, ZP802 “City of Elgin”, arrived in UK in March.
These two aircraft arrived at RAF Lossiemouth for the first time on Oct. 13. Until now, the Poseidons were temporarily based at nearby Kinloss Barracks due to £75 million runway and taxiway resurfacing works performed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) at the RAF Lossiemouth, the new home of UK maritime patrol operations based in the heart of Moray, Scotland. The Kinloss Barracks, used previously by the RAF Nimrod MPA fleet, is now home to the British Army’s specialist air support engineers, 39 Engineer Regiment.
The sale of nine P-8A aircraft to the United Kingdom was approved by the U.S. State Department in March 2016 under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. In January this year, Boeing was awarded a $2.4 billion production contract from the U.S. Navy for 19 P-8A Poseidon MPAs, out of which four are destined for the UK bringing the total acquisition to nine aircraft.
The UK is one of six international customers for the P-8A Poseidon. The others are India, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, and South Korea.
The P-8A is formally known in RAF service as Poseidon MRA Mk.1. According to RAF, the MRA in the designation reflects the types of missions the aircraft will undertake in its service – maritime, reconnaissance and attack.
The key role of the Poseidon MRA Mk.1 will be to help protect the UK’s submarine-deployed nuclear deterrent and its two new aircraft carriers. The aircraft will add to the UK’s surveillance capabilities and is designed to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare (ASW, ASuW), search and rescue (SAR) and intelligence gathering. They can be armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles (AShM) and can drop and monitor sonobuoys.
All nine UK Poseidons will be delivered to the RAF by the end of 2021 and achieve full operational capability (FOC) from RAF Lossiemouth in 2024. The aircraft will be flown initially by 120 Squadron, the leading anti-submarine warfare squadron in World War 2, with 201 Squadron joining the program in due course.
Moray’s RAF Lossiemouth is one of the most important air stations in the UK: it is already home to four RAF Typhoon squadrons – half of the RAF Typhoon Force – and will become the centre of operations for the UK Poseidon fleet.