U.K. Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon has announced the numbers of the country’s two new Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) squadrons and the first commanding officer.
Nine new P-8A Poseidon long range Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) MPA will be operated by number 120 Squadron and number 201 Squadron from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.
120 Squadron was the RAF’s highest scoring anti-submarine unit in the Second World War with 14 kills. 201 Squadron can trace its origins back to the formation of No 1 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service in 1914. Wing Commander James Hanson will oversee the formation of 120 Squadron from April 2018. 201 Squadron will form in 2021.
The aircraft’s key role will be to help protect the UK’s submarine-deployed nuclear deterrent and its two new aircraft carriers. The UK Government is investing £3 billion over the next decade in its Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said that the “nine new Poseidon aircraft are part of our plan to monitor and deal with increased threats to our country… They can operate at long range without refuelling and have the endurance to carry out high and low-level airborne maritime and overland surveillance for extended periods, helping keep us safe… The P-8A aircraft will allow us to work more closely with our allies, improve our surveillance coverage and will provide value for taxpayers’ money.”
“Today is an important milestone in the P-8A Poseidon programme which will bring to the Royal Air Force an unrivalled maritime patrol capability… The advanced state-of-the-art sensors aboard the P-8A will provide global protection to UK, NATO and our Allies’ submarines and warships, and enhance and complement the UK’s standing search and rescue responsibilities”, The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said.
Poseidon will add to the UK’s surveillance capabilities and is designed to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue and intelligence gathering. They can carry torpedoes and anti-shipping missiles.
As a leading members of NATO, the UK Ministry of Defence has already signed agreements with the US and Norwegian militaries to cooperate closely on operating their P-8A aircraft across the North Atlantic.
With the first aircraft due to arrive in the UK in 2020, the RAF has maintained its Maritime Patrol Aircraft skills by embedding aircrew within MPA squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.
Poseidon will bring wider economic benefits with an additional 400+ service personnel to be located at RAF Lossiemouth, where £400m is also being invested in new support infrastructure for the aircraft.
Boeing P-8 Poseidon is a military maritime patrol aircraft developed for the United States Navy (USN) by Boeing Defense, Space & Security and is a modified from the 737-800ERX.
The P-8 conducts anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with an early warning self-protection (EWSP) ability, otherwise known as electronic support measures (ESM).
The has the capability to carry torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys.
It is designed to operate in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The P-8 is operated by the U.S. Navy, the Indian Navy (IN, as P-8I Neptune), the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF).
Source: UK MoD/Wikipedia