The first of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft due to join the United Kingdom Royal Air Force (RAF)’s fleet, made a successful maiden flight on July 12, 2019, Boeing reveals.
The aircraft, registeredZP801, is now to be moved for mission systems installation and further testing, before the delivery to RAF, expected “later this year”. However, the aircraft will not reach the country before 2020, as it will be first flown to U.S. Naval Air Station Jacksonville for additional preparation and training.
The UK first laid out the P-8 plans in its Strategic Defense and Security Review in 2015. The same year, Boeing was awarded a $68.4 million long lead item contract for the first two P-8s. In 2017, the U.S. and UK announced a partnership to create a logistics infrastructure for the P-8s at the RAF base in Lossiemouth, Scotland, where Poseidons are to be located.
“The RAF P-8A Poseidon fleet will support maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and anti-ship warfare for the UK, and will increase protection of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers,” according to Boeing.
Besides UK, five other (non-U.S.) countries are adding P-8A Poseidon to their fleets. India, which opted for P-8I variant, has already received eight of twelve aircraft it has on order. Similarly, Australia has received eight of twelve P-8As since deliveries began in 2016. Norway is to receive the first of its five P-As in 2022. New Zealand has signed a purchase agreement for four, while South Korea ‒ for six, aircraft.