First RAF P-8A Poseidon touches down in Scotland

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The first Boeing P-8A Poseidon of the Royal Air Force (RAF) arrived in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2020. The new maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft will help the country “track hostile targets below and above the waves.”

The aircraft, tail number ZP801 and named Pride of Moray, was formally delivered on July 12, 2019, during a ceremony at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, United States. Since then, the plane had been used for testing and crew training.

The P-8A, known as the Poseidon MRA (maritime, reconnaissance and attack) Mk.1. within the Royal Air Force flew to RAF Kinloss, Scotland, on February 4, 2020. It will be based there while its ultimate residence, RAF Lossiemouth, is undergoing a runway expansion to accommodate the aircraft.

The need for a new maritime patrol plane was expressed by the United Kingdom in its Strategic Defense and Security Review in 2015. Four Poseidons should be in service within the Royal Air Force by the end of 2020. Operated by the No. 120 Squadron, they will take on the role of the Hawker-Siddeley Nimrod that retired in 2011. One of their main missions will be to help protect the nuclear deterrence system deployed by submarines, and the two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

Based on the fuselage of the Boeing 737-800, with the wings of the -900, it is powered by two CFM56-7B engines from CFM International, giving it a range of 5900 kilometers (3666 miles). It can be equipped, both internally and externally, with an array of armaments dedicated to submarine and anti-ship warfare, such as torpedoes, mines, depth charges and anti-ship missiles.

Besides the United Kingdom and the United States, five other countries are adding P-8A Poseidon to their fleets. Australia has received its twelve P-8As since deliveries began in 2016. India, which requested a unique P-8I variant, has already received eight of twelve aircraft and opted for an additional 10 in November 2019. Norway is to receive the first of its five Poseidons in 2022. New Zealand has signed a purchase agreement for four aircraft, and South Korea for six.

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