RAF P-8 Poseidon monitors Russian warship for maiden mission

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A P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft of the Royal Air Force (RAF) carried out its first mission by monitoring a Russian warship cruising in the North Sea near the United Kingdom’s sovereign waters.

The P-8A Poseidon belonging to the No. 120 Squadron took off from RAF Station Kinloss, Northern Scotland, to monitor the activity of the large patrol boat Vasily Bykov as it passed through the North Sea on August 3, 2020. The Poseidon was escorted by a number of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from the RAF Station Lossiemouth and an A330 MRTT Voyager refueling aircraft from the main RAF Station Brize Norton.

“In an increasingly unstable world of persistent challenge and competition, it is important that the UK Armed Forces possess cutting edge technology to meet threats wherever they emerge,” commented Annabel Goldie, Minister of State for Defence. “The sight of our new Poseidon aircraft, working in concert with the Royal Navy has showcased the UK’s readiness to defend its waters from any incursion.”

Known as the Poseidon MRA (maritime, reconnaissance and attack) Mk.1. within the Royal Air Force, the first Boeing P-8A, tail number ZP801, was delivered on February 4, 2020. Out of the nine ordered, four Poseidons should be in service within the Royal Air Force by the end of 2020. They are to be based in RAF Kinloss while their ultimate residence, RAF Lossiemouth, is undergoing a runway expansion to accommodate the aircraft.

Operated by the No. 120 Squadron, 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. 

The need for a new maritime patrol plane was expressed by the United Kingdom in its Strategic Defense and Security Review in 2015. The Poseidon will take on the role of the Hawker-Siddeley Nimrod that was retired in 2011. The new maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft will help the country “track hostile targets below and above the waves.”

“This mission by the Poseidon, to monitor Russian naval activity, shows how the RAF will now be able to contribute to Maritime Security alongside the Royal Navy and our NATO allies, to secure the seas and skies,” commented Air Vice Marshal Ian Duguid, in command of the No. 11 Group RAF.

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