The UK’s Ministry of Defence has taken delivery of the first Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Boeing P-8 Poseidon MRA1 submarine hunter.
ZP801 is the first of nine state-of-the-art maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft which will help the UK track hostile maritime objects as well as supporting the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.
The P-8 Poseidon MRA1 can carry up to 129 sonobuoys which are small detection devices dropped from the aircraft into the sea to search for enemy submarines.
The systems survey the battlespace under the surface of the sea and then relays acoustic information back to the aircraft.
They will also be equipped with Harpoon anti-surface ship missiles and torpedoes capable of attacking both surface and sub-surface targets.
Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: “Poseidon is a game-changing maritime patrol aircraft, able to detect, track and if necessary destroy the most advanced submarines in the world today.
“With Poseidon MRA1, I am delighted and very proud that the Royal Air Force will once again have a maritime patrol force working alongside the Royal Navy, securing our seas to protect our nation”
The first aircraft is due to arrive at RAF Lossiemouth, the Poseidon’s UK base, in early 2020 and will be initially operated by 120 Squadron.
120 Squadron was originally stood up on 1 January 1918 and was the leading anti-submarine warfare squadron in WWII.
The aircraft will also be operated by 201 Squadron which will also join the programme at a later date.
RAF Lossiemouth has recently undergone a £132m strategic upgrade to prepare for the new aircraft which included a new three-bay aircraft hangar and a tactical operations centre along with training and simulation facilities,