New P-8A Poseidon aircraft squadrons announced for UK's RAF
The British Royal Air Force's (RAF) No. 120 Squadron and No. 201 Squadron from Lossiemouth, Moray, are set to operate nine new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
The fleet of P-8A Poseidon will be primarily used to protect the British Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers and submarine-deployed nuclear deterrent.
P-8A Poseidon have been designed to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue operations, and intelligence gathering, and are expected to help enhance the country’s surveillance capabilities.
The aircraft can be used to carry torpedoes and anti-shipping missiles.
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Our 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.”
No. 120 Squadron was the RAF’s highest scoring anti-submarine unit in the Second World War with 14 confirmed kills, while No. 201 Squadron has its origins back in the formation of the Royal Naval Air Service's No. 1 Squadron in 1914.
No. 120 Squadron is set to be formed from April next year, and the 201 Squadron will be formed in 2021.
The UK's Ministry of Defence has also signed agreements with the US and Norwegian militaries to collaborate on operating their P-8A Poseidon aircraft across the North Atlantic.
Additionally, the UK Government intends to invest a total of £3bn in its maritime patrol aircraft capability over the next decade.
The country is also expected to benefit economically from the first arrival of the first aircraft, which is slated for 2020. More than 400 additional service personnel are planned to be appointed at RAF Lossiemouth upon the aircraft's delivery.
Poseidon P-8A is based on the Boeing 737 aircraft model, and will also create several hundred direct jobs and offer opportunities for UK companies to bid for training and support contracts.