The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) will deploy the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the Arctic next year to tackle the growing threat from Russian submarine activity in the region.
The announcement was made by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson during a visit to Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel on winter training in Norway.
The proposed deployment is part of the Defence Arctic Strategy and seeks to strengthen the country’s relationship with regional partners.
Announced in late September, the new Defence Arctic Strategy will allow MOD to enhance its focus on the Arctic region, as well as improve operational skills in extremely cold environments.
Williamson said: “The Arctic Strategy puts us on the front foot in protecting Britain’s interests in this expanding new frontier.
“Whether it’s sharpening our skills in sub-zero conditions, learning from longstanding allies like Norway or monitoring submarine threats with our Poseidon aircraft, we will stay vigilant to new challenges.”
During his Norway visit, the Defence Secretary also held discussions with the elite commandos of the Royal Marines regarding the challenge of improving their combat skills in areas with temperatures as low as -30°C.
As part of the Arctic maritime patrol strategy, nine P-8A Poseidon aircraft will be delivered to RAF Lossiemouth next year for reconnaissance patrols over a wide range including the High North and North Atlantic.
Manufactured by Boeing, the aircraft is capable of supporting long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Meanwhile, the Royal Marines reached an agreement for a 10-year training programme with their Norwegian counterparts.
Under the programme, around 1,000 Royal Marines will travel to the Arctic each year to take part in training.
Norway and the UK are also partners in the Joint Expeditionary Force and Northern Group, which are aimed at enhancing the UK’s co-operation with northern European partners.
–Additional reporting by Talal Husseini.