Boeing has handed over the ninth and final Royal Air Force (RAF) P-8A Poseidon MRA1, which was then delivered from Seattle, Washington, to RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, where it arrived early on the morning of January 11. The aircraft - serial ZP809 (c/n 66109/8872) - completed its maiden flight on September 15, last year.
Delivery of all nine aircraft to the RAF has been completed in less than two years, the first aircraft having arrived in the UK on February 4, 2020. All nine aircraft are being given appropriate names, those allotted to date being: ZP801 Pride of Moray; ZP802 City of Elgin; ZP803 Terence Bulloch DSO* DFC; ZP804 Spirit of Reykjavik; ZP805 Fulmar; ZP806 Guernsey’s Reply and ZP807 William Barker VC. The final two aircraft - ZP808 (which arrived on November 16 last year) and ZP809 - have yet to be allocated names.
The Poseidon is designed to perform extended surveillance missions at low and high altitudes. It can provide high-resolution area mapping to find surface vessels and submarines using the aircraft’s integrated sensors. The UK’s P-8A fleet will work closely with allies across NATO, specifically with the US and Norway – the former already operates the platform and the latter has five examples on order. The type achieved initial operational capability (IOC) with the RAF on April 1, 2020.
The platform employs Raytheon’s AN/APY-10 maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radar, which provides the aircraft with a high-resolution mapping capability, an acoustic sensor system, an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret and electronic support measures (ESM). The AN/APY-10 gives the Poseidon a comprehensive search and tracking capability.
It can carry up to 129 passive and multi-static sonobuoys – which are used in searching and detecting enemy submarines – and Mk 54 torpedoes, if the aircraft is required to engage sub-surface targets, along with AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles for surface engagements. The RAF states that the aircraft is “equipped with US weapons, although British weapons may be integrated in [the] future.”