Royal Air Force crews begin P-8A training

The first of nine Poseidon MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft for the UK will be handed over in October 2019.

The Royal Air Force announced on January 21, 2019, that the first crews from CXX Squadron and the Poseidon Line Squadron have commenced training on the Boeing P-8A Poseidon in the United States. An initial cadre of 38 personnel from RAF Lossiemouth, a mix of aircrew (pilots and weapons systems operators) and maintenance engineers, are undergoing training with the US Navy’s Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30) ‘Pro’s Nest’ at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida.

Training of the first cadre is expected to take approximately six months to complete and more Royal Air Force crews will undergo training at NAS Jacksonville until it is transitioned back to Lossiemouth in 2021. Since the retirement of the Nimrod MR2 and the cancellation of its replacement, the Nimrod MRA4, the Royal Air Force has regularly posted maritime patrol crews to coalition air forces as part of its seed-corn skills retention programme.

Wing Commander James Hanson, Officer Commanding CXX Squadron, said: “This first cadre of RAF aircrew and engineers undertaking training on the P-8A Poseidon mark the resurgence of the RAF’s long-range maritime patrol capability. The P-8A Poseidon will enhance the UK’s maritime patrol capability with advanced, state-ofthe- art anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare sensors.”

To be known as the Poseidon MRA1, the Royal Air Force has nine P-8As on order, of which the first five are currently in production and the first will be delivered in October 2019. The final four are part of a follow-on production batch awarded to Boeing by the US Navy on January 28, 2019. The batch will also include ten aircraft for the US Navy and five for the Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force).