The Royal Air Force’s (RAF's) sixth Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 - serial ZP806 named ‘Guernsey’s Reply’ - arrived on delivery at its home base of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, on September 21.
However, upon landing it became obvious there was something different to this aircraft from the previous five delivered – its nose cone was the same grey as the rest of fuselage while the other nose cones on the rest of the UK's Poseidon fleet were black.
What made this all the more curious was that on May 8 the RAF tweeted to announce the naming of ZP806 and posted photos of the aircraft "undergoing its final checks at the Boeing factory in Seattle before joining the growing fleet” with the standard black nose cone.
Key.Aero enquired with the UK Ministry of Defence why ZP806 had a grey nose cone, whether the previous examples already delivered would be retrofitted and if the final three aircraft would be similarly adorned?
In response, a spokesman from the MOD would only say: “The change to a grey nose cone is due to an aircraft modification connected to radar performance. Modification to the entire fleet will be considered in due course.”
Indeed, the last three examples due be delivered, ZP807, ZP808 and ZP809, have been sighted at Boeing facilities around Seattle all wearing black nose cones. It will be interesting to see if like ZP806, they also receive grey nose cones prior to delivery.
The RAF ordered its nine Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft in 2016 with the first example arriving in the UK on February 4, 2020. Initial operating capability was achieved on April 1, 2020, with final operating capability (FOC) due to be declared in 2024.
By Dino Carrara