A deal for the purchase of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for the Royal Air Force has been confirmed by the UK Ministry of Defence.
The contract was announced at Farnborough today, July 11, by Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon. The new aircraft will be based in Scotland at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, where an additional 400 personnel will be based as a result of this decision.
Michael Fallon said: “Our new MPA aircraft will provide significant protection of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and our £6 billion aircraft carriers. They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will rise each year of this decade. That means more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber – to deal with the increased threats to our country.”
The P-8As are being purchased from the US Government via a Foreign Military Sale. The cost of developing and delivering the UK’s MPA capability, including paying for the people, their training, the infrastructure and necessary support at RAF Lossiemouth, will be around £3 billion over the next decade, says the MOD.
Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said: “Already in service with other nations, the P-8A aircraft was the best solution to fill our Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability gap; it is tried, tested and can be delivered in the timeline we need. The fact that we have been able to commit the main investment decision on this key procurement less than nine months after the Government announced its intention to buy these aircraft is a great testament to the agility, professionalism, and drive of DE&S, working closely with colleagues across MOD and the US Navy.
The announcement of this deal marks the point at which responsibility for leadership of the MPA Programme transfers from Joint Forces Command to the RAF. With the first aircraft due to arrive in the UK in 2019/2020, the RAF has been committed to maintaining the skills needed to operate these MPAs through the ‘seed-corn’ programme, which has embedded former RAF MPA operators within the MPA squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.
Air Vice-Marshal Gerry Mayhew, who is responsible for the RAF’s fast jets and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, said: “The seed-corn initiative has been vital in ensuring that our future MPA aircrew are prepared to regenerate the UK’s MPA capability. By retaining those essential skills, our aircrew are already on the front foot when it comes to operating these new aircraft.”