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Famous Wartime Anti-Sub Squadron To Fly New Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The squadrons flying the P-8 Poseidon will defend Britain's ships against surface and underwater threats ...

The squadrons that will be operating the UK’s nine new aircraft tasked with defending the UK’s nuclear deterrent have been announced.

Both 120 Squadron and 201 Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, will be manning the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircrafts, which are due to arrive in 2020.

120 Squadron has already earned itself notoriety as the Second World Wars highest-scoring anti-submarine unit with 14 kills.

The Squadrons’ role will be to protect the nation’s nuclear weapons, alongside its two new aircraft carriers.

201 Sqdrn

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

 "Our nine new Poseidon aircraft are part of our plan to monitor and deal with increased threats to our country.

"They can operate at long range without refuelling and have the endurance to carry out high and low-level airborne maritime and overland surveillance for extended periods, helping keep us safe.

The planes, designed to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, carry torpedos and anti-shipping missiles.

Search and rescue as well as intelligence-gathering will also form part of the aircrafts' role.

Wing Commander James Hanson will oversee the formation of 120 Squadron from April 2018 while 201 Squadron will form in 2021.

Boeing Poseidon P8 - Picture Courtesy of Boeing

Mr Hanson said:

"It's a huge honour. It's very, very exciting but it's also a really big task up ahead of me.

"Between now and April 2018, when the squadron stands up, we will be building the squadron."

Agreements have already been made for co-operation between the US and Norweigan missiles on operating the aircraft overseas.

With the first plane due to arrive in 2020, the RAF has maintained its skills by placing air crew within squadrons in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Two of those are electronic warfare specialist Paul O'Flaherty and pilot trainer Mark Faulds, who have spent the last five years in Jacksonville, Florida, working with the US Navy.

Mr O'Flaherty said:

"Our old aircraft was a different generation with different technologies.

"This (P-8A Poseidon) is comfortable, technology-wise it's 21st-century as opposed to 20th-century technology and we get that new aeroplane smell."

Mr Faulds added:

"We're back out to Jacksonville sometime next week. It's been good to come back to the fine Scottish weather."

The UK Government is planning to invest £3 billion in maritime aircraft capabilities over the next decade.

Poseidon alone will bring more than 400 additional service personnel to RAF Lossiemouth, where £400 million is also being invested.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said of the development:

"It's good news all round. It's a new chapter in Moray's proud, long relationship with the RAF and playing a vital role in the nation's defences."

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