P-8A Poseidon landing at Kinloss Barracks

P-8A Poseidon: What Is The RAF's New Aircraft?

Nine P-8A Poseidons will eventually operate from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

P-8A Poseidon landing at Kinloss Barracks

The RAF has welcomed its new P-8A Poseidon aircraft to the United Kingdom.

The 'Pride of Moray' landed at Kinloss Barracks in Scotland, before moving on to its permanent base later this year at RAF Lossiemouth, which is currently undergoing a £460 million upgrade.

The service received its first P-8A last October, during a ceremony in the United States.

The latest maritime patrol aircraft will fill the role left by the Nimrod, which was retired in 2010.

P-8As will be equipped with sensors and weapons systems designed for anti-submarine warfare, and will also carry out surveillance and search and rescue missions, according to the RAF.

Based on the Boeing 737-800 airliner, the contract to develop the P-8A for the United States military was granted in 2004, and the first Poseidon flew in 2009.

The US Navy began operating the P-8A in 2013 and variations of the aircraft are in service with the Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.

The aircraft being delivered to the RAF will be equipped with a range of search and tracking systems, including:

  • An APY-10 radar providing high-resolution mapping.  
  • An acoustic sensor system.
  • An IR turret and electronic support measures (ESM).

The aircraft will also carry torpedoes.

Revamp work at RAF Lossiemouth
Runways at RAF Lossiemouth are being resurfaced ahead of the arrival of the P-8A Poseidon.

Defence analyst Tim Ripley, from Jane's Defence Weekly, said: "For 10 years, the RAF has not had a maritime patrol aircraft so this is a major development.

"It is a different type of maritime patrol aircraft, it's not built in the way that the Royal Air Force has operated maritime patrol aircraft in the past.

"It's a converted airliner, so it's not designed to operate at a low level, which is the way that previous generations of British maritime patrol aircraft have operated.

"It was supposed to have a suite of high-level weapons and sonobuoys that could be dropped from a high level - so far, the US Navy has not brought those systems into service.

"So, we have to wait and see how good the P-8A will be in its new role without its complete suite of weapons and sensors."

Watch: P-8A will 'end 10-year gap' in RAF capability.

Nine P-8A Poseidons will eventually operate from RAF Lossiemouth, with the MOD having spent £3 billion on the fleet.

Boeing P-8A Poseidon

Approximate Specifications:

  • Height: 42ft/13m
  • Length: 130ft/40m
  • Wingspan: 123ft/37m
  • Speed: 490kt/907kmh
  • Range: 4,500 miles/7,242km
  • Ceiling: 41,000ft

(Source: RAF)

Cover Image: The RAF's first P-8A Poseidon touching down at NAS Jacksonville in the US (Picture: MOD).