A Royal Air Force P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) has completed its first operation in the North Sea, shadowing a Russian warship.
The P-8A Poseidon from 120 Squadron, based at Kinloss Barracks, completed a prolonged watch over of Russian warship Vasily Bykov on Monday.
It completed the operation while being supported by multiple aircraft, including Typhoon fighters based at RAF Lossiemouth and a VIP Voyager refuelling aircraft, complete with its Union Flag paintjob, stationed at RAF Brize Norton.
Minister of State for Defence, Baroness Goldie said: "In an increasingly unstable world of persistent challenge and competition, it is important that the UK Armed Forces possess cutting edge technology to meet threats wherever they emerge.
"The sight of our new Poseidon aircraft, working in concert with the Royal Navy has showcased the UK’s readiness to defend its waters from any incursion."
The Poseidon’s operational debut comes after the RAF’s newest anti-submarine aircraft took part in a multi-national exercise for the first time.
The P-8A Poseidon MRA1, practiced its skills in the North Atlantic as part of NATO's Exercise Dynamic Moose, showcasing the UK’s maritime offensive and defensive capabilities.
The maritime patrol aircraft is equipped with sensors and weapons systems designed for submarine hunting.
It can also carry out surveillance, as well as search and rescue missions, according to the RAF.
The aircraft’s mix of tracking options and associated weapons able to find surface and sub-surface vessels offer the opportunity for more future joint operations between the RAF and the Royal Navy.
Air Vice Marshal Ian Duguid, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group, said: "The RAF continues to evolve and develop as the Next Generation RAF becomes a reality.
"The Poseidon aircraft is a key part of that development and evidence of the hard work performed by all those involved.
"This mission by the Poseidon, to monitor Russian naval activity, shows how the RAF will now be able to contribute to maritime security alongside the Royal Navy and our NATO allies, to secure the seas and skies."
The RAF has committed to purchasing nine P-8A Poseidons, costing £3 billion in total.
A third of the aircraft was named in June, after the "highest-scoring pilot" in Coastal Command during the Second World War.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to RAF Lossiemouth last month coincided with a new £100 million hangar bay for submarine-hunter planes at the base being handed over from Boeing to the MOD.
The Government, together with the aerospace and construction industries, is investing millions at RAF Lossiemouth to provide a state of the art base for the fleet of nine aircraft in Scotland.
Cover image: P-8A Poseidon arriving into Kinloss Barracks in March (Picture: MOD).