The first Poseidon MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for the RAF has arrived in the UK, Tuesday February 4. Flying in from NAS Jacksonville, Florida, ZP801 Pride of Moray touched down at Kinloss Barracks, (formerly RAF Kinloss) after a flypast flanked by two Typhoon fighters.
The nine Poseidons on order will be operated by 120 and 201 Sqns from RAF Lossiemouth, when runway and infrastructure work is complete in October this year.
The aircraft will begin initial operations in just a few months.
ACM Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: “The Poseidon MRA1 is a game-changing maritime patrol aircraft. I am delighted and proud to see the Pride of Moray and her crews returning to maritime patrol flying from Scotland, working alongside the Royal Navy to secure our seas and protect our nation.”
Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:“Our Poseidon fleet will soon join an integrated UK force of fighter jets, ships, submarines, helicopters and highly-trained Royal Marines, ready to operate in Arctic conditions. The UK will not stand by if peace in the Arctic region is threatened.
“RAF Lossiemouth’s strategic northerly location makes it one of the most important air stations in the UK: already home to half of the UK’s Typhoon Force, and now sitting at the heart of our anti-submarine operations.”
The P-8 was ordered in November 2015, following the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 programme in October 2010, leaving an MPA ‘capability gap’ of nearly a decade, filled in part by other NATO nations. In July 2012, RAF Kinloss was handed over to the army, but retained its runway and aviation infrastructure.