The RAF’s new submarine-hunting Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) has touched down for the first time in the UK.
The aircraft is the first of a new £3 billion programme, including the purchase of nine state-of-the-art Poseidon jets, which will improve the UK’s ability to track hostile targets below and above the waves.
Poseidon aircraft will protect the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent and be central to NATO missions across the North Atlantic, co-operating closely with the US and Norwegian Poseidon fleets.
The UK’s purchase of the Poseidon is in response to increased threats such as Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic returning to Cold War levels, while China is also investing heavily in new Arctic facilities, infrastructure and ice-capable ships.
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 Poseidon is designed to carry out extended surveillance missions at high and low altitudes. The aircraft is equipped with cutting-edge sensors which use high-resolution area mapping to find both submarines and surface vessels.
Each aircraft carries sonobuoys which are dropped from the aircraft into the sea to search for enemy submarines, surveying the battlespace under the sea and relaying data back to the aircraft.
Poseidon will also be armed with Harpoon anti-surface ship missiles and Mk 54 torpedoes capable of attacking both surface and sub-surface targets.
Air Chief Marshal 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.