The Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) has been delivered to the Royal Air Force after an unveiling ceremony in Seattle. On the occasion, the Chief of Air Staff has said that, Russia has “nowhere to hide”, as the UK takes control of its first new submarine hunter plane.
Speaking exclusively to the Telegraph Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Mike Wigston, said: “It’s a game-changing anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft which is capable of detecting and tracking the most sophisticated submarines that Russia [is] fielding now.”
The 2010 Defence review decided Britain no longer needed an MPA capability, but ACM Wigston said Russian “adventurism” in Crimea and Ukraine and a “growing confrontational approach” led to a recognition in government that “the underwater battlespace had changed”.
The first of nine jets, named Pride of Moray, was flown to Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida where RAF personnel are being trained to operate the aircraft. The aircrafts will actually be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. The first aircraft will arrive at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray in early 2020 and all nine aircraft will be delivered by November 2021. To maintain skills the RAF has embedded aircrew within MPA squadrons in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.
The aircraft can carry up to 129 sonobuoys; small detection devices which are dropped from the aircraft into the sea to search for enemy submarines. The sonobuoys relay sounds such as propellers and engines back to the aircraft. The Poseidon aircraft will also be armed with Harpoon anti-surface ship missiles and torpedoes capable of attacking both surface and sub-surface targets.
As leading members of Nato, the UK has signed agreements with both the US and Norwegian militaries to cooperate closely on operating their Poseidon fleets across the North Atlantic.