Royal Air Force first P-8A Poseidon painted and undergoing pre-flight preparation

The first P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft of the Royal Air Force (RAF) has been painted in RAF colours and is now undergoing pre-flight preparations before it can take-off.

Royal Air Force first P 8A Poseidon painted and undergoing pre flight preparation The first P-8A Poseidon aircraft of the RAF is painted and ready to undergo pre-flight preparations (Picture Source: Woodys Aeroimages (Twitter Account))

Boeing P-8 Poseidon is a maritime patrol aircraft initially developed for the U.S. Navy (USN) by Boeing Defense, Space & Security based on its 737-800ERX commercial airliner design.

The sale of nine P-8A aircraft to the UK was approved by the U.S. State Department in March 2016 under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. In January this year, Boeing was awarded a $US 2.4 billion production contract from the U.S. Navy for 19 P-8A Poseidon aircraft, out of which 4 are destined for the UK, bringing the total acquisition to nine aircraft.

UK manufacturers also provide specialist sub-systems for the P-8A, for example, Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group (auxiliary fuel tanks), Martin Baker (crew seats), GE (Weapon Pylons) and GKN Aerospace (windshields).

The P-8A will be formally known in the RAF service as Poseidon MRA Mk.1. According to the RAF, the MRA in the designation reflects the types of missions the aircraft will undertake in its service – maritime, reconnaissance and attack.

The key role of the Poseidon MRA Mk.1 will be to help to protect the UK’s submarine-deployed nuclear deterrent and its two new aircraft carriers. The aircraft will add to the UK’s surveillance capabilities and is designed to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare (ASW, ASuW) missions, search-and-rescue (SAR) operations and intelligence gathering. They can be armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, and can drop and monitor sonobuoys.

The first RAF Poseidon aircraft is due to arrive in the UK in 2020. The UK Ministry of Defence has already signed agreements with the U.S. and Norwegian militaries to cooperate closely on operating their P-8A aircraft across the North Atlantic.