The first of nine new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the Royal Air Force is due to arrive at a Scottish airbase after being flown from the United States. The Poseidon MRA1 (Royal Air Force designation for the P-8A) made its initial flight on 13 July 2019. The Royal Air Force took delivery of the first Poseidon MRA1, named Pride of Moray, at Boeing’s Seattle facility on 29 October.The first of the completed P-8A Poseidon planes will operate from nearby Kinloss Barracks, a former RAF station, while new facilities are built at Lossiemouth on the Moray coast, Scotland. It is almost 10 years since the Royal Air Force’s last patrol aircraft were scrapped.
In August 2012, it was reported that Boeing saw the United Kingdom as a market for the P-8, following the cancellation of Nimrod MRA4. On 23 November 2015, the UK announced its intention to order nine P-8s in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. They are to be based at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland and shall protect the UK’s nuclear deterrent and aircraft carriers, as well as perform search-and-rescue and overland reconnaissance missions. On 25 March 2016, the U.S. State Department approved a proposed Foreign Military Sale to the UK for up to nine P-8s and associated support at an estimated cost of $3.2 billion.
The Royal Air Force plans to operate the P-8 with U.S. weapons initially, and may transition to British weapons later. It is unclear whether the UK will have access to future ground-surveillance capabilities developed for the P-8. On 11 July 2016, Boeing announced the signing of a $3.87 billion (£3 billion) contract for nine P-8s and support infrastructure; spread across three production lots over a ten-year period, deliveries shall commence in 2019. The RAF has designated it the Poseidon MRA1. They will be operated by No. 120 Squadron and No. 201 Squadron, which will be reformed in 2021 as the second squadron to be equipped.
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon (formerly Multimission Maritime Aircraft) is a military aircraft developed and produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, modified from the 737-800ERX. The P-8 is being operated in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction roles. It is armed with torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weapons, and is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys, as well as operate in conjunction with other assets, including the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton. The P-8 is operated by the United States Navy, the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF). It has also been ordered by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).