First Of RAF’s New UK Submarine Hunters Due In Scotland


First Of RAF’s New UK Submarine Hunters Due In Scotland

The first of nine new maritime patrol aircraft for the RAF is due to arrive at a Scottish air force station after being flown from the United States.

The £3bn fleet of P-8A Poseidons are to be stationed at RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray coast.

The first of the completed planes will operate from nearby Kinloss Barracks, a former RAF station, while new facilities are built at Lossiemouth.

It is almost 10 years since the RAF’s last patrol aircraft were scrapped.

The last of those jet aircraft, called Nimrods, flew out of RAF Kinloss in 2010. New Nimrods were turned to scrap as part of defence cuts, but not replaced by another type of plane.

A review in 2015 led to the Ministry of Defence ordering the P-8A Poseidons from US aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

The RAF crews will operate alongside the Royal Navy in a submarine hunter role, and in work identifying and tracking surface vessels.

The first of the completed Poseidons has been named the Pride of Moray. It is expected to move from Kinloss to Lossiemouth by the end of this year.

Sqd Ldr Dave Higgins will be among the crew board Tuesday’s flight to Kinloss following training in the US.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “It is a huge honour to be on that historic flight.

“For some of us there is much excitement because myself and my colleagues know how capable this aircraft is going to be.

“They are multi-mission aircraft with a variety of sensors that can fuse together so the crew can see lots of different types of information.”

  • Equipped with “state-of-the-art sensors” enabling it to detect, identify and track vessels both above and below water
  • Will be flown from RAF Lossiemouth by two squadrons: CXX Sqd and the still to be fully operational 201 Sqd
  • Crews have been training on the aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in the US
  • £132m of improvements being made at Lossiemouth to accommodate the fleet and its crews, including a new “strategic facility” to house and maintain the aircraft and personnel. The investment includes £75m in resurfacing runways

Joe Kennedy, who flew on Nimrods for more than 30 years, said the decision to scrap the planes and not immediately replace them with new maritime patrol aircraft still felt shocking almost 10 years later.

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He said: “We all felt incredibly sad this fantastic aeroplane was coming to an end of its life.

“In my personal opinion I think it was a great loss and I think a lot of us thought it inconceivable that we lose the maritime patrol capability with nothing to replace it.”

Mr Kennedy said he was “delighted” the RAF would soon have a fleet of Poseidons.

Moray councillor James Allan said the arrival of the new personnel would bring benefits to the local community.

He said: “It’s great for Lossiemouth, which is a small place.

“We have a new school being built just now and a new community centre and swimming pool. It will also be great for our economy.”

First Of RAF’s New UK Submarine Hunters Due In Scotland


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