15 May 2018

Royal Air Force makes final preparations for the P-8A Poseidon

Royal Air Force personnel will be primed and ready to crew the very first P-8A Poseidon maritime aircraft once it arrives at RAF Lossiemouth, thanks in part to time spent embedded within the ranks of the US Navy.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland currently houses Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1) – a US Navy regiment which accommodates eight RAF personnel in support of the P-8A Poseidon test programme.

“We’re fully embedded in the P-8A Test and Evaluation process, which drives incremental improvements and updates to the USN’s frontline fleet,” said Squadron Leader John Ryder, one of two RAF pilots serving in the squadron.

“Specifically we’re focused on Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) – a process mandated by the US Congress. During OT&E we assess the aircraft’s effectiveness and suitability for operations but we also assist with Developmental Test & Evaluation, which verifies that technical performance specifications have been met. Therefore, since 2012 VX-1’s RAF team have been a core component in making a state of the art aircraft even more capable.

“Consequently, by the time the UK’s first aircraft leaves the Boeing production line, it’s going to be an extremely versatile and well proven platform.”

VX-1 is also responsible for developing tactics – valuable experience that the RAF personnel will look to bring back with them once they return to Britain. Squadron Leader Ryder continued: “I flew numerous anti-submarine warfare serials on P-8A from Scotland during Exercise Joint Warrior in 2012 and the aircraft did the business. From that point onward, P-8A has only got better.

“More importantly we’re going to have current, proficient and experienced RAF personnel ready to operate a UK flagged P-8A the moment we get it. In fact, US Seedcorn has achieved more than 15,000 hours on the aircraft already, with many operators having over 1,000 hours each.”

The RAF is to receive nine P-8A Poseidon maritime aircraft. These will be operated by 120 and 201 Squadrons based at RAF Lossiemouth.

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Image courtesy of the Royal Air Force

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