First RAF P-8A Poseidon Crews Begin Training in USA

US Navy P-8A Poseidon 168428 ‘LL-428’ from VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville flies over the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) on October 16, 2012. RAF Poseidon aircrews have recently begun training on the type with VP-30. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike DiMestico

TRAINING HAS begun of the first Royal Air Force personnel in preparation for delivery of the first RAF P-8A Poseidon MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft, which is scheduled for October of this year,  The RAF announced on January 21 that aircrew and engineers from CXX Squadron and Poseidon Line Squadron have begun training at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, with Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30) ‘Pro’s Nest’, the US Navy’s Fleet Replacement Squadron for the type.

The initial cadre comprises 38 personnel, drawn from RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, where the RAF aircraft will be based.  They arrived in the US during the first weeks of January and comprise a mix of pilots, weapon systems officers and ground crew.  Training of RAF personnel in the USA will be carried out over the next three years, prior to the RAF transitioning to training all Poseidon personnel in the UK at Lossiemouth.  Each training course takes approximately six-months to complete.  The final US-based training course is expected to conclude around the summer of 2021.

When the first of the nine RAF Poseidons on order enters service, it will initially be based at NAS Jacksonville, prior to arriving in Scotland in spring 2020.  Manufacturing of components for the first RAF aircraft is currently under way and construction will begin in the next few weeks.

Under the RAF’s Seedcorn programme, a number of UK aircrew have been stationed at Jacksonville since 2012 in order to maintain personnel in the RAF with a maritime patrol aircraft capability.  These have included 12 RAF instructors with VP-30.

The Officer Commanding (OC) CXX Squadron is Wing Commander James Hanson.  On January 26, Air Commodore Ian Gale, Senior Responsible Owner for the RAF P-8A programme, announced that Wing Commander Ads Smolak will be OC of the second RAF P-8A unit, 201 Squadron, which will operate alongside CXX Squadron at Lossiemouth.