Above: The first RAF P-8A Poseidon MRA1, ZP801, in final assembly at Renton earlier this month. MOD Crown Copyright/RAF
BOEING HAS begun final assembly of the first P-8A Poseidon MRA1 for the Royal Air Force. On May 7 the RAF confirmed that the wings had been joined to the fuselage of the aircraft, ZP801 (line number 7532), on the production line in Renton, Washington, while by May 14 the tail fin had also been fitted.
Maiden flight is scheduled to take place in October. Nine of the type are on order for operation by 120 and 201 Squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray.
In a further development with the programme, CAE Inc announced on May 13 that it has received a contract from Boeing to provide simulator hardware for an additional P-8A operational flight trainer (OFT) for the RAF. This followed a contract last year to design and manufacture hardware for the first RAF OFT. The P-8 OFTs for the RAF will be similar to those that CAE and Boeing have already developed for the US Navy and Royal Australian Air Force. The P-8A OFTs for the RAF are scheduled for delivery to Lossiemouth in 2021.