Above: The first RAF P-8A Poseidon MRA1, ZP801/N456DS, taking off from Renton on Friday. July 12, for its maiden flight. MOD Crown Copyright/RAF
BOEING HAS flown the first P-8A Poseidon MRA1 for the Royal Air Force. The aircraft, ZP801 (c/n 64175, line number 7532) ‘Pride of Moray’, wearing temporary test registration N456DS, took to the air for the first time on Friday, July 13, from Renton, Washington, using callsign ‘Boeing 171’ and flown by Boeing test pilots. It has now been repositioned from Boeing Commercial Airplanes facility at Renton to Boeing Defense, Space and Security at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, to be fitted out with the Poseidon-specific military systems. The aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Air Force, initially at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, in October 2019 and is due to arrive in the UK in early-Spring 2020.
Air Commodore Richard Barrow, Senior Responsible Owner for the Poseidon Programme, said: “The first cadre of RAF engineers and aircrew have been trained on the P-8A Poseidon which marks the resurgence of the RAF’s long-range maritime patrol capability. The Poseidon MRA Mk 1 will enhance the UK’s maritime patrol capability with advanced, state-of-the-art, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare sensors.” Poseidon ZP801 also already carries the name ‘Pride of Moray’ on the forward fuselage. This name celebrates the maritime patrol aircraft heritage of Moray as well as looking forward to the Poseidon’s future home at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland. Nine of the type are on order for operation by 120 and 201 Squadrons at Lossiemouth. The second aircraft, ZP802, is also now in the early stages of build.
Boeing was awarded a new contract related to the UK P-8A on July 11 to procure contractor logistics support for the RAF P-8A programme and aircraft. The $23,375,361 cost-plus-fixed-fee Foreign Military Sales order from US Naval Air Systems Command includes initial acceptance and breakdown of four aircraft and provision of training with an eight-month detachment to the UK to establish initial operational capability as well as subsequent full operational capability, scheduled aircraft maintenance, support equipment maintenance, engineering reach back and technical assistance. The contract is expected to be completed in December 2020.