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The Boeing P-8A Poseidon is a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft that was developed from the 737-800 airliner for the US Navy to replace the ageing P-3 Orion. Compared to a typical 737 the P-8 features a strengthened stretched fuselage and raked wingtips to allow for sustained low level flight in maritime conditions. The aircraft is also fitted with a suite of sensors including a multi-mission radar, optical trackers and acoustic sensor systems, Indian P-8s also feature a Magnetic Anomaly Detector in the tail. The P-8 has four hardpoints on its wings for carrying of anti-ship missiles and a bomb bay to the rear of the fuselage for carrying anti-ship and anti-submarine torpedoes or rescue equipment. An external advanced reconnaissance radar known as the "Advanced Airborne Sensor" can also be attached to the fuselage.
Until the delivery of the Poseidon MRA.1, the RAF had suffered a capability gap in the maritime patrol and reconnaissance role following the retirement of the Nimrod MR.2 in March 2010 and the cancellation of its replacement, the Nimrod MRA.4 as part of defence cuts during October 2010. In July 2016, the UK Government ordered nine P-8As from Boeing and deliveries commenced during October 2019, initial operational capability was declared in April 2020 and the final aircraft arrive in January 2022. The RAF Poseidon fleet is based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and is flown by 120 and 201 Squadrons.
The RAF will be providing one of their Poseidon MRA1s for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. The aircraft will be provided by 120 Squadron.
Photo Credit: Peter March