Poseidon Agreement Strengthens US, UK Maritime Aviation Cooperation

The British Royal Air Force is purchasing nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to be based in RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland. Pictured here, a P-8A Poseidon aircraft departs Boeing Field in Seattle, heading to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 20, 2014. The aircraft joined other Poseidon aircraft as part of the War Eagles of Patrol Squadron 16, the Navy's first operational P-8A squadron. This flight marked the delivery of the 19th long-range maritime patrol aircraft to the Navy. The multi-mission aircraft, based on the next-generation Boeing 737-800 platform, provides anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and will replace the Navy P-3 Orion fleet

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Washington, DC – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work today signed a P-8A maritime patrol aircraft declaration with British Defense Minister for Procurement Harriett Baldwin to further strengthen the uniquely close defense relationship between the US and the UK, according to a Defense Department news release.

Delivering on the commitment of the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review, the UK is purchasing nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to be based in Royal Air Force Lossiemouth, Scotland, the release said. The aircraft will add to the UK’s surveillance capabilities, including conducting anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue and intelligence gathering.

In 2019, the UK will receive delivery of its first P-8A Poseidon aircraft and both nations have committed to deepen their defense cooperation when operating in the North Atlantic region, according to the release.

US-UK Security Partnership

Work said in the release, “Today’s signing of the declaration on P-8A Poseidon bilateral cooperation exemplifies the importance and strength of the US-UK partnership. This cooperation agreement ensures and deepens our interoperability and maritime patrol capabilities. Together, the US and UK will continue to deter regional threats and maintain a robust military posture.”

Through seeking opportunities to share logistics and support bases and optimize the use of P-8A aircraft, particularly in Europe, the declaration should ensure increased value for money and operational effectiveness, the release said.

Baldwin said, “The United States is our pre-eminent ally in global defense and collective security. This declaration is further evidence of how our two countries continue to cooperate and build mutual security, particularly in the North Atlantic region. Backed by a rising defense budget and a [$224 billion] equipment plan, the P-8A program will provide us with enhanced surveillance capabilities.”

NATO Alliance

As leading members of NATO, the UK and US are committed to the collective defense of each other and their allies, the release said. The two nations also have pledged to deepen defense cooperation, bilaterally and within the alliance, to further improve the ability to operate together in exercises and operations.

The declaration provides a new opportunity to maximize value for money for the taxpayer and continue to strengthen US-UK interoperability, and to pursue efficiencies in operations and support, including at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, where the P-8A will bring some 400-plus jobs.

The Defense Department and the UK Ministry of Defense plan to cooperate closely on operation of their P-8A aircraft in the North Atlantic to ensure a coherent approach to maritime patrol aircraft activity, the release said.

The RAF has ensured that the UK has maintained the skills needed to operate the P-8As through the ‘seed-corn’ program, which has embedded former RAF military patrol aircraft operators within the maritime patrol aircraft squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, the release said.

Air Commodore Ian Gale, the senior responsible owner for the UK’s Poseidon P-8A program, said, “This agreement will enhance the UK’s maritime patrol capability and further strengthen UK-US defense relations. The arrival of the Poseidon P-8A in 2019 will provide the UK with significantly increased capabilities and bring hi-tech employment to Scotland and the wider UK.”

This agreement follows British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon’s recent visit to Norway, where he also committed to cooperate on maritime patrol aircraft operations, ensuring that the UK will continue to play a key role in delivering collective maritime security across the globe, according to the release.

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