In a long awaited announcement, UK prime minister David Cameron on Monday 23 November stated the UK is buying nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as part of a strategic defense review. The decision ends a long period of uncertainty about which aircraft should follow in the footsteps of the famed but retired Nimrod. Futhermore, the UK is creating two more Typhoon squadrons.
The Poseidons will be based at Lossiemouth airbase in Scotland and provide the UK with a much needed longe range submarine hunting capability, search and rescue coverage and other maritime duties. The UK joins the US, India and Australia in operating the type. The Japanese Kawasaki P-1 patrol aircraft was also in the race to replace the Nimrod, but an unlikely candidate from the start.
A statement also says the UK will extend the life of multirole Typhoon fighter aircraft for 10 extra years through to 2040, meaning the Royal Air Force will be able to create 2 additional squadrons. This gives the British a total of frontline 7 squadrons, consisting of around 12 aircraft per squadron. Downing Street also announced an investment in Typhoon’s ground attack capability, plus the addition of the latest Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.
According to sources, London is also said to soon purchase up to 24 F-35B Lightnings to equip its two future aircraft carriers. So far, the British have ordered only ten aircraft, with three already delivered. In total, the UK is planning to get 138 F-35Bs over the next two decades, fulfilling an commitment for the 5th generation and stealthy aircraft made earlier.
Also on the fast jet front, the Panavia Tornado is to retire in 2019, when the final two squadrons hand in their aircraft. Furthermore, 14 out of 24 C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft will remain in service between 2022 and 2030 to serve alongside new Airbus A400M airlifters.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest