UK Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots who fly the nation’s fleet of P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will receive training under a $321.6 million contract announced by Boeing on Thursday.
“This contract with Boeing Defense UK secures our critical submarine-hunting aircraft capabilities whilst also creating a home-grown training enterprise and creating over 150 British jobs,” UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a press release issued by Boeing.
Boeing will provide maintenance services, spares and repairs, including tools and ground support equipment, as well as supply chain management, forecasting and inventory management, and airworthiness services for the RAF’s P-8 fleet, the release said.
The RAF has contracted for nine Poseidon aircraft with five already delivered and the remaining four scheduled for later this year, the release added.
In addition, the second of two operational training aircraft, jointly developed by Boeing and UK defense company CAE, arrived at the RAF Lossiemouth base in Scotland last month, according to the release.
The contract is expected to create 150 jobs in addition to about 2,500 Boeing workers now employed in the UK, the release said.
Earlier in June this year, the At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield (ASD/FS) exercise in the North Atlantic featured the first-ever firing of the Harpoon anti-ship missiles from a US P-8A Poseidon marine patrol aircraft.
“Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) successfully conducted a coordinated missile launch with VP-40 using two Air to Surface Missile (AGM-84D) Harpoons against a target barge off the coast of Norway during exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield (ASD/FS), May 31, 2021,” a Navy press release said. “This marked the first use of Harpoon missiles by P-8A Poseidons in the European theater.”
Throughout the live-fire air and missile defense exercise, NATO forces conducted live engagements with Driven Ammunition Reduced Time of flight (DART) munitions, Standard Missile-2, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), Aster 15, and Aster 30 missiles against various targets, including subsonic Banshee, Mirach, and Firejet targets and ground-launched supersonic drone (GQM-163A) targets, the release said. Additionally, ballistic missile defense tests with Standard Missile-3 launches were conducted.
At-Sea Demonstration is a recurring live maritime exercise planned and supported by the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum (MTMD-F), a coalition of twelve nations, the release said.
Formidable Shield is a biennial training exercise led by US Sixth Fleet and conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO which aims to improve allied interoperability in a live-fire, integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) environment using NATO command and control reporting structures, the release added.
In total, approximately 3,300 personnel, 16 naval vessels, and more than 10 aircraft participated in the training exercise conducted on the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s Hebrides Range located on the Western Isles of Scotland and the Andøya Space Defense facility in Andenes, Norway, according to the release.
Alongside the United States, participating nations included Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom