Boeing announced today that the first of the RAF's new maritime patrol aircraft has made its maiden flight in the skies over Renton, Washington. Attended by British Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Royal Air Force personnel as well as Boeing P-8 program leaders, the twin-engine P-8A Poseidon jet took off at 10:00 am on July 12 for a 90-minute test flight that will be followed by the installation of military systems.

The first of nine aircraft for the RAF, the officially designated Poseidon MRA1 ZP801, will now transfer to Boeing's facility in Tukwila, Washington for systems installations before going on to US Naval Station Jacksonville, Florida for training with British personnel, and then on to its permanent home at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland next year, where it replaces the now scrapped Nimrod MRA4 patrol aircraft.

Once certified for active duty, the Poseidon MRA1 will serve with No. 120 Squadron and No. 201 Squadron to provide maritime surveillance, search and rescue, overland reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-ship warfare capabilities with its primary mission being the protection of Britain's Independent Nuclear Deterrent and its Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. At first, the Poseidons will use US systems, but will later be equipped with British versions.

Costing a total of $3.87 billion (US£3 billion), the RAF Poseidon MRA1s are a variant on the P-8 Poseidons that have served with the US Navy since November 2013. It's based on the 737-800ERX commercial airliner and will be delivered in three production lots over the next decade.

"This is a great milestone in the UK P-8A Poseidon's journey to the UK, as we are one step closer to its arrival in Scotland," says Air Commodore Richard Barrow, the senior responsible owner for the UK's P-8A program. "The platform will enhance the UK's maritime patrol capability with advanced, state-of-the-art technology."

Source: Boeing