Although the UK's first Boeing P-8A Poseidon is only in the early stages of production, the Royal Air Force is already making major strides with gaining experience on the maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare type.

Noting that two of the UK's personnel assigned to a "Project Seedcorn" exchange activity have each logged more than 1,000h on the Poseidon, US Navy P-8 programme manager Capt Tony Rossi says: "You have some of the most experienced P-8 operators who will be coming back with those aircraft. You have two to three solid crews before you even really start [in-country] training, so you'll really hit the ground running."

A first UK aircraft is scheduled for acceptance in Seattle by November 2019, and will initially be used to support training in the USA. This will be followed shortly after by a second of the heavily modified 737NG airframes, with the pair to be transferred to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland in 2020, to enable an initial operational capability declaration. A total of nine P-8As will eventually be fielded by the service.

The UK's aircraft will be produced in the Increment 2, engineering change proposal 5 standard, which introduces communication system and radar updates over earlier examples.

Speaking at the Farnborough air show on 17 July, Rossi said New Zealand and Norway should each receive the first of their P-8As during 2022, with the nations acquiring four and five units, respectively.

Boeing currently produces P-8As for the USN and export customers at a rate of 1.5 per month, but Rossi says additional capacity is available should further export deals be made via Washington's Foreign Military Sales system, or to satisfy a follow-on requirement from the USN.

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