RAF: P8 Poseidon operations in August 2023

A RAF Poseidon flanked by two Typhoons in flight.
Photo Credit: Lewis Chesworth/AviationSource

As part of their ongoing role to protect UK waters, P8 Poseidon aircraft and crews from RAF Lossiemouth have been working with the Royal Navy to monitor Russian vessels in the North Sea and North Atlantic.

As August has drawn to a close, the RAF looks back on its extensive use of its specialist maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the Boeing P8 Poseidon.

Poseidon operations in August

The aircraft, of which the Royal Air Force has 9 examples based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, has been seen conducting regular sorties throughout this past month, tracking Russian vessels operating in close proximity to the UK.

During these sorties, Poseidon pilots have been working closely with the Royal Navy and NATO in order to hunt down the vessels.

As a result of the increased activity from Russian vessels in locations such as the North Sea and North Atlantic, P8 operations have seen 24/7 usage to ensure the threat of enemy activity is kept to a minimum.

One notable day in the last month, was the Russian Navy Day on the 30th July, where several vessels from the Russian Naval fleet gathered in close proximity to the UK

As a result Poseidon’s were assigned with the task of collecting data, gathering photos and keeping a watchful eye on the ships as they lurked to ensure they were not posing any threat to UK security.


Photo Credit: Royal Air Force

In addition, this helped gather information on the ship’s general activity and behaviour, which has allowed the air force to gain a better understanding of what the ships do as well as to help predict future activity.

Furthermore, the presence of the Poseidon watching over the Russian Navy serves as a deterrent to the vessels to keep them at bay from escalating any potential conflict.

Photo Credit: Royal Air Force

About the RAF’s P8 Poseidon

The Royal Air Force first ordered the P8 Poseidon back in 2015 as result of the cancellation of the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MRA4.

The MRA4 variant of the Nimrod was initially designed as a modernised and upgraded version of the existing Nimrod serving the purpose of maritime reconnaissance for the RAF. However the plans unfortunately fell through, then leading to the order for the Poseidon.

As mentioned previously the RAF operates a fleet of 9 P8s, which is the amount ordered back in 2015. The first P8 arrived in February 2020, with the 9th and final one arriving 2 years later in January 2022.

The aircraft are operated by 120 and 201 Squadrons and are supported by a multitude of units including 201 Squadron Engineering and Tactical Operations Centre.

The aircraft is equipped with a wide range of state of the art technology tailored specifically to the Poseidon’s capabilities.

Equipment such as modern sensors give the P8 world leading search and tracking capabilities. One such sensor is acoustic tracking for which sonobuoys are dropped from the aircraft to provide a network of sensors that relay acoustic data to the aircraft.

Wing Commander Livesey praises successful operation

“This has been a very busy period for the team from across the Poseidon and RAF Lossiemouth, once again generating live operations from UK soil”, said Wing Commander Livesey, Officer Commanding, 120 Squadron.

He added, “I am immensely proud of how they all stepped up to the task and just delivered in a highly professional way. The deterrence we have enabled in recent days is important to the UK and NATO, with this key reason for why Poseidon hold operational readiness 365 days a year.”

With the presence of Russian Navy vessels not showing any signs of reducing any time soon, the readiness of the Poseidon fleet remains imperative.

With August over, the teams at 120 and 201 Squadrons look ahead to continued operations in defending UK waters.

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By Lewis Chesworth 5 Min Read
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