Defence chiefs dismiss fears over suitability of Lossie-based MPA

P-8A - defence chiefs say it will not require air-to-air refuelling
P-8A – defence chiefs say it will not require air-to-air refuelling

THE UK DEFENCE ministry has moved to dismiss fears that the nine P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft destined for RAF Lossiemouth are not suitable.

Earlier this week a national newspaper reported how Defence Minister Phillip Dunne had to admit that the refuelling system on the P-8A was different to the one used on the RAF’s Voyager.

That, according to the newspaper, would mean that the Poseidon fleet would be restricted to a mission time of just four hours.

Answering opposition questions on the issue Mr Dunne said: “The P-8A uses the ‘boom and receptacle’ method of in-flight refuelling, as such the P-8A will not be able to refuel from RAF Voyagers, which use a different configuration for air-to-air refuelling.”

The P-8A Poseidon is also destined for delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force who have ordered eight of the aircraft with the option on four more.

The RAAF are expecting the first aircraft in 2017 and say that the P-8A is ideal for their operations with its 2000km mission distance from base – however, the aircraft is compatible with their KC-30A multi-role tanker transport.

Yesterday the Ministry of Defence dismissed concerns over the choice of aircraft to replace the Nimrod, saying that for its primary missions it would not require air-to-air operations.

A spokesman said: “The P-8 was selected because it will provide the capability we need in the timescale we require.  It has sufficient fuel capacity to conduct its primary missions without the need for air to air refuelling.”