THE UNITED STATES Government have paved the way for the sale of nine P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft to be sold to the UK.
According to reports from Washington, the $3.2billion deal has been approved by the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), who oversee foreign arms sales – and while Congress have 15 days to block the sale it is believe unlikely that would happen given the close ties between the two nations.
The decision is a major step in the move that will eventually see the aircraft being based at RAF Lossiemouth, returning the RAF once again to self-sufficiency in maritime air defence and filling the hole left when the Nimrod replacement programme was scrapped.
While no timetable has been given for the arrival of the P-8A’s in Moray, the intention is that $16.96billion (£12billion) has been budgeted for defence spending in the next five years rising to $178billion (£178billion) in ten years.
The DSCA took the decision after noting that the RAF had retained ‘core skills’ in maritime patrol and reconnaissance after the retirement of the Nimrod, with many former crews taking part in exchange programmes that has seen a build-up of experience on the P-8A with a number of allied nations.
Former RAF Lossiemouth station commander Air Commodore Ian Gale is overseeing the establishment of the new maritime air facilities at Lossiemouth.