MORAY’S ELECTED LEADERS have been commenting on the vital importance of the expansion of RAF Lossiemouth following their briefing and flight on one of the Boeing P-8A aircraft from the Moray base on Friday.
While not the first civilians to experience a flight on one of the three US Navy P-8A visiting the Moray base, the Moray Council and Scottish Parliament VIP’s are likely the most influential local representatives to have been given an airborne glimpse of the future.
Nine P-8A’s are currently on order and all will be based at Lossiemouth – with RAF crews having started training with the US Navy on the aircraft just weeks after the UK Government scrapped plans to further develop the ageing Nimrod, based on an airframe that first flew over the UK in 1952. The visitors were also told exactly why the airfield at Kinloss was not deemed suitable for the new aircraft.
Included in the official party given a briefing by US Navy and RAF personnel on Friday was Regional MSP Douglas Ross, who said it was a “once in a lifetime” thrill to fly just a few hundred feet above the waves of the Moray Firth.
He said: “I sat in the cockpit as we returned to Lossiemouth and saw some stunning views of Moray – and learned of the work that goes on in the flight deck during landing. Earlier we learned much about the range of activities that the aircraft can undertake – and it was stunning.
“It was very useful for local representatives in Moray to be given the chance to understand more about the P-8A and what they will bring to UK Defence.”
Also on the flight was the chairman of the Moray Economic Partnership, Councillor John Cowe, who said: “It was great to be able to learn more about the aircraft and the role it will have, how the aircraft can easily be extended well beyond the lifespan that was originally envisaged.
“Moray is now fortunate to be in the position where our air base will likely be the number-one in importance for UK Defence – that will bring benefits to our region that could be simply phenomenal.”
During the briefing Air Commodore Ian Gale revealed why the former Nimrod base at Kinloss was not considered as a home for the RAF’s P-8A programme.
He explained that the Kinloss runway was 500feet shorter than Lossiemouth – meaning that if it was to be used it would first require a complete upgrade. In addition, the P-8A undercarriage configuration is narrower than the Nimrod – meaning that a much heavier weight is confined to a smaller area.
The depth, length and strength of the Kinloss runway would need to be addressed for that reason – and that put Lossiemouth firmly in control of the new aircraft.
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