SNP MP demands reassurance over purchase of Lossie-bound P-8A’s

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P-8A crew training begins this year.

AN SNP MP IS DEMANDING reassurance from the UK Government that they will proceed with the full implementation of their maritime patrol aircraft commitment.

The call came as it was revealed this week that a total of 17 maritime patrol aircraft operated by NATO Allies had been deployed to RAF Lossiemouth last year.

That included eight US aircraft with others from Germany, Canada, Norway and France, temporary deployed to Moray to between January and November. SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said that the figures “reaffirmed how disastrous” the decision was to dispose of the RAF’s Kinloss-based Nimrod fleet in 2010.

He said: ”While we are always grateful for support from our allies, they must be acutely aware of the hollowing out of UK defence capability that this maritime patrol deficit highlights. Coming in the same week that we hear the MoD is delaying the security review yet again, we have to ask if the Tories are taking the decisions to address the real threats we face.

“I would like to hear them restate their commitment to purchasing all nine of the promised Poseidon P-8A aircraft.”

However, contracts have already been signed for the P-8A squadrons with groundwork at RAF Lossiemouth well advanced. Around 400 new personnel have already started to arrive at the Moray base where two former Kinloss-based squadrons will be reformed, 120 and 201.

The first RAF crews to be deployed on the squadrons are due to begin their conversion training at Jacksonville in Florida in September this year.

On the use of NATO allies as maritime cover, an MoD spokesman pointed out that there were fewer used last year than in 2016, adding: “We have robust, multi-layered maritime surveillance including both RAF and international allies’ aircraft, as well as sonar-fitted frigates and submarines.

“For the future we are committed to investing £3billion into nine new P-8A Poseidon aircraft to patrol the seas from 2020.”