RAF Wants More Maritime Patrol Aircraft to Fend Off ‘Frightening’ Russian Sub Capability
17:28 GMT 19.06.2022 (Updated: 17:30 GMT 19.06.2022)
The escalation of the crisis in Ukraine has turned into a bonanza for Western arms manufacturers. In the UK, Prime Minister Johnson has been urged by both Tory and Labour lawmakers to ramp up defence spending. Meanwhile, Army chief Patrick Sanders has indicated that Britain’s ground forces must be prepared to engage and defeat Russia in Europe.
The Royal Air Force urgently needs additional maritime patrol aircraft to fend off an “expansionist” Russia and its “frightening” submarine fleet, a pair of Royal Air Force commanders have told
Wing Commander Ben Livesy informed the outlet that if Britain doesn’t increase its fleet of Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft from nine to 12 post-haste, a British “credible response” to the “aggressive” and “expansionist” Russians would be “tested to the limit.”
“We have a time-banded opportunity to do so,” the officer stressed, suggesting it would make “economic sense” to buy the £120 million ($147 million) apiece planes from Boeing as soon as possible.
“We have the ability in our arsenal to respond to [Russia]. If you do defence on the cheap, you do not have that credible response…You get worse sensors, cannot travel as far and spend less time in the air,” Livesy said.
Wing Commander James Henderson echoed his comrade’s concerns. “Having an extra three [P8s] would give us an increased ability to protect carriers from Russian attacks. They have invested more into their navy, they have got new submarines. It poses a threat to us…it is quite frightening,” he said.
The UK’s existing P8s operate out of Lossiemouth in northeastern Scotland, and search for foreign subs by using 129 onboard £5,000 apiece ($6,100) sonobuoys dropped into the water. The maritime patrol aircraft can also be equipped with Mark 54 torpedoes, manufactured by Raytheon.
“We are seeing behaviour by an expansionist Russia that some people would never have expected. Our fleets are being used more than ever expected,” Livesy said, pointing to a “doubling” of Russian subs detected by the RAF today compared to a decade ago. He did not elaborate on the other aspects of this so-called "expansionist" "behaviour."
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston assured The Telegraph that Britain’s existing fleet of P8s was sufficient.
“From the High North to the Mediterranean and beyond, our Poseidon crews are there, patrolling our seas, protecting our nuclear deterrent submarines, and working side-by-side with the Royal Navy, and our NATO and international allies. With Poseidon on task, Russian submarines have nowhere to hide,” Wigston said.
15 January 2022, 15:52 GMT
Boeing began manufacturing P-8s in the late 2000s, with the aircraft meant to succeed the Lockheed P-3 Orion, a Cold War maritime patrol aircraft design. Along with the US Navy and the RAF, the planes are operated by Australia, New Zealand, India, and Norway, with South Korea and Germany expecting to take delivery of their own later this year and in 2024, respectively.