INNOVATION FUTURE EQUIPMENT
Embedded interoperability with the F-35B will enable the two aircraft to act as joint-force multipliers in the future
systems. Gale notes how the RAF is embedding a spirit of innovation and inspiration into the introduction of the new aircraft. “The P-8 has been designed from the outset with interoperability with systems like the F-35 in mind; consequently, there is significant potential for the F-35 and P-8 to act as mutual force multipliers. Beyond that, there are also some exciting possibilities for the P-8 to work with, and even control, unmanned platforms in the future. Some of these may even be launched out of the aircraft’s own sonobuoy tubes in the future.” For existing UK aircraft, the RAF is ensuring that P-8As have a seamless link with the Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopters. In terms of protecting the new carriers, the fusion of P-8A, F-35B and Merlins represents a formidable concept.
“TOGETHER, WE’RE PROUD TO BE DELIVERING THIS MUCHNEEDED CAPABILITY FOR THE UK” PROJECT SEEDCORN To preserve maritime patrol skills and knowledge over the past five years, RAF crews have been embedded in the MPA forces of allies around the world. “In 2011 and 2012 the UK arranged for experienced RAF maritime patrol operators to be seconded to other allied nations,” says Gale.
Under Project Seedcorn, aircrew were sent to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US. This proved to be a mutually beneficial process. “The high calibre of personnel seconded to these nations enabled the UK to make an important contribution to all of their respective MPA forces across the full breadth of requirements, including the front-line, instruction, weapons, tactics and test and evaluation. They have even won prizes in the other nations during that time,” says Gale. Crucially, the personnel that were seconded to the US Navy have been operating the P-8A Poseidon since 2012, which will stand them in good stead for the RAF P-8A units. Since the P-8A is based on the Boeing 737, it is straightforward to fly, and the modern, open architecture mission systems mean that training has been “straightforward and swift,” according to Gale. With the P-8A entry-into-service schedule now under active consideration, and with the first aircraft expected to be available before the end of this parliament, Gale has a significant task ahead of him: “My role as Senior Responsible Owner is to use the funding given to me by the Joint Forces Command and ensure that all of the things that make up a capability – for example the training, infrastructure and manpower as well as the aircraft itself – are all delivered on time and to cost.” To achieve this, he has a programme-management team at Air Command, working closely with the defence equipment and support team in Bristol. “Together, we’re proud to be delivering this muchneeded capability for the UK and look forward to the nine aircraft taking up residence at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray in a few years’ time,” he concludes.
AIR POWER 2016 INSPIRATION AND INNOVATION
2.2 Introducing the P-8 MMA.indd 48
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