U.K. and U.S. Strengthen Maritime Aviation Cooperation
ARLINGTON, Va. — U.K. Minister for Defense Procurement Harriett Baldwin signed a P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) declaration with her U.S. counterpart, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, to further strengthen the uniquely close defense relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States, the U.S. Defense Department announced in a Jan. 25 release.
In 2019, the United Kingdom will receive delivery of its first Poseidon P-8A aircraft and both nations have committed to deepen their defense cooperation when operating in the North Atlantic region. Through seeking opportunities to share logistics and support bases and optimize the use of P-8A aircraft, particularly in Europe, the declaration should ensure increased value for money and operational effectiveness.
“The United States is our pre-eminent ally in global defense and collective security,” Baldwin said. “This declaration is further evidence of how our two countries continue to cooperate and build mutual security, particularly in the North Atlantic region. Backed by a rising defense budget and a £178 billion [$224 billion] Equipment Plan, the P-8A program will provide us with enhanced surveillance capabilities.
“As leading members of NATO, the United Kingdom and the United States are committed to the collective defense of each other and their allies,” she said. “We have also pledged to deepen defense cooperation, bilaterally and within the alliance, to further improve the ability to operate together in exercises and operations.”
The declaration provides a new opportunity to maximize value for money for the taxpayer, continue to strengthen U.K.-U.S. interoperability, and pursue efficiencies in operations and support, including at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lossiemouth in Scotland, where the P-8A will bring some 400 jobs. The Department of Defense and U.K. Ministry of Defence plan to cooperate closely on operation of their P-8A aircraft in the North Atlantic to ensure a coherent approach to MPA activity.
Delivering on the commitment of the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review, the United Kingdom is purchasing nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPAs to be based in Lossiemouth. The aircraft will add to the U.K.’s surveillance capabilities, including conducting anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue and intelligence gathering.
“Today’s signing of the Declaration on P-8A Poseidon Bilateral Cooperation exemplifies the importance and strength of the U.S.-U.K. partnership,” Work said. “This cooperation agreement ensures and deepens our interoperability and maritime patrol capabilities. Together, the U.S. and U.K. will continue to deter regional threats and maintain a robust military posture.”
With the first P-8A aircraft due to arrive in the U.K. in 2019, the RAF has ensured that the U.K. has maintained the skills needed to operate these MPAs through the “seed-corn” program, which has embedded former RAF MPA operators within the MPA squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
“This agreement will enhance the U.K.’s maritime patrol capability and further strengthen U.K.-U.S. defense relations,” said Air Commodore Ian Gale, senior responsible owner for the Poseidon P-8A program. “The arrival of the Poseidon P-8A in 2019 will provide the U.K. with significantly increased capabilities and bring hi-tech employment to Scotland and the wider U.K.”
This agreement follows Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon’s recent visit to Norway, where he also committed to cooperate on MPA operations, ensuring that the United Kingdom will continue to play a key role in delivering collective maritime security across the globe.