Natural Partners” Strengthen Collaboration
Flying in a US P-8A POSEIDON Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from RAF Lossiemouth on 3 May, British Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb and Norwegian State Secretary Tone Skogen advanced their respective nations’ plans for further cooperation regarding MPA operations in the North Atlantic, a key area for submarine activity and anti-submarine warfare.
Norway and the UK will both be receiving POSEIDONs in the near future – five for the former, nine for the UK. Areas of probable cooperation under discussion include maintenance and training, both of which could cut costs and boost operational effectiveness.
“These sub-hunters will take to the skies from RAF Lossiemouth and help us combat a range of intensifying threats, not least increasing submarine activity in the North Atlantic. We’re investing £3bn in our own capability, but working alongside Norway takes this to a higher level. Not only could we cut costs by sharing training, spares and repair facilities, but we can patrol the seas together, meaning we’ve got more eyes and ears on any potential aggressors,” explained Bebb.
“Norway and the UK are natural partners given our shared values, as well as our history and geography. We can even further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation related to high-end capabilities such as the F-35 fighter and the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft. In my discussions with Guto Bebb, Minister for Defence Procurement, I find a like-minded ally. The UK and Norway continue to stand together in training and exercises in the North Atlantic and the Northern region, as well as operationalisation of the Joint Expeditionary Force,” added Skogen.
The UK’s POSEIDONs will be based at Lossiemouth, where a new £132 million facility (including a tactical operations centre, an operational conversion unit, squadron accommodation, training and simulation facilities and a three-bay aircraft shelter) will be completed by 2020, at the same time as initial operating capability for the aircraft is planned to be declared. When the fleet is fully operational, some 470 additional service personnel will be based at RAF Lossiemouth, taking the total number of people employed there to 2,200. Further roles are also expected when the training and support services are established at the new facility.