UK starts construction of new maritime patrol aircraft hub

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The UK defense secretary cut the first turf on April 19 for a new facility at RAF Lossiemouth which will house the UK’s new fleet of Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).

The £132m site will be the future home to the country’s nine-strong, new P-8A Poseidon MPA fleet.

The aircraft’s key role will be to protect the UK’s submarine-deployed nuclear deterrent and its two new aircraft carriers, whilst it can also deploy missiles capable of destroying enemy submarines beneath the sea.

The aircraft will work alongside eight new Type 26 warfare frigates. Later on Thursday, the defense secretary Gavin Williamson visited the BAE Systems shipyard to view the first completed unit of the lead anti-submarine warship, HMS Glasgow, in the shipbuilding hall where it is being connected to the second unit and will be joined by others as the ship takes shape.

The MOD is investing £3 billion over the next decade in its Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability, and last year confirmed £3.7bn to start building the first three of eight Royal Navy Type 26 frigates on the Clyde as it continues to boost its capabilities.

“These submarine hunters will play a vital role in keeping the UK safe from the increasing threats and aggression we face in the skies, on the sea and below the waves,”  Williamson said. “This massive investment demonstrates the huge contribution Scotland makes to protecting Britain and how defense generates prosperity and opportunity.”

The new Lossiemouth facility will be completed in 2020, to coincide with initial operating capability of the Poseidon aircraft being available in the UK. Built by Elgin-based Robertson Northern, it will comprise a tactical operations centre, an operational conversion unit, squadron accommodation, training and simulation facilities and a three-bay aircraft hangar.

At the peak of construction, the project will support 200 local jobs. When the fleet is fully operational, some 470 additional 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.

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