UK opens additional US P-8 facilities at RAF Lossiemouth, enhancing integration

P-8
The UK and US have opened new facilities at RAF Lossiemouth to support US Navy (USN) P-8A Poseidon aircraft operations. Two USN P-8As are pictured operating out of Lossiemouth during Exercise ‘Steadfast Defender’, earlier in 2024.

The UK and the United States have further enhanced the integration of their respective P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) operations with the opening of new support facilities at the UK P-8A base at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lossiemouth air station, northeast Scotland.

The new facilities – to support US Navy (USN) P-8A operations, including with washing and barracks spaces – were opened in early May. In a statement, US 6th Fleet said “This significant development is part of a strategic enhancement to support US Naval Forces Europe aircraft, specifically the P-8A, and to bolster the operational interoperability with one of America’s closest allies.”

According to the statement, the new facilities will enhance USN capacity for conducting interdependent and interchangeable operations with the UK, through building greater interoperability.

“These new facilities will play a crucial role in enhancing the collective readiness, responsiveness, deployability, integration, and interoperability of P-8A forces, and our ability to maintain aircraft and support operations in the North Atlantic and across the 6th Fleet area of responsibility,” Captain Aaron Shoemaker, Commanding Officer of US Naval Air Station Sigonella – the USN’s P-8A ‘hub’ in the Euro-Atlantic theatre – said in the statement.

RAF Lossiemouth is home to the UK’s P-8A capability, with its nine Poseidons all based there. Two of these aircraft were deployed to support NATO Allied Maritime Command’s (MARCOM’s) major North Atlantic-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise, ‘Dynamic Mongoose’, in early May. The annual exercise takes places across North Atlantic waters between Iceland and Norway, including covering the Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) Gap. Lossiemouth is located at the southern end of the GIUK Gap, allowing any P-8As based there or operating out of there to have strategic-level influence over this critical maritime choke-point.

USN P-8As are regular visitors to Lossiemouth. In February 2024, two P-8As from Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 – based at Sigonella – deployed to Lossiemouth to support the maritime component of NATO’s alliance-wide exercise ‘Steadfast Defender’. In May, for ‘Dynamic Mongoose’, two P-8As from Sigonella also deployed to Lossiemouth.

by Dr. Lee Willett