As part of their ongoing role to protect UK waters, P8 Poseidon aircraft and crews from RAF Lossiemouth have been working with the Royal Navy to monitor Russian vessels in the North Sea and North Atlantic.
The RAF’s specialist maritime reconnaissance aircraft conducted regular sorties throughout August, working closely with the Royal Navy and NATO to track a range of Russian vessels operating in close proximity to the UK. This included flying 24 hours a day for multiple days, enabled by support personnel at RAF Lossiemouth across the Whole Force within Team Lossie.
Several vessels were associated with the Russian Navy Day, which was held in St Petersburg on 30th July, others joined from the High North. Incorporating a variety of warships, Poseidon tracked and photographed Corvettes Boikiy and Grad, Cruiser Marshal Ustinov, the Udaloy-class Destroyer Severomorsk, and others.
The Poseidons flew from their home base of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, northern Scotland and maintained a close watch on the vessels. These surveillance missions provide a greater understanding of the Russian Navy’s behaviour to help predict future activity and serves as a deterrent to ensure they do not enter UK waters.
The aircraft is flown by both 120 and 201 Squadrons and enabled by a multitude of units including 201 Squadron Engineering and the Tactical Operations Centre. A multi-role maritime reconnaissance aircraft, equipped with a range of modern sensors which give it world leading search and tracking capabilities. One of these is acoustic tracking for which sonobuoys are dropped from the aircraft to provide a network of sensors that relay acoustic data to the aircraft.
"This has been a very busy period for the team from across Poseidon and RAF Lossiemouth, once again generating live operations from UK soil. I am immensely proud of how they all stepped up to the task and just delivered in a highly professional way. The deterrence we have enabled in recent days is important to the UK and NATO, with this a key reason for why Poseidon hold operational readiness 365 days a year."
Wing Commander Livesey
Officer Commanding 120 Squadron
The crews worked closely with HMS Portland, which enabled constant monitoring from both the sea and air. During this period RAF Typhoon aircraft were also launched to intercept Russian aircraft that was believed to be working with the Russian Navy vessels.
With their collective arrays of powerful sensors for locating and tracking, the submarine-hunting frigate and maritime patrol aircraft form a formidable duo for locating and monitoring operations, allowing for constant surveillance from the sea and air.
Having detected a vessel, the aircraft communicated the position, allowing a warship to intercept and track it.
“This is my third time conducting this type of operation and I enjoyed seeing the wide-area search capability that the P-8 brings and working with the RAF aircrew.”
Lieutenant Sam Charleston
One of HMS Portland’s Bridge Watchkeeping Officers
Episode 3 of the Channel 4 documentary 'Top Guns: Inside the RAF', will be broadcast on 4th September and will provide a look behind the scenes of the P8 Poseidon squadrons.