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According to an article in The Sunday Times the Ministry of Defence may have ditched a £2bn plan to buy a fleet Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the RAF to plug the gap left by the retirement of the Nimrod. The purchase of a Nimrod replacement was expected to be announced in the forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) but the newspaper claims the plan to buy the Poseidon, seen as the preferred option, has been shelved after ministers declared that the aircraft were “fiendishly expensive”.
If true then this will raises fears that Britain’s four Vanguard nuclear missile submarines and Britain’s maritime interests at large could be inadequately protected especially in the wake of increased Russian submarine activity. The RAF has already had to rely on its allies at least once when UK waters appeared threatened by an unseen, underwater intruder. There are a number of alternatives to Poseidon with Lockheed Martin offering a heavily modified version of the RAF’s Hercules transport aircraft to fulfil the role earlier this year. It remains to be seen if the scrapping of a Poseidon deal has been made in preference to one of the more affordable options.