The UK, in an effort to better protect its fleet of nuclear submarines, will place an order for Boeing's new generation of spy planes this summer. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK would sign the contract for a P-8 Poseidon jet in the next few months.
This will mark the start of an estimated £2bn (€2.53bn, $2.88bn) defence deal that includes purchasing eight more of such jets from Boeing. The move will increase the country's maritime surveillance capabilities and will ensure protection from the increasing threat posed by Russian submarines, which is said to be examining the nuclear submarine base of the Royal Navy at Faslane.
"This new fleet of maritime patrol aircraft will help to protect our nuclear submarines and I intend to begin ordering them this summer. We can make this investment because we are increasing defence spending every year of this decade. That enables us to meet the NATO 2pc commitment and keep Britain safe," Fallon said.
The announcement by Fallon came during his visit to the US military base in Jacksonville, where the US operates its own P-8 Poseidon jets. He is said to have met the Royal Air Force (RAF) crew who were part of "Project Seedcorn", a skill maintenance programme that allowed the crew to be part of the US P-8 operations, according to The Telegraph.
Plans to order the P-8 Poseidon jet are not new. It was revealed in November 2015 as part of the UK's National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review. While this purchase decision was welcomed as it would enhance the UK's security measures, it also came with some criticism, which was mainly relating to the method of selecting this jet. The government had not called for any tender process, which would have seen other aerospace manufacturers offer their products, thus giving the UK more choice before making the decision.
Boeing will build this P-8 Poseidon jet at its manufacturing base in Washington State, US. The deal will also help the UK's economy to a small extent as Boeing will outsource a small portion of the work involved in making these jets to the UK companies.