The first of nine new Nimrod MRA4 maritime surveillance aircraft has been delivered to the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) for a series of acceptance tests.

The RAF will use the BAE-designed Nimrod, designated PA04, for maritime duties such as anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, maritime reconnaissance, intelligence collection, search and rescue, and attack.

The MRA4 will include an advanced technical and mission capability and a fully integrated training system and logistics support package to increase operational effectiveness.

It will be equipped with 90 antennae and sensors, as well as six million lines of software code, to scan an area the size of the UK every ten seconds.

The PA04 will be able to fly 6,000 miles or 14 hours without refuelling.

Once commissioned, it will begin operating out its main base at Kinloss, Scotland, later this year.

The RAF will receive the final MRA4 aircraft by 2012.