The UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) multi-role Poseidon MRA1 (P-8A) aircraft has achieved a new milestone with the successful release of a torpedo for the first time.

The P-8A aircraft, operated by RAF Lossiemouth-based 120 Squadron, released a recoverable exercise variant of the Mark 54 Lightweight Torpedo.

Poseidon was conducting a training flight over the Moray Firth and dropped the weapon to simulate an attack on a submarine.

The RAF noted that the Mk 54 torpedo, which is 3m in length and has a diameter of 32cm, can fit in the Poseidon aircraft’s internal weapons bay.

The high-explosive warheads equipped on the live torpedoes are capable of destroying enemy submarines, which the Poseidon crew can detect and track using advanced equipment.

Torpedo project lead and squadron leader Higgins said: “It’s been a great privilege to witness the hard work of so many talented individuals across the Royal Air Force, civil service and industry partners come together to enable us to launch and recover this torpedo.

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“This exercise has proved everything is in place for our weapon technicians to rapidly get these torpedoes onto our aircraft, so we can deliver them wherever and whenever they are needed.”

In 2016, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a contract to Boeing for nine P-8As under a foreign military sale programme of the US Government.

Currently, five Poseidon MRA1s are based at RAF Lossiemouth and the remaining four are set to be delivered this year-end.

The Poseidon is equipped with advanced anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare sensors to provide global protection to British and allied submarines and ships.

The RAF received its fifth Poseidon, named Fulmar, from Boeing in February.

The service received the third aircraft in October last year and the fourth unit a month later in November.