The UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Poseidon MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft has successfully tested the deployment of a new search and rescue (SAR) equipment.

As part of the trials performed off the coast of the Southwest region, a team of engineers loaded the new SAR kit, called UNIPAC-III, aboard the RAF’s Poseidon aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth.

After the kit was loaded, personnel from RAF 206 and CXX Squadrons flew the aircraft and released the UNIPAC-III kit from the aircraft’s weapons bay and dropped it directly into the sea.

RAF CXX Squadron officer commanding wing commander Livesey said: “Dropping stores takes a considerable effort across the team, from storage, transport, loading and preparation for flight.”

UNIPAC-III is a semi-rigid aerial delivery container, which activates as soon as impacting the water. It is used to deliver an inflatable life raft and associated survival equipment to the survivors in distress.

The service informed that the SAR kit can easily support up to 100 people in distress at sea, for a period of three days. It also includes food, water and communications.

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Each Poseidon aircraft can carry up to five systems and the aircraft can also deliver them in a single air drop if needed.

The latest trials have validated the capabilities of the RAF’s Poseidon to ‘organically’ deliver SAR kits on its own. 

RAF Capability Delivery Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) assistant staff chief air commodore A B Hicks said: “The ability to deploy kit, which enables people to survive in a hostile environment until they can be rescued, is a welcome addition to our core capabilities of long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, ISR missions.”

Last August, the RAF’s Poseidon aircraft conducted its first SAR operation rescuing two transatlantic rowers.