NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson visits RAF Lossiemouth

Poseidon at Lossiemouth
Image caption The P-8A Poseidon's duties will include search and rescue

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has visited RAF Lossiemouth as construction begins on a new strategic facility to house new maritime patrol aircraft.

The first of the new Poseidon planes will arrive at the Moray base in 2020.

The UK's last dedicated maritime patrol planes flew out of RAF Kinloss in 2010.

Mr Williamson was taking part in a ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction phase for the £132m facility.

Spy in the sky: P-8A Poseidon

  • First of the new aircraft due to arrive in 2020
  • Planes to be used in anti-submarine and also maritime search and rescue roles
  • UK air crews have maintained maritime patrol skills by training with squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and US
  • More than 400 additional service personnel are to be stationed at Lossiemouth to work in the new squadrons
  • £400m to be invested in support infrastructure for the planes

The development - being built by Elgin-based Robertson Northern - will include new hangers, engineering workshops, and mission-planning facilities.

The new aircraft will be used in anti-submarine missions, reconnaissance and also maritime search and rescue roles.

'Huge contribution'

Mr Williamson said: "These submarine hunters will play a vital role in keeping the UK safe from the increasing threats and aggression we face in the skies, on the sea and below the waves.

"This massive investment demonstrates the huge contribution Scotland makes to protecting Britain and how defence generates prosperity and opportunity.

"Moray is benefiting from 200 local construction jobs during this building phase, with the number of personnel employed at RAF Lossiemouth growing by 470 to 2,200 people when this is complete."

Economy Secretary Keith Brown has called for "urgent assurances" on defence sites and the future of the Royal Marines in Scotland.

An MoD spokesman said: "The UK government is committed to an enduring defence presence in Scotland with more than 20,000 service personnel and MoD civilian staff, spending £1.6bn a year with Scottish industry, supporting 10,500 Scottish private sector jobs and ensuring that Clyde shipyards have 20 years' worth of work."

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