A giant Antonov AN-124 cargo aircraft touched down at Glasgow Prestwick Airport on Monday to make an oversized delivery of a new Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) heading to RAF Lossiemouth.
The simulator is one of two that will be installed in the new £100-million strategic facility built by Boeing Defence UK. From Autumn 2020, RAF Lossiemouth will be the headquarters of the UK’s submarine-hunting Poseidon MRA Mk1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft fleet.
The first simulator will be offloaded from the specially chartered Antonov - which took off from Orlando, Florida - and transported by road to RAF Lossiemouth, where it arrived in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The simulators and new facility managed by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) are part of a £470m UK Government investment in the coastal RAF base in Moray, north-east Scotland.
Mark Corden, the Project Manager for Training in the Poseidon delivery team at DE&S, said: “The simulators provide training specifically for the pilots who will be flying the Poseidon fleet. They also have the compatibility to link up with the mission simulators used by the rear crew, allowing them to train together. It’s an essential part of making sure the pilots are fully prepared to operate the new fleet of aircraft.
“The weight of the simulator is not such an issue. It’s the width and height, which make it too big to be transported by any RAF aircraft, such as a C-130J, A400M or C-17. The Antonov is one of only a few aircraft in the world large enough to transport it.”
Known as an OFT, the simulator is provided by Boeing but originally manufactured by CAE. It is 7.39m long, 4.01m wide, 3.73m high and weighs 9,545.45kg (9.5t).
Two OFTs and two rear-crew simulators will eventually be installed in the new strategic facility at RAF Lossiemouth, as well as part-task mission crew trainers, virtual maintenance trainers and electronic classrooms.
• RAF Lossiemouth is one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) stations which protect UK air and sea space. It is home to one (eventually two) frontline submarine hunting Poseidon MRA Mk1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft squadron, four Typhoon combat aircraft squadrons and an RAF Regiment squadron.
• The Poseidon is a multi-role Maritime Patrol Aircraft, equipped with sensors and weapon systems for anti-submarine warfare, surface surveillance and search and rescue missions.
• The first of nine RAF Poseidon aircraft – named Pride of Moray – arrived from the USA and touched down at Kinloss Barracks airfield in February 2020, swiftly followed by the second – named City of Elgin – in March. Both aircraft are currently flying from Kinloss Barracks until the RAF Lossiemouth facility and runway works are completed.
• The Poseidons will permanently move across to their home at RAF Lossiemouth in Autumn 2020. The remaining aircraft on order will continue to arrive in the UK throughout this year and next, with the ninth and final aircraft due by the end of 2021.
• RAF Lossiemouth is home to 2,300 regular and reserve RAF personnel.