The UK Royal Navy and its Norwegian counterpart have purchased a large fleet of U.S.-made P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to stop what they call Russia’s growing submarine activity near their territorial waters.
The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Monday that it had put in orders for a total of nine advanced Boeing airplanes, commonly known as sub-hunters, and expects the first aircraft to be delivered next year.
Norway, on the other hand, has purchased five P-8As and will use a Royal Air Force base in Scotland to operate them.
In a joint statement signed by the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD), Norway, and the United States, the NATO allies said the aircraft would help balance the “changing security environment” in the North Atlantic, the Express reported.
The same document suggested that a “significant increase in Russian submarine activity” had put NATO forces in the region at risk.
The statement echoed recent remarks by UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, who in March accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “aggression” in the Atlantic.
Calling on his country to “wake up” to the threat posed by Russia, Williamson told lawmakers in the parliament that increased Russian activity in the Atlantic “shows the increasing aggression and increasing assertiveness of Russia.”
Last year, the Royal Navy sent warships and aircraft to escort Russian naval fleets passing through the English Channel a total of 33 times.
Submarines are thought to be the backbone of Russia’s naval power as the country is believed to have an estimated 60-70 of them on active duty.
P-8 aircraft are specifically designed to detect submersibles and conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare by firing a range of weapons including torpedoes, depth charges and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. It also has advanced surveillance equipment aboard.
Plans for joint operations between the UK and Norway received a boost in May when Tone Skogen, a State Secretary in Norway's Ministry of Defense, visited RAF Lossiemouth.
"Norway and the UK are natural partners given our shared values, as well as our history and geography,” she said during the visit. “We can even further strengthen bilateral defense cooperation related to high-end capabilities such as the F-35 fighter and the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft."
A UK MoD spokesman told British media that London was looking forward to expand cooperation with Oslo to enhance NATO’s security by leveraging the P-8A aircraft’s capabilities.
Russia has on many occasions dismissed UK claims against its naval activities as part of a Western propaganda campaign against Putinm's government.
This article has been adapted from its original source.