Boeing has completed the painting of the first P-8A Poseidon for the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The maritime patrol/anti-submarine aircraft was rolled out from the Renton, Washington paint shop in full 333 Skvadron colors, including the well-known “Saint” on the fin, which was derived from the Simon Templar character in a series of Leslie Charteris novels and used by the squadron as its callsign.
Serialled 9562, the aircraft is to be named Vingtor, continuing a tradition of applying Norse names to the RNoAF’s maritime patrol aircraft established in the 1940s with the naming of three Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying-boats. The remaining four P-8As in the order will be named Viking, Ulabrand, Hugin, and Munin. Following its rollout, the first aircraft is undergoing pre-first flight inspections with an aim of taking it to the air before the end of the month. The mission systems will then be installed.
One of eight nations to have selected the P-8, Norway placed its order for five Poseidons in March 2017, having initially considered leasing maritime patrol aircraft. U.S. approval for the sale was granted in December 2016. The P-8As are due for delivery in 2022 and 2023 and will replace the six aging Lockheed P-3C/N Orions that currently serve with 333 Skvadron at Andøya.
The unit was formed as part of the Royal Air Force in 1942, initially flying Mosquito fighter-bombers and Catalina flying-boats from bases in Scotland before moving to Norway in June 1945. Catalinas—increasingly of the PBY-5A amphibious variant—were operated until 1961, when Grumman HU-16 Albatrosses took over the patrol mission. P-3B Orions were flown from 1969, at a time when North Sea oil exploitation assumed increasing strategic importance. Two were later upgraded to P-3N standard, and they remain in service. Beginning in 1989, they were joined by four P-3C Update IIIs.