Two British RC-135 ‘Rivet Joint’ electronic surveillance aircraft are in the air near to and above eastern Ukraine.

The deployment of this many RC-135 aircraft in the region at once is unprecedented for the UK.

British surveillance aircraft being over the area isn’t unusual but we are seeing a significant increase in the frequency of the flights over the last few weeks. American assets are also present.

What does the RC-135W do?

According to the Royal Air Force website, the RC-135W Rivet Joint is a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft that can be employed in all theatres on strategic and tactical missions. Its sensors ‘soak up’ electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems.

“RC-135W Rivet Joint employs multidiscipline Weapons System Officer (WSO) and Weapons System Operator (WSOp) specialists whose mission is to survey elements of the electromagnetic spectrum in order to derive intelligence for commanders.”

The Royal Air Force say that Rivet Joint has been deployed extensively for Operation Shader and on other operational taskings. It had been formally named Airseeker, but is almost universally known in service as the RC-135W Rivet Joint.

The UK operates three of these aircraft.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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David_s
David_s
3 months ago

Not pleasant thoughts, but I am wondering how the Russians do launch an attack on Ukraine, if there are UK and US aircraft in the airspace above their targets – at the very least they must no they won’t be able to do anything with any level of surprise. What does happen if ‘totally not the Russian armed forces’ shoot down one of these aircraft? I am certain that Russia would have factored this in, and would not be letting airborne neutral aircraft act as a buffer….otherwise Berlin airlift style we could just keep these flights going to stop the… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

Then totally not NATO forces will respond.

David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

With what? Invade Russia? I do not see how it would be possible to carry out a ‘proportionate response’ to something like that.

Tufton Bufton
Tufton Bufton
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

Deploy long range AA missiles in Ukrainian colours and clear the airspace over Ukraine? Do something similar to clear the Black Sea of Russian amphibious landing ships.

Notafan
Notafan
3 months ago
Reply to  Tufton Bufton

Gotta love you armchair generals! Sure will be easy, like Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Let’s not forget what a pushover Lebanon was back in ’83!

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago
Reply to  Notafan

Russia will decide if is in their interest to spark a wider conflict with NATO. If it is the pretext will be manufactered if not any clash will be contained. The Ukrainians could ask for help maintaining their airspace and NATO might or might not assist. Personally I think the Russians want concessions not conflict but we will see.

Last edited 3 months ago by Mark B
Tams
Tams
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

The Russians want concessions that simply cannot be given.

Douglas Newell
Douglas Newell
3 months ago
Reply to  Notafan

There’s a big difference in this – the Ukrainians are our allies. It is the Russians doing the invading. The west will be in the position of making things very difficult for the Russians.

Lets take Iraq.

US/West invades Iraq – Iran (much weaker than US/West) makes things difficult.

Russia Invades Ukraine – US/West (MUCH stronger than Russia) makes things VERY difficult for Russia.

Combining “limited” military support for Ukrainians with Economic sanctions can have a big effect.

Sometimes armchair generals have a point.

Esteban
Esteban
3 months ago
Reply to  Tufton Bufton

The UK does not own any long-range AA missiles… Or any long range anti-ship missiles.

Patrick
Patrick
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

By destroying the forces that destroyed the NATO aircraft in a proportional response.

David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

So bombing a 92N2 or Triumf actually on Russian territory – you actually think that is likely to happen? I can tell you right now, no NATO ordinance will fall on any part of Russia (or Belarus) – even if they try to close the Suwalki gap across Poland.

Patrick
Patrick
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

Yes, I do think that likely to happen if Russia attacks NATO forces. But Russia would have to be beyond stupid to do something like that.

Jonatha
Jonatha
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yes but we will give them a really nasty telling off and Germany will at pretend it’s not going to buy any more gas.

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonatha

Absolutely; our letter will be very strongly worded indeed!

Marked
Marked
3 months ago
Reply to  David

These days our letters are fitted for but not with strong words ☹

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Marked

its all right words are free, the problem is they are fitted for but not with paper.

Jay R
Jay R
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

My guess….I don’t think Russian troops would advance on day1 or 2. I would imagine the invasion would begin with a massive airstrike. Probably from ultra low level by aircraft such as the Su24, Su34 and Su25, to avoid radar detection. The objective being to neutralise the Ukraine air force and Sam units?

David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

But I would imagine that the Rivet Joints could (or certainly the Russians would imagine that they could) detect the coms or other broadcasts of large numbers of inbound fighter aircraft.

I don’t think the physical Russian attack can start with them there, they must have thought of that, and again WE must have thought that they will have thought of that.

I don’t like to think this, but are we seeing the potential of a rook sacrifice that could lead to a NATO air policing action in Ukraine?

Jay R
Jay R
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

NATO air policing in Ukraine, would be seen by Russia, as Ukraine joining NATO. It would be a major escalation. It would negate any tactical advantage Russia has. For example the actual air policing element from NATO would need to be at least 24 aircraft, 2 squadrons, and tanker support (Ukraine is vast). 12 F22s and 12 Typhoons would literally form an impenetrable defensive shield that Russia would not be able to penetrate, even with it’s Su35s and Su57s…maybe

David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

A major escalation – that is the thing; I don’t see how they can invade with US (or UK etc) aircraft over Ukraine; so in Russia’s eyes they have to ‘not be there’ – they can issue a NOTAMs, which would more or less signal the invasion, or do what they did with the Malaysian airlines. Surely we have factored in the latter – and we know airstrikes won’t happen, so what is most likely? (Although I hate to be truly cynical, I do have the feeling that if it were an RAF plane our government would take the EXTREMELY stern… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

I read a couple of months back that post Salisbury the Russians believe we’ve been at war with them. Not with bullets and bombs but there are many kinds of war. 😉

David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Being permanently ‘at war’ is how despots operate. Through a language website I am a member of, I actually have a friend in Russia; and she is a professional woman, intelligent – but supports Putin; I just find it staggering. But look at the difference, although our media is not perfect, we’ve had 150 odd years where the press would tear a strip off the government if justified; and the last 30 years even more so – even the Torygraph and the Mail were unloading on BoJo the clown last month. In Russia, criticising, or even questioning, the government is… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

👍

Sean
Sean
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

The sad fact, which Blair and Bush were oblivious to, is that you cannot install western style democracy in a country overnight. It took the west centuries to evolve culturally to the point we are at with free speech, separation of powers, rule of law, and a democratic legislature. And there were a few disasters along the way, such as civil wars.
Trying to create a democracy overnight has failed in the Weimar Republic, Iraq, and Russia. Given time, it can happen, and once it does it’ll be a far safer would.

Meirion X
Meirion X
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

We also have got a functional justice system, which Russia has Not got.

Tufton Bufton
Tufton Bufton
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

Exactly. It’s within the power of the West to supply the means for Ukraine to create something close to air-superiority over the battlefield. Ukrainian owned Turkish top-attack drones, plus Javelin and the UK short-range AT missiles can then bring any Russian armoured advance to a smoking halt. See what Azerbaijan did to a classic Russian/Soviet operation by Armenia.

Meirion X
Meirion X
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

Only 1 Su-57 in service most likely a OEU model. The RA would not risk losing it.

Last edited 3 months ago by Meirion X
Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

David, Nato doesn’t want to get involved in a conflict with Russia over the Ukraine…. There are no legal treaties that require the West/NATO to intervene, so if things start to go hot, I’d imagine the first thing that will happen is any NATO/British aircraft over Ukraine will be instructed to pull back to safer airspace. Nato (except the USA) countries have allowed their military forces to contract alarmingly over the last 20 years, so perhaps it’s the case that Russian aggression in the Ukraine is finally the wake-up call for the European countries to finally start to increase their… Read more »

Steve
Steve
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Andrew, How is this an EU problem ? Ukraine is at least 15 years away from membership. The EC (it’s not the EU as everyone in the UK incorrectly refers to the EC) has no formal role in such conflict except attempting to broker peace agreements in conjunction with its largest member states (which don’t delegate their foreign policy to the EC) The EC also has no effective intelligence so they have no clue what’s really going on in Ukraine, they do have an intelligence unit of about 100 people but it’s mainly ex intelligence officers from the poorer EU… Read more »

SwindonSteve
SwindonSteve
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

You’re about 20 years out of date pal. Ever heard of the Lisbon Treaty (formerly known as the European Constitution)?

Steve
Steve
3 months ago
Reply to  SwindonSteve

Steve, you need to brush up on your knowledge of European institutions if you want to debate them. The EC is the European Commission, which is the executive decision making body of the EU. The Lisbon Treaty founded the European Constitution, it didn’t replace it, before Lisbon there wasn’t a European Constitution, only a series of international agreements.

Paul T
Paul T
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

I think if Russia does decide to escalate the First Actions would be with Missiles (Land, Sea and Air Launched) before any conventional Bombing by Aircraft.

JohninMK
JohninMK
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Spot on. Many here seem to want to fight the next war with the weapons and tactics of the last war. Sad but its often the way. The Russians could achieve probably all their objectives in defending Donbas from Ukrainian Army attack, the only reason they will interfere militarily in the country, without setting foot in or over it. Why risk body bags when the barrel/tube/rocket and missile artillery with some drone assistance can do the job? And we are now only two days from the end of the exercises in Belarus and the start of the troops return to… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Defending Donbas from Ukrainian Army attacks? You just cannot stop with the preprogrammed propaganda John. You word everything in a way that a controlled drone has to. ENDEX for the troops in Belarus…..its becoming farcical John.

Meirion X
Meirion X
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

An target rich environment for the Stringers! No Sukhoi would be safe at low level.

Last edited 3 months ago by Meirion X
Steve
Steve
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

As was happening in Syria, NATO and Russia will be informing each other of any potential problems. I’m sure we will have told them in advance about the planes deployment and Russia will tell us in advance to get out. Neither side wants ww3.

David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

The type de-escalation system that is being used in Syria has no application to Ukraine, and I’d be pretty certain neither us nor the USA will have told (or feel any obligation to tell) Russia about flights of our intelligence gathering planes over (and at the invite of) another sovereign nation – Syria was a different matter, a conflict zone where both were engaged and exercising different types of rights to be there. Russia has ZERO rights to the airspace of Ukraine. And we are there to gather intelligence, which we are sharing with Ukraine – so if Russia tells… Read more »

Steve
Steve
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

The planes transponders are turned on, there would be no reason not to inform Russia in advance to ensure we don’t escalate things. Russia may well want to take a few more countries after Ukraine but it will be slowly does it, so not to trigger full out war with the US. They appear to be doing what Hitler did but over a longer period, testing how far they can take it before the US reacts, which so far they haven’t. NATO itself is a toothless organisation, as it’s not one decision making entity, it’s made up of lots of… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Steve
David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Telling them would be akin to asking permission – so that would not happen; they don’t ask us when they fly their rusty old bears to the limit of our airspace. Very similar to the 1930s – Russia has murdered people here in the UK, and recieved barely a minor diplomatic rebuke. They invaded Crimea, and got sanctions that would probably have been covered by some pocket change down the back of a sofa…and yeah, they could invade Ukraine, and ‘annex’ the Lithuanian-Poland border to get to Kaliningrad – and then after achiving their goals, declare a cease fire at… Read more »

Steve
Steve
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

History tells us nations only react when their interests are threatened, not out of a morale juty. It’s a nice story that the UK declared war to protect Poland, but it’s just that a story. There was a lot more at play. The truth was Poland had nothing to do with it, we went to war because we were worried a rising Germany would be a threat to the empire, especially in Africa and potentially the main land, plus our trade into europe. Poland was just the line we drew that indicated that the threat has reacted an unacceptable level.… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Steve
Alan Reid
Alan Reid
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Hi Steve, I disagree – we didn’t go to war in 1939 because we believed Nazi Germany was threatening our overseas empire. Indeed, Imperial Japan was a much more serious threat to our imperial possessions. (Hitler wanted an empire in eastern Europe). If we had really been worried about the empire – we would have stayed out of a European conflagration, avoiding eventual over-stretch through fighting major naval campaigns in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Far-East. The eventual loss of Singapore in 1942 was the greatest British military humiliation since the surrender at Yorktown in 1781. The UK declared war in… Read more »

Jonatha
Jonatha
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

Yes but if Russian fighters tried to engage the intel gathering aircraft they would be a valid target for NATO air defences. Since it would create a defacto air war between Russia and NATO allowing NATO to target any Russian airforce assets that stray out of Russian airspace and looks like a threat.

As there is no way an air war would stay an air war and Russia cannot win a war with NATO, I would lay money they will not go down that road.

David_s
David_s
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonatha

That is exactly what I mean, so to my mind they can’t attack with the Rivet Joint aircraft there…but the fact remains that they HAVE to have thought of a way around that…..and we have must know what that way is too – because otherwise, all this talk of attack is moot, if just the presence of our aircraft there stops them.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  David_s

Yup if they fire a shot at the Rivet then whatever plane fires is legitimate target in a defensive action.

That could well include an unpleasant EW surprise of the aggressor plane(s) just dropping out of the air with no missiles fired….malfunction you know……

One thing the Rivet has is plenty of EW power.

The Israelis took out the S400 system with some ease….

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago

The Russians have plenty of effective medium to long range EW systems along the border with Ukraine capable of reducing the effectiveness of NATO spyplanes and satellites…already some reports that they might have started to use some of these to degrade NATO / Ukrainian reconaissance assets. These ‘soft’ weapons are proving very effective against Israel in Syria/ Lebanon.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Maybe.

Maybe not.

The big problem for Vald is that if he goes to full Willy waving with this and then discovers that NATO can neutralise his assets then he looks under endowed and his arms export industry will dry up?

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago

Russian arms exports have been badly hit these past couple of years or so, mainly due to American arm twisting of potential or actual customers for Russian arms. By using the threat of sanctions the Americans have caused customers to pull out of deals worth several billions of dollars and desist from advancing deals worth a further few billion.

The T-90 tank and S-400 in particular though are still selling very well.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Well this would be seen to impact S400 sales if it could be bypassed at will.

T-90 sales would nose dive if the MLAWS proved effective.

The goal is open for Vlad to score: an own goal.

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago

If…If…If…a lot of ‘Ifs’ there. Acting as Devil’s Advocate…If this conflict turned ‘hot’ and Russia found itself in a shooting war even if limited geographically to Ukraine / Black sea one of the biggest risks for the US would be the revelation that its much vaunted F-35 was susceptible to EW and thus practically useless in a European context. Many customers would be wanting huge refunds…possibly enough to bankrupt Lockheed Martin. Or there is the M1A2 and other variants…apparently they don’t respond too well with an encounter with Kornet and newer ATGMs of Russian origin. Always two sides to any… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Maybe Vlad needs a Kayak to escape his own cleverness?

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago

Useful advice for anyone out on the water in a small boat…always ensure you have a spare paddle with you…

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago

This tells me they’re expecting an invasion at any moment. Putin must be out of his mind.

Jay R
Jay R
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I can’t see this ending without conflict, but I think Russia will conduct airstrikes 1st then back off. And await NATOs response.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jay R
David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

I’d guess the US would go through every cupboard and back of every sofa for all the Stingers they can find then fly them into Lviv.

dan
dan
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Biden doesn’t have the guts to send Stingers to Ukraine. He called the Lithuanians and told them to send some of theirs. lol

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

No it would be easy just put a Golden Girls DVD on then get him to sign the document while he’s engrossed.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I hope not but fear you are right.

The other side of the coin is to collect the elint to prove what the Russians are up to.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago

Or maybe to convince the Russians that that was how we got the Elint ? Messing with their heads is not a bad idea. In magic they call it distraction.

Jonatha
Jonatha
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yes two out of three suggests that the people that know are very very worried as it’s not a sustainable tempo at all.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonatha

Yeah 1 tells the Russians we suspect something is up 2 tells them we know something is up.

Locking Nut
Locking Nut
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Crossing fingers that there is some level of deterrent aspect to the use of these assets. It becomes more difficult for Russian forces to create false pretexts when everything they do or say is being surveilled

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Locking Nut

👍

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
3 months ago

Interesting article re Tempest. It seems that Japan is already a full partner in everything but name;
https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2022-02-16/growing-links-between-japans-f-x-and-anglo-italian-tempest

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Thanks.

farouk
farouk
3 months ago

Not just the RAF doing the int and squint bit in the area. This a map from the other day regards the rest of Europe having a butchers at the Russian bear in which to see, if they really do crap in the woods.
comment image

Last edited 3 months ago by farouk
Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
3 months ago

If Putin farts, these things will be able to pick it up, and tell you what he had for lunch 😄 some fascinating technology on-board these aircraft.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

But Putin doesn’t fart or go to the toilet for that matter. I know that because I was told that in confidence by a couple of commenters on this site !

Last edited 3 months ago by David Steeper
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

You mean Putin is Waxwork2 model?

Chernenko was Waxwork1 model?

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago

😂😂

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

😆👍

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

JohninMK by any chance? 😂

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

A gentleman never tells 😂

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

There are also many commenters, on this and other sites, who obviously have direct access/connections to GCHQ and NATO intelligence, as they seem to have complete details of how and when Russia is going to invade Ukraine.

Everyone must be allowed to voice opinions on the Ukraine situation (whether or not others agree) but not to give the impression that their views are the only correct ones.

Jay R
Jay R
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Yes this is true. How well they would actually fare in a shooting war with Russia or China remains to be seen. Due to an extremely contested electronic warfare environment. Also they would be pushed back due to the Russian surface to air missile threat. And there would also be the Mig31/Su27 threat. These aircraft have tremendous range, are armed with extremely long range missiles and powerful radars and are incredibly fast, Mach 2 plus.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

These aircraft would be well out of the way if the shooting started.We have them to help prevent the shooting in the first place. Gather the information so we can make informed decisions.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

I don’t know but I would guess they have a very serious ECM capability against S400 etc.

chris
chris
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

S400 couldn’t even deny airspace over Syria. It’s a long range system, but it’s not a generational leap in technology.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  chris

And it’s never come up against anything like Rivet Joint.

dave12
dave12
3 months ago
Reply to  chris

Israel seem to have no problem with the S400.

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  dave12

The S-400 has never been used against Israeli aircraft although its associated radar has been used to feed data into the joint Russian/ Syrian Air Defence network. Israeli attacks are more effectively countered using medium and short range SAMs in conjuntion with EW. Over the past 12-18 months the Syrians with Russian help have had their most successful time ever against Israeli Air-Surface Missiles.

dave12
dave12
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Ye ok Ivan lol, I’ve seen the gun camera’s run , keep the kremlin BS going for the mafia state motherland.

Meirion X
Meirion X
3 months ago
Reply to  dave12

Kayaker=GRU, he’s come out of nowhere at this point in time.

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  chris

Not strictly true. There was a noticeable reduction in Coalition air activity over Syria once the S-400 moved in. This activity has never fully recovered to pre S-400 levels and is largely over the
eastern 1/3 rd of the country away from S-400.

Meirion X
Meirion X
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay R

The Mig-31 does not have much range, it is a point defence aircraft. It burns through fuel like the E.E. Lightning 1 interceptor.

Last edited 3 months ago by Meirion X
Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
3 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

The mig 31 is not a point defence aircraft. It has combat range of nearly 1000 miles, can carry drop tanks etc
It’s a big interceptor aircraft. Big powerful radar, data links, long range missiles etc. 4 mig 31 working together can cover a vast area linking the radar picture together.
They were made for securing the vast Russian territory.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

You’re thinking of the Mig 21 I think M! That was a shorter ranged fighter like you describe with Frontal Aviation.

The Mig 31 developed on from the Mig 25 Foxbat. The interceptors of the old Voyska PVO had longer ranges as they needed to cover the northern approaches of Russia/Soviet Union from the Kola to Norlisk and Siberia, the shortest routes for the old SAC bombers.

Love to see one at an airshow!

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
3 months ago

I think that’s why nato likes the names. Harder to get wrong than numbers.
Foxbat, fencer etc. And my old favourite faggott

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

🤣 I’d forgotten about the Faggott!

Dave
Dave
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Where can I find out more about the technology we have in these planes? I have no idea how they “suck” up, presumably encrypted, communications. Is it sent back to base for decryption later? Do they have new radar tech or telescopic tech to see so far over the border?
(I promise I am not a Russian spy)

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Dave

ha, it’s ok, I believe you. You won’t find much on the Internet I’m afraid. Wikipedia will probably have something about the aircraft and what it does. But a lot of the tech is very secret. 👍

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Dave

I’d suggest you look into and get a greater understanding of the wider MoD / HM forces intelligence collecting capability, locations, organisations, what they do, how they connect with each other, and with the US, other 5 eyes nations, and so on.
From there, you can get a good idea as to what these aircraft can do and what sort of capability they have, but not of course exact details.
Also look up “StarWindow” on their predecessors.

Geordie
Geordie
3 months ago

Belarus should have massive nato force on its borders play Russia back at owns game ideally 200000 nato troops should be deployed with what ever equipment
is needed we need back bone call russias bluff then chinas over Taiwan

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago

OT
If the French pull out of Mali as Macron has announced, what happens to our LLRG and the three Chinooks on Op Newcombe? Will they now be expected to liase with the Russian mercenary group who are to replace the French? And what about air cover for our chaps?

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

French are saying they are no longer willing to work with the military junta as they dont trust him and so will leave the country but the international peacekeeping forces they command will remain in the region redeploying to neighbouring countries to continue the mission.
Theres been two military coups in the country in the last two years with the person who became president in the first being deposed by his vice president 9 months later.

Last edited 3 months ago by Watcherzero
Jonatha
Jonatha
3 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

I don’t think you can blame the french, deploying into a county that wants you there to fight insurgents is one thing. Being deployed to a county where the government is trying to stab you in the back is a whole different beast.

Tams
Tams
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonatha

I don’t think anyone here’s blaming the French. And we too know about having responsibilities from our colonial past.

But if their help is clearly not wanted, then any colonial-related obligations are rendered moot. No point in sacrificing any more French blood over it.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Tams

I Tams sorry it’s that use of every day language that some times does not translate well into text, is was using the the “ blame in the context of I agree with the french, so “I don’t blame you for doing that“ is the same as I think you were probably right in doing that” so I was using it in a sort of neutral “I see why your doing that response” it’s not related to other posters or any actual blame. The English language is a funny old thing. Every expression we use is so based around context,… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

No way will the RAF or the Army lads have anything to do with Wagner wankers! Bunch of sad no job no hoper nazi wannabes, controlled by a small element of current serving FSB and not as good as the propaganda says Spetnaz wall headbangers! Don’t confuse Wanker group with a normal Private Security Company, as Wagner group are directly controlled by the Kremlin and it’s efforts at disrupting Western efforts, regardless of the consequences.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Basically if it’s a totalitarian corporatist state like China or Russia you have to assume any organisation or company is a state asset that will be controlled and used. I think that’s one of the things the western democracies have really struggled with. Every Chinese or Russia. Company works for their government.

dan
dan
3 months ago

NATO is just concerned about NATO allies. They will sit by while Russia absorbs Ukraine. I do give credit to Boris for at least doing more than any other NATO country to help Ukraine defend themselves. Even the mighty Americans aren’t doing much of anything besides sending a few crates of ammo. But that’s just for photo ops so Sleepy Joe can claim he’s doing something.

chris
chris
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

Americans have sent thousands of Javelins.

dave12
dave12
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

Well dan , if Trumpski was still in power , he would do nothing as he has stated you simpleton.

Esteban
Esteban
3 months ago
Reply to  dave12

Oddly enough Putin never tested Trump. And in Syria Trump destroyed hundreds of Russian mercenaries at a whim. Trump pulled the US out of a very bad nuclear treaty. And Putin noticed that. But that’s a cool story you’re telling anyway. Must be the imaginary collusion you’re thinking of

Jonatha
Jonatha
3 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

But trump was very much flowing towards a more isolationist policy in regards to military force. The pulling out of treaty related more to the fact he was not a great believer in Multi state/multi lateral treaties . He was and is a libertarian who also believes that those ideas can be taken to the macro political/geopolitical stage. Effectively he was a believer that nations should only act in their own best interests. Which is not wrong, but it does not take into account the Usefulness in geopolitics of enlightened self interest ( which is what nato represents, you give… Read more »

Tams
Tams
3 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

Trump did jack shit and left the next administration with a ‘deal’ in Afghanistan that he had done exactly zero preparation for.

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

If your idol Trump were still President he’d be on his knees, bowing down and hailing “Lord Putin.”

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Search Durham investigation on Youtube it’s a real eye opener.

Netking
Netking
3 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I went and looked that up on your suggestion and Durham just yesterday distanced himself and basically said the latest right wing swamp fantasy about Hilary and Russia is nonsense.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

It’s very difficult Dan, direct action would lead to a war between nuclear powers, which has never happened before and we have no idea were it could end. But one potential outcome is the extinction of our race. 100 nuclear weapons would destroy around 10-15 % of world food production for around a decade ( so that a 10-15 population reduction or around a billion dead) The whole NATO Russian nuclear arsenals would end every species of large land animal on the planet, most complex plant life and most large sea animals. It would be a reset great dying event.… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Jonathan
Paul T
Paul T
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

You are wrong to say War between Two Nuclear Powers has never happened – India vs Pakistan (1999) and Israel vs The Soviet Union ( War of Attrition – early 1970s ).

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Paul you are picking really marginal examples that are not really wars between nuclear powers. The kargil war was not an actual war, it was a two much operation by India in which, the Indian army cleared out Pakistan paramilitary forces pretending to be local insurgents, it was a classic deniability campaign ( unfortunately for Pakistan it got found out and had to remove its little green men). Also at that time Pakistan did not have operational nuclear weapons as it had only began its firsts tests in the year before, so at that time it was not a nuclear… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Jonathan
JohninMK
JohninMK
3 months ago

If the article is about the aircrafy in the posted flight pattern then I would point out that they are over northern not eastern Ukraine.

They are also in exactly the place you would expect them to be, close to a very large Russian exercise, sucking up everything they can.

Frank62
Frank62
3 months ago

Keeping a close eye on the Belerus-Kiev front by the look of it.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Well your first thought is they know something may be up. And NATO with its intelligence capabilities will know full well the when’s and the where’s,

I cannot think when 2 of our 3 51 Sqn Elint assets were airborne at the same time in “peace” time?

Last edited 3 months ago by Daniele Mandelli
JohninMK
JohninMK
3 months ago

Of course something is up, one of the most important Russian exercises in decades in a strategic location that allows easy RC-135 access. Probably Global Hawks up there continuously as well.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I think you know what my “up” was referring too John!
Yes, the two at once was my concern, which implies increased threat from previous weeks.

JohninMK
JohninMK
3 months ago

Or so much traffic they needed two to maximise the opportunity.

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
3 months ago
Reply to  JohninMK

According to Flightradar24, USAF Global Hawks have indeed been in the area.

Jonatha
Jonatha
3 months ago

Just a thought we did sign a new defence and shared security pact with Poland and Ukraine yesterday. That included a lot about information Sharing. So maybe this is as much about that and HMG doing couple of things: 1) showing that it’s going to up its intelligence gathering and intelligence available to Ukraine with the new agreement in place 2) tell the Russians they are watching very very closely and we have the capability to keep a close eye and provide Ukraine with all the intel it needs even if NATO itself does not have agreement in place to… Read more »

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonatha

These sort of assets should be fitted with a means to defend themselves. They are an obvious target and would probably be engaged at the start of any offensive move.

Jonatha
Jonatha
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

You would hope that there would always be some form of combat air patrol that could get between these assets and a threat if they were operating in an area that had threats. I would assume that the Ukrainian airforce would be making sure that they stayed safe.

The only problem with some form of hard kill self defence missile for the rivet joints is that they spend all their time passively absorbing what’s going on I would imagine that active sensors would interfere with this job.

JohninMK
JohninMK
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonatha

In peacetime there is no need for their own defence systems or fighter protection. In wartime they won’t be there, they will be 100s miles back out of harms way, to many valuable people inside..

These types of manned and airborne intelligence gathering systems only have a role against a non peer adversary, as per their whole lives to date when they have done an excellent job.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

Latest news out of Ukraine is not looking good. I’m moving from the” it may be a big geopolitical push” again nato more than an actual invasion of Ukraine to I think Russia is going to invade shortly. saying they were send troops back to home bases but instead increasing troop number. Building bridges over key rivers. massive increase in separatist attacks on Ukraine. russia saying the situation is unsafe in the separatist enclave and they are evacuating children and the old. claiming war crimes by Ukraine in separatist enclave announcing an exercise of strategic assets ( to remind NATO… Read more »

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The separatists in Donbass say that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been attacking them for 2 days now using artillery, mortars, ATGMs, RPGs and heavy machine guns. In addition they say that some of the roads and railways and bridges linking Donetsk with the Russian border have been targetted. The main thrust of the Ukrainian attack is said to be aimed at splitting the two territories from each other and them from Russia. They did say that they have retaliated in reply with some reports saying that they had tried to hit clusters of armoured vehicles and troops just beyond… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Generally speaking when a vastly more powerful nation sticks an army of almost 200,000 men on the boarder of the weaker nation and states the weak nation is attacking it, while at the same time all intelligence sources evidence that the vastly stronger nation is looking for a pretext to remove said weaker nation from history. I tend to go with what seems to be realistic. Weak nations do not generally force strong nations to attack them and quite frankly using ethnic populations as an excuse to invade your weak neighbours is as old as empire.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jonathan
Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I wasn’t aware that Ukraine had attacked Russia…must have missed that.

An army of almost 200,000? Is that verifiable or just a guess?

Lastly I don’t believe Russia is looking to remove anyone from history. Do you really believe that?

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

It’s fun to play semantics, russia is accusing Ukraine of attacking Russian backed separatists as an excuse to invade.

at present the estimates from intelligence sources are around 190,000.thats what western intelligence agencies are saying. But they may be making it up in some bizarre plot to get the population of the west to believe Russia is about to invade Ukraine.

Yes I believe that Russia has an internal dialogue that Ukraine is not a separate sovereign nation but is instead part of a greater Russia and would like very much to see it become part of Russia again.

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Semantics are all the rage don’t you know. I’ve just watched the BBC news at ten and apparently Russia is surrounding Ukraine preparing to attack. “Surrounded”…”surrounding”…can’t remember exactly which word was used…but to an uneducated person or someone ill-informed on current affairs (several million voters I should imagine) the state broadcaster was informing them something which couldn’t possibly be true. You’d think with the amount of money we all pay to fund the BBC and the amount they pay their news presenters they could at least get their facts right. For what it’s worth my take on this is that… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

The problem is that sometimes history overtakes sense and that what seems reasonable (peace) transitions into the irrational (war). This is very much what is happening at present. Putin has unfortunately locked himself into a self fulfilling reality. NATO is the enemy and Ukraine is part of Russia. Putin has made it very clear on a number of occasions that he sees Ukraine as simply part of Russia. He also saw an opportunity to push at what he perceived as a weak NATO. Unfortunately people and counties get trapped into dialogues that become inescapable, many wars have started this way.… Read more »

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I agree with your point about the emerging Chinese-Russian relationship to the extent it will complicate things for Washington and its allies. A world war within a decade is not far fetched when one considers that the World Economic Forum /UN ‘Great Reset’ aka ‘Build Back Better’, aka New World Order is scheduled to be in play by around 2030 and cannot operate properly if Russia has not been subdued by then. China can be bought off economically…besides which the model of global enslavement envisaged is closely based on the existing Chinese model. We disagree profoundly on Russia though. A… Read more »

Tams
Tams
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Geez, why would a country like Russia lie?

Get a grip mate!

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Tams

Moscow certainly hasn’t been lying when it claims that NATO promised not to expand eastwards after the break-up of the Soviet Union according to Willy Wimmer, a former vice president of the OSCE during the negotiations between the west and USSR during this time.

So there you have it…NATO and various western politicians aided and abetted by MSM have collectively lied in the past days and weeks, making out that no such commitment was made to Gorbachev.

Russia has actually got a very good record when it comes to honouring international treaty commitments.

Meirion X
Meirion X
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Not True that NATO did promise Not to move East. More disinformation again!
Only an agreement between West Germany and the former USSR to not redeploy nuclear weapons or foreign troops to Eastern Germany is true. It did not apply to the rest of Eastern Bloc.

Last edited 3 months ago by Meirion X
Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

An article in ‘Executive Intelligence Review’ from 11th June, 2021 entitled:

“Chatham House Lies about ‘Aggressor Russia’ Exposed. NATO Did Promise Not To Expand East” tells what really happened.

The US may have changed its mind later and tried to cloud the issue but that doesn’t change what the major participants
understood about this at the time.

Jon
Jon
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

The irony about US assurances having supposedly been made to Soviet Foreign Secretary Eduard Shevardnadze, a future Ukrainian president, don’t need any enlargement from me. Even if true, should promises made to a country that no longer exists by a person who had no right to make them somehow supersede promises made to a country that does exist by a person who has the authority? The US alone can’t speak for NATO. The president of Russia can speak for Russia. There is no question about Russian promises regarding Ukrainian teritorial integrity. Those promise were reiterated in 2009, five years after… Read more »

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Disregarding promises made and to what extent each side understood from these…things were generally deteriorating between Russia and US/Europe once the US started changing the political status of countries it didn’t like under its cleverly packaged ‘Color Revolutions’. It was basically an exercise in re-making the map in different parts of the world to bring about governments favourable to the US using the CIA / MSM. Ukraine and the Maidan Square demonstrations etc com-plete with imported foreign snipers (Georgian I believe) followed from the EU and US telling Ukraine that it had to choose between them or Russia…they couldn’t trade… Read more »

james m
james m
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

EIR is a load of nonsense written by a far-right nutjob. I’d be surprised if they weren’t getting funding from Russian Govt sources. The cover image from the wikipedia article tells you all you need to know about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Intelligence_Review

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  james m

If I want to know the length of an Airbus A380 or the deepest depth of the North Sea…wikipedia is fine for that sort of thing…however it’s useless for any kind of analysis involving subjective human input…it is extensively ‘edited’ by a small number of people and organisations who push their own agenda and is therefore biased and untrustworthy..am surprised that you didn’t know that already.

james m
james m
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

It’s literally the cover of one of their issues, like Wikipedia does with every other newspaper/journal. The cover that EIR made themselves. It really does set their biases out pretty clearly. Tells you everything you need to know about where there biases lie and how trustworthy they are (read: far right and not at all).

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The danger lies when there are heavily armed insurgents within the weaker nation, who are supporters of the more powerful nation and who are undoubtedly urging that powerful nation to invade.

Tams
Tams
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

The jeep they blew up looked like a set up. And the video about the evacuation didn’t have its metadata removed so was found to have be filmed two days earlier.

It’s all false flags.

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Tams

Filmed on the 16th Feb apparently according to people who have looked into it. No one can say why. Maybe the guy who recorded it
thought that on the day NATO and Western intelligence agencies were telling the world that Russia was almost certainly going to invade Ukraine on that day, he thought he might have more important things to deal with?

Important broadcasts are often made in advance of the event for various reasons. I wouldn’t read too much into this one…if they intended to mislead for whatever reason then why would they leave the metadata intact? Rookie error.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Kayaker, there is taking a balanced view and then there is ignoring reality and you are very much ignoring reality. Yes I personally think NATO miss played badly in the last decade of the 20th and first decade of the 21st, ( very much as the victors of WW1 did). This poor decision making lead to the rise of Putin., but whatever the history Putin is what he is a brutal authoritarian leading a highly aggressive Corporatist state that has placed a huge army on the doorstep of a smaller neighbour, while making geopolitical threats to NATO on the pretext… Read more »

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Totally disagree with your analysis Jonathan. You’ve obviously made your mind up and so have I. Time will tell which of us was right

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Well there you go one invaded nation later and time has told use which analysis was correct. And please do not use any term involving peace keeping, as thats just being an apologist for war mongering. peace keeping is an internally agreed process of supportive policing of a peace agreement or truce.

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Let it go Jonathan…it’s obviously eating you up…For what its worth I still disagree with your interpretation of events. As for your definition of ‘peace keeping’…you’ve lost me there.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayaker

Lol so what is your interpretation of events as they now stand kayaker ?

dan
dan
3 months ago

You’d think Germany would have ELINT aircraft to help out NATO but like everything else they depend on others to do the heavy lifting.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

Germany has about a dozen listening stations throughout the country, about a quarter of them formerly operated by the US and now operated by Germany. In addition it operates three listening ships and its corvettes are equipped to record signals for later analysis.

Geordie
Geordie
3 months ago

We have 3 of these aircraft maybe we need couple extra considering how important these things are
Too keep 2 flying continuously we’re gonna need 6 or 8

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
3 months ago

There must be some useful information to Hoover up with the aircraft deploying so frequently. I would of thought everything would be encrypted but I’m no expert on this kind of kit.
Could it also be just to show a presence. Any other aircraft could be seen as offensive. I think this would be secondary bonus role to the collection of intel though

Kayaker
Kayaker
3 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

All nations use intelligence assets whether space, air , water, land based or good old fashioned humint and so long as no-one oversteps the mark as it were and follows the ‘unwritten rules of engagement’ then these activities are generally tolerated. These aircraft will be using side looking radar to create images of the build up and dispostion of Russian and Belorussian forces…numbers, types attempting to discern which individual units are present…who their senior officers are. In addition they are listening to mobile phone communications in the area, local military ‘chatter’…more importantly trying to ‘sniff’ out the locations of radars… Read more »

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
3 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Theres a few factors, firstly there is differing levels of encryption, battlefield communications are not generally as strongly encrypted as HQ level communications and NATO and Five Eyes have access to both broken ciphers and the computing power to brute force decrypt non broken ciphers of this level quite easily. Secondly triangulating where the communications are coming from allows you to position specific troop formations and track their movements. Thirdly the frequency that communications are being sent gives you an idea of what activity these forces are performing, whether its general day to day activity level, heightened alert, combat drills… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Watcherzero
Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
3 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Oh yes it’s a fascinating subject. Snooping on the airwaves.
Some seem to be saying about the raf will struggle to use 2 of the 3 aircraft often. My thoughts were That although the aircraft are long in the tooth in years they are young in airframe flying hours.
I would hope they are able to fly almost as much as normal airliners.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

“Snooping on the airwaves” comes from many other assets in multiple locations MS, not just the Rivets. They just complement other assets, ground and air based.

edwinr
edwinr
3 months ago

Has the ‘Phony War’ started. No doubt. We are puppets. Putin is the puppet master and at the moment, he is controlling the narrative. From the other side of the world I am deeply concerned. I am worried that Putin will over reach and find himself in a situation where if he doesn’t invade, he will be seen weak by his opponents. He can’t afford that. Putin should never have gone done this path. He should have left it at Crimea. As others have suggested, China is watching very closely. I’m not a big fan of Boris, nor of the… Read more »

David Flandry
David Flandry
3 months ago

The west will send a nasty note to Russia, and reinforce their garrisons in Poland and Andorra.