The British fleet of RC-135 ‘Rivet Joint’ electronic surveillance aircraft continues to be in heavy use, being deployed to keep an eye on Russian forces in Ukraine.

The UK has long been gathering intelligence about the build-up of Russian forces and also their movements in Ukraine since the invasion. It should be noted that these flights are designed to be visible so that the public and Russia know they’re happening. If it was a secret, I would not know. Also, for those remarking ‘this isn’t new’, that’s right but people only know this happens often because it is reported often.

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 for obvious reasons. 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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Uninformed Civvy Lurker
Uninformed Civvy Lurker
1 day ago

What’s been interesting to me is the amount of Swedish Gulfstream activity in Poland.
The Swedish Gulfstreams spent the first couple of weeks of conflict out over the Baltic Sea near Kaliningrad, but have spent the last 3 weeks almost daily over Poland patrolling the Belarus and Ukrainian border.
I wasn’t surprised by USAF and RAF River Joints and US Joint Stars over Poland, but the Swedish Gulfstreams have been “interesting”.

Matt
Matt
1 day ago

Thanks for the piece, GA.

Not many comments this AM, so I’ll put it here.

I see that President Z has stated that Starstreak has taken down a dozen Russian targets.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 day ago
Reply to  Matt

Good

Means the Russians know they cannot function with impunity.

Also denies them low level attack.

They can’t do high level attack as they don’t have the smart munitions.

Hence they are chucking dumb iron all over the place.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
22 hours ago
Reply to  Matt

Wow considering the training you need on Starstreak that is excellent news. Read from a reporter who tried the various simulators for it recently at an exhibition that he couldn’t hit anything on the handheld version but virtually every time on the Stormer mounted version. Shame we can’t spare more of the latter, but historical short sightedness for you.

Old Tony
Old Tony
1 day ago

I am interested in the gap between Ukrainian claims, and Oryx-verified Russian losses.

As for tanks, the gap is no more than would be expected in the fog of war – 838 claimed as of 22 April, 543 verified by Oryx.

But the gap is very large in the matter of aircraft ( 176 claimed, 24 verified), and also helicopters ( 153 claimed, 36 verified).

Does anyone know why the fog-of-war problem is so much greater for aircraft and helicopters than it is for tanks ?

Thanks.

OT

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
22 hours ago
Reply to  Old Tony

Difficult to say for sure. Historically kills are confusing at best with multiple claims on a single kill for example and confusion due to war conditions when you don’t tend to hang around always to confirm what you think happened. Verified kills need serious evidence that isn’t always going to be there esp in a Country as large as Ukraine. So I suspect true figures are closer to the verified but probably greater than it, flying targets are perhaps more difficult to verify esp if it’s over sea. Just read about the USS Stark incident when the Houthi’s fired two… Read more »

AV
AV
1 day ago

Believe theres a Russian flotilla on the way to salvage sensitive equipment from the Moskva, possibly victims bodies also…
Just keeping an ‘eye’ on them me thinks.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 day ago
Reply to  AV

Sensitive equipment?

That is almost a joke…..

The only thing that they might want to recover is anything nuclear.

John Clark
John Clark
23 hours ago

And it’s almost guaranteed that the ship is loaded with badly maintained and poorly stowed nuclear weapons…..

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
13 hours ago
Reply to  John Clark

A US sniper reckoned he could have taken out the Moskva with some 50 calibre with those silos so exposed and holding missiles with would you believe liquid fuel. Which makes me wonder about if you de eloped mini autonomous subs that could when required barely need to break the service where it could unveil around a dozen brimstone type missiles and perhaps have a couple homing torpedos as back up. Electric, small very quiet if it could sport initially around 200 mile range and/or 3 to 4 day endurance as a minimum how effective would they be in littoral… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
22 hours ago

Wasn’t it recently refitted ie 2021 ish which only makes one think if so how useless was it before hand or is ‘refitted’ in Russian jargon just another coat of red oxide no doubt to upgrade the armour protection.

AV
AV
20 hours ago

Think radio/comms codes and keys will he top of the list.