A British RC-135 surveillance aircraft has completed a deployment monitoring Russian forces in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, Belarus north of Ukraine as well as Russian forces in and around Crimea on the Black Sea.
The RC-135W Rivet Joint and its sensors are designed to undertake ‘signals intelligence’ missions, in other words they ‘soak up’ electronic emissions from communications, radars and other systems.
The flight took place yesterday afternoon and returned later in the day. You can watch a time-lapse of the flight in the tweet below.
🚨 NEWS | Britain is keeping an eye on the Russian military. A British RC-135 surveillance aircraft completed a deployment today monitoring Russian forces in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, Belarus north of Ukraine as well as Russian forces in and around Crimea on the Black Sea. pic.twitter.com/TfEuerOnUA
— George Allison (@geoallison) January 25, 2022
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.