British and American RC-135 Rivet Joint signals intelligence surveillance aircraft have been circling the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The RC-135W Rivet Joint and its sensors are designed to ‘soak up’ electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems.

This comes not long after British RC-135 were operating over Black Sea, this heavy usage of the type demonstrates the apparent utility these aircraft have to the Ministry of Defence.

What is Kaliningrad?

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is on the Baltic Sea and is sandwiched between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the north and east. The territory was annexed from Germany in 1945.

Where is Kaliningrad? The part of Russia you never knew existed before  World Cup 2018 - Birmingham Live

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.

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farouk
farouk
10 days ago

A lot off topic, but a very interesting tweet regards the size of the Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik UCAV
https://twitter.com/MrPrismakov/status/1444613271861014529

farouk
farouk
10 days ago
Reaper
Reaper
10 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Arguably they are a far more powerfull millitary on paper than the UK. But after after watching them fight against rebels and lose time after time, they don’t have the British fight and win spirit. They run or surrendered if things get tough. Different breed.

eclipse
eclipse
10 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Arguably. But their navy is significantly weaker, and then there’s things you simply can’t buy, even with copious amounts of money: pride, history, allies, overseas bases etc.

Coll
Coll
10 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

I think copious amounts of money could buy overseas bases, allies and Metropolitan Police turning a blind eye. lol

eclipse
eclipse
10 days ago
Reply to  Coll

You might think so, but no. China has plenty of money, yet what happened in Darwin? Allies? Would France support China or the UK in a war? etc.

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
10 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Didn’t the French lie about withdrawing their team based in Argentina to assist with the Exocet missiles during the Falklands War?

Couple that with Macron saying Russia and China are “not NATO’s enemies”, the blatant hostility from France since brexit, including the disgusting threat to cut power to Jersey, in my opinion seriously makes France unreliable. I wouldn’t put it past Macron to back China over the UK.

eclipse
eclipse
10 days ago

Perhaps in peace time these rows are visible; even during WW2 the free french weren’t the friendliest bunch, even to their liberators and saviours. However, if battle lines were drawn for a serious WW3, U.K. and USA, along with Japan, Australia and South Korea would certainly be on one side. Most likely China on the other. Russia is questionable… I have family in Russia and realisation that China is exploiting Russia is beginning to appear. The Aquitaine class frigate D651, forgot the name of it, still joined us for JW. French seamen won’t open fire on British ones, it’s out… Read more »

Johan
Johan
8 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

i wouldn’t turn my back on them, two-faced and spinless whinging population, imagine being asked to sign up to defend France, i would join the other side so i can burn them.

lee1
lee1
9 days ago

No they did not lie about their force in Argentina. They pulled most of them out but left a small detachment there to spy on the Argentinians. They were in constant contact with the UK to and were passing on information regarding how far along they were with integrating the Excorcet with the Super Etendard. They were also watching closely to try to block any new purchases of Excorcets from other countries. France helped us out a great deal with the Falklands and it would have been much harder to win they had not. They even sent aircraft for the… Read more »

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
9 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Actually, it seems they helped both sides.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17256975

Last edited 9 days ago by Christopher Allen
lee1
lee1
9 days ago

This is not the French Government that made the decision, it appeared to be Dassault. The French Government were not best pleased about that. However it is still not clear if they were helping because they needed to in order to stay connected to the details or if they genuinely were told to help. What was a fact is that as soon as the issue with the Excorcet was fixed, the UK were notified immediately. Lets not forget that the UK helped the soviets against US pleas (With regard to the jet engine) and they US were furious at that… Read more »

Johan
Johan
8 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Living in the past, the USA has taken more intellectual license rights than Russia, and considering the UK paid for every USA-made Merlin engine during the war and RR never got a % of those sales. IF DASSAULT who were French Government-owned, don’t fix the Exocets that kept falling short into the sea,

is the same as fixing a nuclear bomb and then telling france OH WE FIXED THE PROBLEM. watch out.

lee1
lee1
8 days ago
Reply to  Johan

You are aware that the Falklands are also in the past? The UK did not pay for every us made merlin engine. That is a ludicrous thing to claim, especially without any evidence. The UK Effectively gave them a free licence to build them, we certainly did not pay to have them built! Not really sure what that has to do with Jet engines though… With regard to the Rolls Royce Nene which we gave to the Soviets… During the Korean War the US thought they were going up against a Soviet Airforce that was going to be technologically behind.… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Joining the PAST comments the LABOUR government of 1945 Clement Attlee gave the Soviets a jet engine which came back too bite us in the Korean War If Churchill had remained in power in 1945 ,I doubt if he would have given them the Steam of his Sxxx

lee1
lee1
6 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

I agree. However we are judged by a country not on our leaders… For instance people are not judging Mitterrand on this thread, they are judging France…

Johan
Johan
8 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Again they made money from BOTH SIDES, don’t get fooled by there we did this, if they hadn’t of fixed the Exocet’s, there would be no need to provide defense information. Calling the hitting of a civilian ship, an accident is what Germany called Sinking hospital ships. No French lives were lost in the Falklands.

lee1
lee1
8 days ago
Reply to  Johan

I am a little unsure of what on earth you are on about. Atlantic Conveyor was not the target of the Excorcet that hit it. The Missile was aimed at Navy ships and when they successfully diverted it using techniques shown to us by the French it just happened to go in the direction of Atlantic Conveyor and locked on to it. So yes it was an accident that Conveyor was hit.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
8 days ago
Reply to  lee1

It didnt get diverted by techniques shown to the UK by the French.
It was diverted because it was a 1st/2nd gen missile that was dumb as a dumb thing and was distracted by chaff blooms fired from the 3 inch rocket launching Corvus Chaff systems.

The RN had Exocet fitted to a number of its ships since the 70s and RN maintainers and shore side boffins where well aware of its limitations and how to defeat/distract it.

lee1
lee1
8 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

The RN had the MM38 which was the first version. The Air Launched version had updated avionics and targeting equipment. The French also updated the UK on tactics they taught for successful operation of the missile from a Super Etendard.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
8 days ago
Reply to  lee1

EW calls for Cyrano where the first indicator that the aircraft was doing its pop up scan and using its own search radar. After that it was a straight forward and well practised Zippo process after missile launch. A big problem was SCOT blanked out the homing head frequency of the missile on the EW set. So if Cyrano was seen by the Gollies the immediate call was then to strangle SCOT. Latterly a big red button was fitted in the Ops Room to kill it allowing the EW set to see the homing head frequencies. Irrespective of it being… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

SCOT would forever go into blind Acrs IE the ships mast whenever the ship remained on a steady course SCOT worked well down there unfortunately we never seemed to stay on a straight Link up too Sat’s for even a 40 block signal too come through in one burst the amount of Flash in the office signals that came through as one complete signal was rare indeed, I was put on light duties after someone dropped 7alpha 20mm butt place down from a great height that crushed the steel toe cap of my DMSs and worked in the MCO on… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

FXXXING Teleprinter predictive txt again aaaargh

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Gunbuster 4.5s first Rd away was either I orJ band Shell we would then proceed too put up a Su fused Curtains of HE hoping that it either distract the , AM 39 or get peppered with Sharpnel Something too see and believe SEA DARTs main disabling function was expanding steel rods too shred an Aircraft, when Glamorgan took an AM 39 Portside hanger steel chain links were found everywhere very Fxxxing nasty designer shrapnel

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
6 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Steel rods went later on in upgraded to sea dart to blast frag and a laser fuze. Far better.

Chaff Charlie was a good start… Mk8 nowadays cannot do it.

We Did shoot down an exocet in trials in early 83 with wolf… I was in charge of the video recorder in the computer room. Filled us with lots of confidence as did the software mods to the trackers and 967

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Did they update the system reset panel that had about 20+ switches for Seawolf After the Broadsword, 25thmay mishap that could have downed those Argies just wondered Gunbuster

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  lee1

That was then this is now , Macron is a different Kettle of Fish altogether He was only 5 when the Falklands kicked off I doubt if he see’s Helping old Allies( entente Cordiale ) As a Springboard for a global France Then again the EU could always put a Dampener on his Napoleonic Complex

Johan
Johan
8 days ago

agreed, Asking the UK to bail out the Eurostar when owned by French White feathers just proved they are only interested in your Holiday £s

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Johan

WHITE FEATHERS ,surely you mean WHITE national Flag Johan

Johan
Johan
8 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

whoever the French could make the most money out of. HAPPENED BEFORE
and they will never be defended again by a UK army, as face it no one whats to live there, even people from desperate lands just want to leave….

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
10 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

It depends on which units are involved. RSAF is a top of the line force and very very professional. RSNF (Eastern Fleet) who I worked with for a good amount of time are OK. Well trained and capable they can look after themselves in the Gulf. National Guard units are better as they have a more reliable and resilient tribal make up. The Army does have issues as it takes just about anybody. Join the military in KSA and your family is on the state gravy train for health and social support. So families push people to join who are… Read more »

Mr C D Jones
Mr C D Jones
9 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Forgive my ignorance, what’s Wasta?

Phylyp
Phylyp
9 days ago
Reply to  Mr C D Jones

Nepotism, influence, who-you-know.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
9 days ago
Reply to  Mr C D Jones

I once saw a Senior Rate to decide that the ship wasnt going to sea on a certain day because his family had more clout than the COs!

In general life Wasta plays a big part in being able to get things done. Western companies and organisations employ people who have lots of wasta because they make things happen when dealing with the sometimes intransigent government departments.

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Wasta it’s not what you Know it’s who you Blow or It’s not what you do It’s who you Chew

Chris
Chris
8 days ago
Reply to  Mr C D Jones

Ah ok, thank you both, appreciated.

lofty hulme
lofty hulme
7 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Where was this spirit in France when the Nazi drove them out and according to the Great man Churchill in 1942 in public(BBC) broadcast , told the people , that the Nazi Army had just invaded Russia and he anticipated ,Russia would be defeated in 2 months and the Nazi would turn their attention to an invasion of Britain . WELL that didn’t happen and be grateful that on D-Day half the Nazi forces were occupied in being defeated by the Red Army . Stop trying to provoke Russia ,it might just work one of these days and bring disaster… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  lofty hulme

June 1941 operation Babarossa not 1942

lofty hulme
lofty hulme
6 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Apologies –slip of the finger. Still don’t change my point , Russians were never really a enemy , just a lot of people in the West disliked communism, and Stalin saw a chance to expand Communism in Europe after WW2 and though he is long gone NATO still exists fighting wars anywhere ,but in Europe ???

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  lofty hulme

You should see some of my post’s when predictive Txt runs wild ,

Andy P
Andy P
10 days ago

I can’t help but think that that wee enclave could be an excuse for the Russians to extend their frontier when they think they can in a Crimea kind of a way. Glad we’re standing firm at the moment.

Joe16
Joe16
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

A very real possibility. That’s pretty much why our forward presence is in Lithuania, I believe…

Andy P
Andy P
10 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Its good that we’re helping out with Ukraine too, I’ve not looked into it but I hope other allies are basing troops etc in these areas too. It will cause a bit more naws if Russian forces are liable to be confronting guys from Britain/France/Germany etc.

BB85
BB85
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

I know we sold them a load of cvrts but unless they are seriously upgraded with 21st century electronics they are virtually useless. Having said that if they where upgraded with digital network enabled turret with atgms mounted they would be lethal.

DaveyB
DaveyB
9 days ago
Reply to  BB85

The 30mm Rarden will still mess up any of the BMP, BTR or Boomerang series or any other lightly armoured vehicle it may face. It’s a pity that they never developed a decent dual automatic feed for the Rarden that could be mounted in the CVR(T).

JohninMK
JohninMK
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Ukraine is a corrupt basket case with a significant neo Nazi influence. Apart from poking the equivalent of a paper mache stick at the Russians I am not sure what we get out of it apart from perhaps access to large training areas. The Russians showed us their capabilities in moving reinforcements into the area in the early summer, far beyond NATO’s. They will never be able to join NATO given the need for unanimity and no active disputes. Or the EU come to that. Still, our old Antarctic Survey ship that we have given them is in the Black… Read more »

Reaper
Reaper
10 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Really!, more chance of russia invading Canada..

Joe16
Joe16
9 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

More chance with or without European forward presence there? I’d agree that our presence makes the likelihood vanishingly small. But Lithuania, Latvia and others have significant ethnic Russian populations in their eastern regions, and Russia has been issuing them with Russian passports and promising “protection”- same as they did in Ukraine. Russia follows the same policies of utilising social media, internet attacks against government entities, fostering of political and social pro-Russia organisations, and Baltic reliance on Russian energy to maintain influence and popularity in the various countries. If there weren’t forward deployments of troops in those countries, I’m not sure… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
9 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Our forward presecence is in Estonia. Company ish unit attached to the Americans in Poland.

Germany has Lithuania, Canada has Latvia.

Joe16
Joe16
9 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

Thanks for the correction, got mixed up- I should know better where our troops are deployed…!
I think though, that the gist of my point still stands, even if it’s a different ally providing the presence in Lithuania and we’re providing it in Estonia.

David Barry
David Barry
9 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

My worry is that we took Estonia and that Germany took Lithuania.

I’ve nothing against the German military but attended several political discussions in Riga and the Germans on the panels were for appeasement with Russia.

In Estonia, we are truly out on a limb and if the Suwalki gap caves we are going to be neck deep in the manure.

Reaper
Reaper
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

But that would totaly screw russia, they would lose so much more than they gain… they need to trade with europe they have to for money as so much income comes from the european market. Russia won’t do shit.

Andy P
Andy P
10 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

I hear what you’re saying mate but things can change and if the new German government decide to be a bit more greener and want less Russian gas etc then that’s one less lever. There is also the internal machinations at play and if a Leader decides that a good old war will get more votes then its also a possibility.

Sean
Sean
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

If the new German government decides to be Greener; and any new coalition will probably need the Green Party, then the last thing they’ll do is stop importing Russian gas. The reason why the Germans aren’t suffering electricity price hikes like the U.K. is because they been building coal fired power stations. While the U.K. has been becoming greener, Germany has been getting more polluting. First target for the Greens will be the coal fired power stations which are the most polluting. As it is, it’s the Russians, not the Germans, that are already using gas as an economic weapon.… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

They’ll just turn off the Gas Supply to Eorope even better if they do it in winter

JohninMK
JohninMK
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

There is little to no chance that the Russians would attack any of the Baltic states, they have no need for them, either economically or militarily. Instead they are tightening their relationship with Belarus. Very different situation to Crimea where they faced the loss of their major Black Sea operations had Ukraine done a deal with the US, the later already paying for building upgrades in Sevastopol.

Andy P
Andy P
10 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Fair enough mate, I’m glad you’re content but Argentina didn’t really ‘need’ the Malvinas either, didn’t mean that when they wanted to distract the populace that they didn’t have a rethink about it all.

JohninMK
JohninMK
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Got your points to me and Reaper but like him I can’t see Russia putting at risk its cash cow, gas to Europe. The EU and Germany in particular, are totally dependent on that gas both for domestic heat and industrial production. Unless they reverse the decision on their nuke power stations that will not change, regardless of what a Green politician might think. At least 3 EU countries forced Gazprom in 2020 to change contracts from long term pricing to the spot market. The gamble backfired and they are faced with a 4x price increase. Russia’s lever, as you… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
10 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I hear what you’re saying John and I reckon you’re right in the short to medium term. Things can and do change and sometimes its something unpredictable. I hope you have the right of it.

JohninMK
JohninMK
9 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Thanks Andy, unfortunately I envisage that the next few years are going to be more unpredictable than we can imagine. I just wish we had more politicians that were up to the job. Plus that had the balls to enforce military standards of ethics and structures onto the NHS.

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

It was Prussia, which was encorperated into Germany until 1945 then the Soviets took it and it remained their’s every since even though Russia withdrew from Germany and other baltic states in the 90ts She didn’t from there it has a port far too important for russia’s Navy Germany Should as for it back but I don’t think there’s any Germans there now

Andy P
Andy P
6 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Aye, strategy played a part and now its Russia. Things change and continue to change. I used the example of the Falklands earlier, Argentina didn’t ‘need’ the Malvinas, they were just a handy tool by politicians to distract and galvanise the population Maggie was happy to have a war for similar reasons. We’re a lot more simple (and barbaric) than we like to think, we’re also very egotistical and happy to have our ‘just’ war or cause.

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Maggie whitewashed Labour in 83 thanks to National pride affect of the Falklands Galtieri Lost his dictatorship, and his freedom due to the failure of holding the Falklands Global politics is a complicated game of chess and narcissistic credentials and Joe Public loves a winner

Joe16
Joe16
10 days ago

Are Russia running an exercise at the moment?

JohninMK
JohninMK
10 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Don’t think so. The big one, Zapad-21 finished around the 16th Sept.

Rob
Rob
10 days ago

Good. Keep a sharp eye on the mafia state.

mbradleyc
mbradleyc
10 days ago

Remember when Russia was a superpower? When we were scared of them? I think Australia can beat their asses now. I know the UK can.

Roy
Roy
9 days ago
Reply to  mbradleyc

Then I guess there is no need for NATO. If the UK alone can defeat Russia then there is nothing to worry about.

Paul T
Paul T
9 days ago
Reply to  mbradleyc

I don’t share your confidence that either Australia, the UK or even both could defeat Russia, short of using Trident how do you think this could be achieved.?.

Jay R
Jay R
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Russia would quickly overwhelm the UK if they wanted to. They would simply take out our main (4) bases and the UK would be f**ked waiting for the US.

The UK would have zero impact on an offensive against Russia. Russia still practice 1 thing we don’t anymore – Dispersal.

JohninMK
JohninMK
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Nor me. Also Russia was never and still isn’t a ‘superpower’, it was the Soviet Union, a very different kettle of fish and worthy of fear. Where we and NATO have wasted our money over the past 30 years on equipping for what have turned out to be pointless operations, the Russians have been quietly, below the radar for much of the time, been spending on their defence. For example NATO has nothing that comes near their IADS apart from a US carrier task group, which isn’t much use if you are trying to defend Marham, Northwood or Bitburg. To… Read more »

Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus
10 days ago

The Airseekers seem to be busy assets, and 3 hardly seems enough for all the taskings that are probably needed. The Sentinel cut still seems very unwise, too many ISTAR assets have been prematurely scrapped and apart from 3 Wedgetails, that will be working very hard with AEW when they finally arrive what else is there for this kind of work?

RobW
RobW
10 days ago

Beechcraft Shadow R1 – we have 8 at present, due to be 10 in 2023. There is also Reaper, being replaced by Protector. We have 9 Reapers, with 16 Protectors on order. The RAF are lobbying to keep both types from what I have read.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 days ago
Reply to  RobW

That is what I heard too, hope so!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 days ago

We have had 3 ELINT assets with 51 since Nimrod R1.

The Islander flight at Northolt has been replaced by private AC, not the same mission, and different to RC135.

The Shadows, as Rob says, with 14 Sqn.

The RPAS Reaper fleet has Airhandler, another SIGINT mission.

Other SIGINT/ELINT assets with GCHQ obviously, which are many and varied, and certain army regiments.

Last edited 10 days ago by Daniele Mandelli
Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus
9 days ago

Thanks, I’d forgotten about the Shadows, although I imagine they probably lack the range and endurance of Airseeker/Sentinel ? . I hope as Rob says that Reaper is retained alongside Protector ; with only 16, a lot is going to be asked of them.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
8 days ago

Dont forget the RN CTs and all their sneaky stuff fitted to destroyers, frigates and Subs.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
8 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

I did. Did not even consider naval side of things at all!

CESM is a bit of a grey area for me ( obviously )

I know the FIC has been renamed MIXC, and the FEWSG is now MIXG.

SHAMAN / EDDY of course.

No idea if SCU still around or renamed.

Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

And we also have a new Cdr Danial Craig alter ego of Cdr James Bond so up yours peskie Ruskies

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago

OT – The MoD announced yesterday that the new NCF will be HQ’d at Samlesbury.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/permanent-location-of-national-cyber-force-campus-announced

JohninMK
JohninMK
9 days ago

Interesting choice of location, pumping lots of high skilled jobs up into the North west rather than keeping them in the Gloucester area. Rewarding the new Tory voters up there perhaps.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

There is definitely some of that in the decision. They also make noises about a “Cyber Corridor” in the north west but apart from the recently opened GCHQ Office in Manchester which gets the headlines while another clandestine one nearby is ignored there is little there by way of Cyber MoD/GCHQ I’m aware of.

BAE is also at Salmesbury. Assume that the airfield / industrial park is the location.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago

Samlesbury, sorry. I also read that this sector is a growing one in the Manchester area so that will also have a part in the decision.

Last edited 9 days ago by Daniele Mandelli
Tommo
Tommo
6 days ago

Cyber Corridor in the North West I think the police call it ENCRO chat LOL

Frank62
Frank62
9 days ago

Pretty standard operation really.

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
7 days ago

I’ve just looked at Flightradar24 and note that a KC2 Voyager ZZ330 has just done a circle of Kaliningrad and then joined Typhoon over Poland.