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Multiple news organisations are reporting the news that the RAF is to send British RC-135 to patrol airspace adjacent to North Korea.

As quoted in The Mirror, an intelligence source is claimed to have said:

“This is all about making sure every step is taken to avoid something going wrong as efforts are made to solve this crisis through diplomacy. They are monitoring how Japan and China and other surrounding countries are reacting to each development.”

We have reached out for comment on this story and will update when it is received. We have also subsequently been informed by other media sources that this is not happening.

The United Kingdom purchased three KC-135R aircraft for conversion to RC-135W Rivet Joint standard under the Airseeker project, let’s take a closer look.

Acquisition of the three aircraft is budgeted at £634m. The aircraft form No. 51 Squadron RAF, based at RAF Waddington along with the RAF’s other ISTAR assets. They are expected to remain in service until 2045.

The Royal Air Force describe the platform as follows:

“The RC-135W Rivet Joint is equipped with a variety of sensors, allowing its multi-disciplined crew to intercept and exploit emissions across the electromagnetic spectrum, providing both strategic and tactical level intelligence.”

The roots of the deal lie in Project Helix, launched in 2003, the aim was to study options for extending the service life of the Nimrod R1’s out into the next two decades. It wasn’t until 2008 that Rivet Joint was seriously considered. Helix became Project Airseeker, under which three KC-135 aircraft were converted to RC-135W standard.

The first RC-135W was delivered ahead of schedule to the RAF in November 2013 and the type has been used extensively to support British and allied operations in the Middle East and around the world.

The RC-135 signals intelligence aircraft is fitted with an on-board sensor suite that allows the aircraft to detect, identify and geolocate signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. The information can then be distributed in a variety of formats to a wide range of platforms through Rivet Joint’s extensive communications suite.

Chief of Materiel (Air) at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, Air Marshal Simon Bollom, said:

“This milestone for the Airseeker programme, coming ahead of schedule, gives the UK another world-class real-time signals intelligence and surveillance capability supporting forces in the air and on the ground.

It also marks the significant achievement of the Defence Equipment and Support team in delivering this outstanding aircraft to the RAF.”

It was revealed last year that the RAF had deployed Rivet Joint to provide intelligence and analysis of the situation in Northern Iraq. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed the deployment:

“I can confirm we have deployed Rivet Joint, our very latest surveillance aircraft, the successor to Nimrod, to give us a much better picture, more intelligence and analysis of what is happening on the ground which will help the Iraqi government, the Kurdish forces and the Americans.”

The information and intelligence generated by Rivet Joint was forwarded on to the Iraqi government, Kurdish fighters and US forces in the region to assist in combating Islamic State.

21 COMMENTS

    • Probably an Allied base somewhere in south Korea or Japan. Honestle we should just stay out of it. If the goverment wants to interfere in matters across the glove it needs global military bases and a strong military, yet continues to delude themselves that they can still do that whilst cutting all three services to the bone.

  1. Sam why should we keep out of it .The fat lad is a problem to all the world and again the problem will be left to the only real power the Yanks while the weak Russians and Chinese leave all the real work to the yank led Nato

    • I agree with you Mr. P; ‘The Fat Lad’ as you put it (I like that one BTW) is trouble and Trump is finally standing up to him but Sam’s point is valid. Our Armed Forces – the best in the world in my opinion – are asked to do more and more but continue to be woefully underfunded. It’s truly shameful and has to change!

      • ‘I agree with you Mr. P; ‘The Fat Lad’ as you put it (I like that one BTW) is trouble and Trump is finally standing up to him but Sam’s point is valid’

        ‘The Fat Lad’ is only concerned with preserving his family’s dictatorship. Trump ‘standing up to him’ is just a desperate attempt to appeal to his supporters as his ratings slide. Two incompetent duffers bellowing to their idiot supporters.

      • How many corpses at home do you want when crazies like him have their finger on a REAL button?? Successive US administrations have kicked this can down the road until now there is no road left. Kim Jung Un is a bully and like any bully needs someone to stand up to him. Trump will not start military action but he will finish it and Kim Jung Un knows it. No missiles will be fired at Guam next week and China will suddenly get off their arses and do something to keep him under control. Love him or hate him but Trump has balls and is prepared to stand his ground; way better than Obama’s infamous red line in Syria and ‘Strategic Patience’ (i.e. do nothing) on North Korea.

  2. We do have global military bases Sam, not in the sense you’re thinking of tho like the US military bases with thousands of troops etc, but we do have global military stations/garrisons that as soon as you land troops onto become a military base.

    Don’t think there is anywhere in the world we can’t get to without a possible military base in between, ok we haven’t got the numbers like the US but even still they’re still strategically in good positions.

  3. Should the situation continue to degrade, then the real kingpin here is China. I am sure this current poker game of a situation is causing some sleepless nights in Beijing and China is the only player that has any influence..

    My guess would be a Chinese instigated coup, (if things continue to escalate and crazy boy can’t be talked down). I would think they are about sick to death of the North Koreans.

    A war on the Korean peninsula would have unthinkable consequences that would ripple round the world, it would probably rapidly escalate, massive death toll, widespread destruction and end up with the limited Nuclear weapons use, if the Americans couldn’t neutralise the North Korean weapons fast enough.

    Even if the conflict could be contained, the world wide economic crash that followed would be all consuming and horrendous.

    Such a conflict would suck China in, their hand would be forced to act, they would feel pressured to invade and occupy North Korea.

    In my opinion it would be the only option left open to them. The whole situation is really too dreadful to contemplate.

  4. Hello, you’re missing the point i think guys, by playing a part in global op’s and supportive duties to our allies will only demand that budget be monitored and given to the forces.

    The more eyes and ears the Americans and Japanese get are vital to a swift conclusion of this crisis.

    This was years of build up and denial by the region and the headlines stating that Trump is to blame is just ridiculous. Trump has balls and China and North Korea are about to find out.

    We can’t sit back and let another leader gain access to nuclear missiles and threaten the free world.

    What next, Iran, African states and god knows who next.

    another thing, don’t you think that the Chinese community in the uk and abroad have done a remarkable job in staying low key in the countries that they live in and almost escape all the immigration negativity surrounding other nationals?

  5. Steven, agreed, our deployed RC135 is a very useful asset and a worthwhile contribution.

    I also agree re Chinese immigration, they work hard and contribute to society.

    Regards Trump, well, I agree that a strong position needs to be taken here, but North Korea already has Nuclear weapons … Will they use them if attacked , hell yes, he’s mad enough and he would strike.

    He knows if push comes to shove he’s done for, the qualative edge of the joint US , South Korean Military, would gut his army in short order, so maximum commitment and go down fighting..

    If I lived in Seoul ior Tokyo I would be white washing my windows this weekend…

    • I don’t think Steven was praising the Chinese community John, sounds like he thinks they’re all sleeper agents haha

      • Tbh, the Russians were famous for having sleeper cells.

        I think the Chinese will be up to no good also in my unprofessional opinion and likewise the north..

        My observation of the chinese communities in general is that they are low key and have done well in staying out the headlines imo

  6. Assuming the Chinese don’t step in, can the US decapitate the regime before it devastates Seoul? Or be sure of intercepting any North Korean nuclear response they fail to stop? The aftermath of any action to depose KJU will be interesting. The Chinese don’t want a unified Korea or a US occupation on their border so like John Clark said they may act before the US does. If they do act first will the US or South Korea want a Chinese occupation force next door?

  7. If true, although there seem to be indications that the story is not true, the aircraft should be based at Kadena to augment the already stretched thin fleet of US RC-135s. Crews are already based there capable of supporting more RCs, and there are existing SCIF facilities on base. The NORK problem affects all countries in the region and eventually the entire world should the piss colored midget decide to let one fly.

  8. With regards to a Chinese occupation force, far from ideal, but its probably the best outcome, at least the situation would be stable with China in charge.
    They would be out of there as soon as they “installed” a pro Chinese Government.

    Taking on responsibility for a failed state would be one hell of an expensive undertaking, but I really don’t think they would have an option. I could see a back room deal with the US being made to make this happen, wouldn’t surprise me if such a possibility had already been quietly discussed between them.

  9. I think the main problem with North Korea is not its alleged nuclear capability but the tens of thousands of artillery pieces ready to bombard Seoul. How do you stop that?

  10. Unfortunately you can’t, not initially anyway. I would envisage a shooting war on the Korean peninsula over inside two weeks, with hundreds of thousands killed.

    An initial North Korean artillery and armoured push would be rapidly reversed, air dominance would be achieved in 24 hours, 72 hours in C4 facilities would be all but destroyed and North Korean Military capacity would all but collapse.

    Then the Nukes start flying….

  11. Hi

    The idea that any of us are going to start a shooting match with N Korea is literally insane.Because as others have pointed out, when push comes to shove they will use their nukes to defend their regime – from their point of view it’s entirely logical.

    Let’s me be clear, the North Korean regime is hideous and the country is a prison camp for its people anad it would be lot better if it were like South Korea – but turning the region into a glowing pile of cinders is not the way to go. The idea of showing the ‘fat man’ who’s boss is nonsense talk. In NK he is the boss – get used to it.

    The reasons the NKs have accelerated their nuclear programme comes from China’s decision a few years ago to change the two countries’ mutual defence pact. Originally when it w as signed c.1960 in the aftermath of the Korean War it merely stated that China or NK would come to each other’s aid if the other country was at war (no matter who started it). But relatively recently the Chinese said they were changing it. They would only come to NK’s aid if NK was attacked first. In other words if Pyongyang were to launch an aggressive war – there would be no Chinese aid – since then the regime has made nukes an integral and central part of the state in all its propaganda, making it impossible for them to give them up without massive loss of face among their own populace.

    Second, NK read the lesson of the Iraq war well. Saddam was destroyed because he DIDN’T have weapons of mass destruction. So it is entirely logical (if you’re a paranoid dictator) to develop a own nuclear weapon as an insurance policy. After all – let’s be honest here – it is simply what every other nuclear power in the world has done.

    We can see from today’s stand-down by the NKs over a demonstration missile strike near Guam that they’ve stepped back. Despite the charged rhetoric on both sides, we don’t appear to be going to nuclear war just yet. Thank god.

    Sadly for those here saying we ‘can’t allow’ NK to have nukes, they have them and we’re going to have to live with it for now. Because the option of forcibly trying to remove them is going to provoke the very thing that we all wish to avoid – a nuclear bomb going off somewhere.

    Our most sensible policies here? Containment, diplomacy and sanctions and just holding the ring and waiting for the regime to eventually implode/evolve. Yes they are dull, often frustrating. But better than any alternative. Nuclear-armed gunboat diplomacy is not going to work here.

    Frankly this is all about diplomacy by megaphone – they are shouting and so have we been.

    Best Tim

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