British RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft, designed to soak up electronic signals, have been deployed near Crimea twice in the last seven days.
A flight left the UK yesterday morning for the Black Sea before returning to RAF Waddington in the afternoon.
Britain appears to have increased the frequency of surveillance aircraft deployments to the coast of Crimea and Russia in the Black Sea, the second RC-135 Rivet Joint mission in the last seven days was in the region yesterday. pic.twitter.com/BejbiUOQu9
— George Allison (@geoallison) December 29, 2021
Five days before, on the 23rd of December, another RC-135 ‘Rivet Joint’ intelligence-gathering aircraft was deployed to monitor Russian forces around Crimea.
The flights are a regular occurrence, we believe it should be reported as and when it happens to ensure people don’t see this as anything unusual. It should also be noted that these flights are designed to be visible so that the public and Russia know they’re happening.
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.