An RC-135 Rivet Joint ‘signals intelligence’ surveillance aircraft has been monitoring the Russian fleet in 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.

This isn’t the first deployment of this type by any means, this has been ongoing for months now but activity has increased recently due to the Russian invasion.

Open Source Intelligence Account @AirSpecInt tweeted the following, I’d recommend you follow them for more.

Please note that we’re aware this happens often but I firmly believe that it’s important to report this frequent occurrence so people are aware that it’s a frequent occurrence. If it isn’t reported, how else would people know?

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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Sean
Sean
1 day ago

Or to be more accurate, “ British surveillance aircraft monitors what’s left of the Russian Black Sea Fleet” 😆

David Steeper
1 day ago
Reply to  Sean

😀😀👍

Bacchus
Bacchus
1 day ago

Has anyone heard any more about what happened to the Admiral Makarov? I’d been anticipating news of its sinking if the hit and fire reports were true, but heard nothing since those initial reports.

OldSchool
OldSchool
1 day ago
Reply to  Bacchus

Sadly false news it seems. AM”s current location looks like its acting as guardship off the Crimean coast. See the Black Sea map;

H I Sutton (@CovertShores) / Twitter

Last edited 1 day ago by OldSchool
Joe16
Joe16
1 day ago

Willing to bet that UK and US intelligence are the biggest reason for the Ukrainian “big news” successes: the number of generals dead; the large vessels hit; probably a lot of the situational awareness of where Russian forces are building up, so that Ukrainian forces know where to push and where to give ground.
Not taking anything away from the Ukrainian fighters, their generals, nor all the hardware that’s been provided by many countries. But intelligence makes all the difference for a competent, well-equipped fighting force.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 day ago
Reply to  Joe16

Russian tv seems to be going into meltdown now claiming how can poor little old Russia hope to win out against ‘World Standard NATO weapons’, they really do seem to after all the bravado to be getting very defeatist and angry with those behind the war, yes their notorious war corespondent in his anger actually called it a war before correcting himself. Only concern is that all this picturing of the conflict to ease the defeat of it being against NATO to unite the country could lead to desperate moves.

Joe16
Joe16
1 day ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Well, that’s quite an about-face from “NATO is weak and they’d better not stick their noses where they don’t belong, if they know what’s good for them!” That’s an interesting catch about “mentioning the war” on live TV, I wonder how much trouble that will get him in, or if it’s part of an evolving narrative. I can’t imagine that a paid propoganist like that would mis-speak in quite such a manner. While there’s still some discussion as to whether Russian gear is objectively bad, let alone compared to western equipment, I do think that the big problem Russia has… Read more »

philipthompson
philipthompson
21 hours ago
Reply to  Joe16

Any of those Russian ships could blast the RAF out of the sky. then what?

Joe16
Joe16
57 seconds ago
Reply to  philipthompson

Which ships, out of interest, and what do you mean by “the RAF”? Since the Moskva was sunk, the Black Sea fleet seem to be limited to Osa short ranged systems and naval derivative of the Buk (medium ranged). So, categorically, not “any” of the ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet could shoot down RAF aircraft- some of them don’t even have SAMs at all. Do you just mean the RC135s and odd Typhoon that are flying around the edge of Ukraine, or are you hypothesising some kind of airborne intervention, where the RAF flies every airframe type they have… Read more »

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
1 day ago

I see looking at Wikipedia (updated 7 hrs ago) that with reference to the Ukrainian claim that they had hit the Russian frigate Admiral Makarov and its saying it was a misunderstanding and was actually the Serna class landing ship. Such a shame, would have been a great scalp. Apologies if its already been mentioned on here earlier.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 day ago
Reply to  Cymbeline

Also hit some Raptors around that time and indeed Snake Island itself too which might have added to the confusion. As you say a great shame but at least good to know that anything in or around Snake Island is getting taken out which must make re supply a nightmare for the Rushists.

Michael S.
Michael S.
1 day ago

I think this is significant because after the war started, UK and US were reluctant to fly over the black sea.

Mark
Mark
23 hours ago

Shame we didn’t build a refueling aircraft that could refuel it, rather than relying on the USAF 100th Air Refueling Wing to do the job. The Netherlands had the right idea when they ordered their A332 aircraft. They have boom and drogues..

Lair
Lair
21 hours ago

I’m curious why you think signals intelligence should be in quotes. It’s not some nickname, it’s the official role of that aircraft. ‘Rivet Joint’, on the other hand, is a nickname and could well have been quoted.