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.
RC-135 Rivet Joint
Now returning after mission over the Black Sea
— BlueSky (@AirSpecInt) May 9, 2022
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.