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.

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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Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago

This really is a no brainer MOD.

Range: Well beyond 100 km

https://www.mbda-systems.com/product/marte-er/

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago

Easy to monitor I suppose when it’s either clanking about as a knackered old rust bucket or stationary at the bottom of the sea!

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
1 month ago

See one of these in the air over Eastern Europe most days on FlightTrader24.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

Is there a big reason they don’t just pop one with the typhoons in Romania for a week and then rotate if needed? The transit time from the U.K. must be exhausting on the crew. I’m not a great flyer so always tired and stressed. Not great at being sealed in a tube with other humans

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

A number of reasons pal. Engineering support, maintenance facilities, but mainly due to the sensitive nature of the work they carry out. And also they probably have some very specialist equipment to download and store/share the intelligence they hoover up and send out to waiting customers. They could deploy these is they really wanted too, but life is easier when they can return to home base. And the crews are used to and train for long endurance sorties.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Exactly. Some of the “support infrastructure” for the capability is nearby to Waddo.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago

Digby??

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Yes. And I understand some in Waddington itself. But primarily at JSSU Digby in one of its several component parts.

WSM
WSM
1 month ago

399 at Digby 😒 that’s several years I’ll never get back lol (inclined to sue the recruiting office haha !)

dan
dan
1 month ago

Nice that the Brits can take some of the pressure off the American recon aircraft around Ukraine. From what I’ve read they are very pleased with the capabilities of their Rivet Joints.

Andrew Berry
Andrew Berry
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

Five eyes allies. One in all in……touch one and get punched back by all. Been that way since WW1