A British RC-135W Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft has been operating off the coast of Syria.

This is routine and normal but I believe it’s important that people are aware of it.

The Open Source Intelligence Twitter account Intel Air & Sea followed the event earlier, if you don’t follow them then I’d suggest you go do that now.

This comes not long after British RC-135 aircraft were operating over Black Sea, this heavy usage demonstrates the apparent utility these aircraft have to the Ministry of Defence.

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.

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farouk
farouk
2 months ago

Why? I would have thought that Ayios Nikolaos could do the same job but more on the QT (Nice Sgts Mess there, mind)

Last edited 2 months ago by farouk
Hamish
Hamish
2 months ago
Reply to  farouk

Because it is active training as well as live intel. Plus likely lots of activity to report on!

Tim Hirst
Tim Hirst
2 months ago
Reply to  farouk

I’m sure they are also very active, but some signals are only line of sight or at least are at levels that can be analysed.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
2 months ago

Tartus Naval Base

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Yeah there was the smoke screen going off around the port last week..maybe we wanted to have a good look at what was going off.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Yes, from what I saw did not look too effective, though. Suppose, among other possibilities, with CSG21 due back a preview of the opposition doesn’t come amiss.

Damo
Damo
2 months ago

I wonder what you can actually hide when one of these is around? Sure the Russians will play silly buggers trying to confuse and pillock us as would we if a Russian version came by. Part of me thinks that with the quality of surveillance equipment nowadays you can’t hide much in peace time

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Damo

As F says above, JSSU always there regardless of airborne assets, though they have a different mission to these.

Troodos Golf DET does the ELINT mission like these platforms I believe.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
2 months ago

Also been operating over the Black Sea close to Crimea monitoring the renewed Russian buildup near Ukraine, really pissing off the Russians.

Last edited 2 months ago by Watcherzero
dave12
dave12
2 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

The Russians just lost two para guys in a training drop on the Belarus Poland border.

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

I’ll bet it ‘really’ pisses the Russians off, all relevant information is passed on to NATO, (UN evidence gathering) and of course the Ukraine….

I would imagine we are also assisting our good friends and NATO allies the Polish, keeping a very close eye on border activities…

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

The Poles have always been good allies of the UK when it came to the crunch. We should certainly be supporting them overtly on this pretty obvious test of NATO that is being cooked up. I’m a bit surprised that we haven’t sent a bit of a bigger force on a cooperative ‘training exercise’ – there must be pre announced missions that could be unsubtly beefed up a bit. I’m uncomfortable that with the Polish and Ukrainian noise making going on Putin will benefit mainly from the EU’s totally incompetent interference in defence and foreign policy. Look at the mess… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago

I 100% agree, we should deploy in Brigade strength to Poland, along with a similar strength French and US deployment, to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Polish brothers and sisters.

Form a small NATO Division.

Strength is the only thing the Russians and their proxies understand, it requires a nose to nose, ‘just try it’ approach and they will blink first.

Still, I’m sure the Germans will ….. Do sod all and look the other way…..

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

I agree we should send a small amount of very good kit there.

The Germans will do nothing: partly for reasons of the historical prism.

France will try and play the role of statesman – remember the Mistral -> Russia contract?

The ONLY thing that will galvanise NATO is if USA weight in on a big beefed up ‘exercise’.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

Gewrmany is Lead nation for Battle Group Lithuania.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

There is of course Enhanced Forward Presence in place with four multinational NATO battle groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. UK is lead nation for Estonia, Canada for Latvia, Germany for Lithuania, US for Poland.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

Yes agree, this thing on the polish boarder is very much looking like a bit of an unconventional geopolitical play by Russia and Belarus. It’s taking advantage of the falling out between the EU and Poland’s political leadership. It would not surprise me at all of Russian and Belarus are moving the pieces around to create a humanitarian crisis, either large numbers of people dying on the boarder during winter (a real potential as the poor refugees being thrown at the boarder will have no idea what a Northern European winter night can bring) or some form of shooting episode… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Frightening thoughts but much in line with my fears.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

NATO has a multinational EFP BG in Poland, led by USA.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Unfortunately a battle groups is not going to be much help with this one. The engineers yes as well as other resources.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Appparently we just sent 10 Sappers to Poland to help them repair the border fence.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Wonder if those 10 sappers have a wings n dagger badge actually on there berets?

JohninMK
JohninMK
2 months ago

From that flight pattern it looks as if it was spending as much time off the Lebanese coast as the Syrian. No doubt having a good listen to what is happening there as well as further inland into Syria. Given that the two major Russian bases are on the coast in northern Syria and are presumably under 24/7/365 monitoring from Mt Olympus (I assume, not being in the trade, that was what farouk and Daniele were commenting on earlier), from IAF assets and the regular trips to the Crimea, I’m not sure that the Russians would be too bothered. Just… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Yes. There are actually 2 mountains. Mt Olympus is radar, Mt Troodos has the other stuff.
RAF Troodos station is a retained site and outpost of JSSU.