An RC-135 Rivet Joint ‘signals intelligence’ surveillance aircraft has been patrolling close to the Russian border near Kaliningrad.

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, radar and other systems.

This comes not long after British RC-135 and Sentinel surveillance 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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
13 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rob N
Rob N
2 months ago

Nice to see we are returning the compliment of visiting near Russian airspace, after they visit us so frequently.

Damo
Damo
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

I’m sure we’re as bad as them. They just use worse aircraft

Sean
Sean
2 months ago
Reply to  Damo

I doubt we switch off our transponders which makes the aircraft a hazard to civilian aircraft.

Frank62
Frank62
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

The West has a long history of overflying Soviet/Russian territory, which should put Russia’s buzzing our borders in perspective.

dan
dan
2 months ago

I wonder if the Russians or Chinese when they see a Rivet Joint approaching their territory they shut down most of their newer radars, comms, ect and just leave the older, legacy stuff running? The only downside to doing this would be in the event of an attack a Rivet Joint could be sent in first followed by B-2s, F-22s, F-35s, ect knowing that the advanced radars will be turned off.

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

Brave British lads, doing their bit for blighty, unlike the Russians flying down the North Sea, sneaky Ivan fighting his dirty underhand war…..

Tomartyr
Tomartyr
2 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

It would probably help to counter that narrative if the Russian bombers were actually talking with ATC like we see here.

Last edited 2 months ago by Tomartyr
MikeB1947
MikeB1947
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

The Russians might send up a couple of MiG-31s or SU-35s to escort it “off the premises”, as we do when their Tu-95s pay us a visit.

Ulya
Ulya
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

The west would never be silly enough to attack Kaliningrad Dan, the cost to us all would be to high, but to answer your question, SAM brigades to not need to power up at all for this sort of patrol, radar stations track all and then send airforce up to monitor

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

I remembered this article from earlier in the year which was interesting.

“OSCE identifies Russian 51U6 Kasta 2E1 radar in Ukraine”
https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/osce-identifies-russian-51u6-kasta-2e1-radar-in-ukraine

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

And read this yesterday. Turkey appears to be buying a second batch of the S400.

“Belarus negotiates purchase of S-400 air defence systems”
https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/belarus-negotiates-purchase-of-s-400-air-defence-systems

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
2 months ago

All these flights are about, for both side’s, is an opportunity to provide purposeful training and experience for the crew’s.
If you are going to go to the trouble of procuring these aircraft and training these aircrew, then of course you would want them practicing, sensibly, in as realistic scenario, as you can provide.

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

It comes to something when the RAF can’t undertake simple sightseeing pleasure flights in the Baltic in its vintage RC135’s. Nothing sinister going on, Nothing to see here, move along please…..😀