The Red Arrows completed a flypast with a RC-135W Rivet Joint above Lincolnshire yesterday, marking 10 years of operational flying for the aircraft with 51 Squadron at RAF Waddington.

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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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. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jim (@guest_823477)
18 days ago

I think it is very much time for the UK to look at fitting the boom refuelling system on some of our voyagers for aircraft like RC135, C17,P8 and E7. I think the US is the only country in NATO operating this type of refuelling system and given the warm words of the commander in felon to his European partners come November I think it’s very much a capability we need sovereign control over.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_823481)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Totally agree Jim.

We will probably have to wait for Air tankers contract to expire in 2035.

Another of Blairs PPI gifts, that keep on giving!

The RAF needs a fleet of 12 ‘owned’ A330 MRTT’s with boom and wing pods, I would add a large cargo door and and an interior capable of rapid change from max tanker/ max freight/ medical/ passenger, or a combination of the above.

We need more flexibility in a fleet that’s likely to become ever more important with UCAV’s to refuel as well as other air assets.

Jim (@guest_823755)
17 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Not sure if we have to wait for airtanker contract to finish. The aircraft is already set up for it and anything that sees the voyagers used more results in more money for airtanker.

Hopefully once the PFI is finished we can just buy all the tankers for cheap and keep it all going, might be able to generate some long term savings this way.

Martin (@guest_823673)
18 days ago

Great aircraft, very useful but how old are these planes? older than the crew?.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_823718)
18 days ago
Reply to  Martin

I’d read they were actually the youngest of the KC fleet.
They, and the organisation that supports and underpins what they do, is one of our niche gold plated assets.

Martin (@guest_823719)
18 days ago

great bit of kit, very very useful,

DaveyB (@guest_823759)
17 days ago

One of the River Joints is the oldest flying military B707. It was originally a tanker aircraft, retired to the bone yard. Then brought out of retirement for a complete rebuild and refurbishment to turn it into a River Joint. Which zero hour’d the airframe.

Fedaykin (@guest_823960)
17 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Not quite, the RC-135 has a different airframe to the 707, they are different aircraft with high commonality of parts. The RAF RIVET JOINT used some of the last KC-135 airframes to come off the Boeing line making them the youngest examples of the variant. USAF examples of the type are older with far higher hours due to their usage during the Vietnam war.