RAF recieves new Rivet Joint
The Royal Air Force’s 51 Squadron has received it’s second RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft. As part of the Airseeker program in March 2010 the Royal Air Force made the decision too buy three converted KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft serial numbers were 64-14833, 64-14838, 64-14830 from the United States Air Force, the aircraft would be converted into the ISR (Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft, the conversion would take place at the L3 communications plant at Greenville, Texas. The 51 Squadron Aircrew flew with the 55th Wing out of Offutt AFB, Nebraska on the RC-135 Rivet Joint’s to gain training and experience on these all new aircraft.
The RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft and it’s crew specialize in identifying and plotting electronic signals. The three RAF RC-135 aircraft will be fitted with the Family of Advance Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminal or FAB-T as its known; this is being gradually fitted to the USAF RC-135V/W Rivet Joint Fleet, this advanced technology helps the aircraft and the crew to distribute its data and information to its desired recipient a lot quicker than before.
Here is a list of all three of the 51 Squadron aircraft:
ZZ664 Ex USAF KC-135R 64-14833
ZZ665 Ex USAF KC-135R 64-14838
ZZ666 Ex USAF KC-135R 64-14830
ZZ664 was the first Rivet Joint to arrive at 51 Squadron and RAF Waddington on 12th November 2013 and after a long delay before it could start flying training missions out of it’s new home.
After receiving clearance to start flying the crew flew a number of training sorties out of RAF Waddington and even making an appearance at the RAF Waddington 2014 airshow. ZZ664 would be make its first deployment to Iraq, where the crew and the aircraft would remain until December 28th when she made her way back to the UK after a night stop at RAF Akrotiri before flying into RAF Mildenhall the following day while RAF Waddington’s runway was being resurfaced. Whilst at RAF Mildenhall the crew and aircraft would continue to fly missions out of the Suffolk base before being deployed again back to the Iraq area to continue with its mission where it is still conducting missions.
On September 3rd 2015 ZZ665 arrived at RAF Mildenhall from the USA with cal sign ‘SAME 40’ the aircraft is now on a TDY to RAF Mildenhall doing test flights before it’s sent down to replace ZZ664, which is currently deployed.