The U.K.'s first Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft arrives at RAF Waddington. (Senior Aircraftman Blake Carruther / U.K. MoD)
The U.K. has taken delivery of the first of three Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft. The Boeing RC-135V/W will form part of the U.K.’s Project Airseeker ISR program, according to a Ministry of Defence announcement.
The Royal Air Force’s 51 Squadron has been flying U.S. Rivet Joints in preparation for the aircraft entering British service in late 2014. RAF crews have already amassed more than 1,800 sorties and 32,000 flying hours while training with the U.S. 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. All three aircraft are scheduled to be fully operational by mid-2017.
Air Vice-Marshal Peter Ewen, Director Air Support at Defense Equipment and Support, said the Rivet Joints will “form a vital component of the nation’s future ISTAR [intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance] capabilities.”