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UK extends Royal Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft support contract


UK’s three RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft will benefit from an extension to the support arrangement with the US Government until 2035 in a deal worth £970 million. The Ministry of Defence say that the agreement will continue to benefit from maintenance, spare parts, engineering support, technical data and access to capability updates.

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UK extends Royal Air Force RC 135 Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft support contract 01 Extending Airseeker support reaffirms the continuing cooperation between the UK and US in this important Defence capability area (Picture source: Sgt Neil Bryden)


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.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “The Rivet Joint Cooperative Programme is a fantastic example of the UK/US special relationship and the support for our Airseeker fleet has been extended for a further decade. With a commitment to invest almost £1 billion, this agreement will ensure that we, and our allies, can benefit from the aircraft’s impressive surveillance capability for years to come.”

Signing the MOU on behalf of the UK, Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) said: “Extending Airseeker support reaffirms the continuing cooperation between the UK and US in this important Defence capability area. I am delighted that Airseeker will continue to receive world-class sustainment and follow-on development support right up until the current UK out of service date in 2035.”