Sixty Royal Air Force airmen participated in RC-135 Rivet Joint upgrade training at Offutt AFB, Neb., according to base officials. The training took place in mid-April and included classroom instruction, working with a simulator, and flying in the latest version of the RC-135, states a May 22 Offutt release. The United States is providing three Rivet Joint electronic eavesdropping airplanes to the RAF under a foreign military sale. The Brits are scheduled to receive the first airframe later this year and have all three aircraft in place by 2018, according to the release. In the interim, since 2011, RAF airmen have flown on more than 1,100 RC-135 missions and accrued more than 20,000 hours in the air on US Rivet Joints. The upgrade training was meant to bring the RAF personnel up to date with the RC-135 configuration that they will operate. (Offutt report by Ryan Hansen) (See also Friendly Review.)
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.