British Rivet Joint Fledges the Nest

A Royal Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint crew flew the type’s first sortie in British airspace from its home base at RAF Waddington since delivery from the US, RAF officials announced. “We have worked very closely with our colleagues in the US on this project and today’s first flight signifies the commencement of a new and potent” intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability, said RAF RC-135 procurement boss Air Marshal Simon Bollom in a May 28 release. The RAF ordered three “off the shelf” RC-135s as a cost-conscious replacement for the prematurely retired Nimrod R.1 intelligence fleet, slashed in 2011. RAF aircrews have flown with the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Neb., to bridge the gap and enhance interoperability. “Having jointly operated US aircraft with British and American personnel for three years, this proven strategic intelligence and surveillance capability will be an excellent addition,” Bollom said. The fleet is slated for full operational capability in 2017.