An RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft in service since 1962 surpassed 50,000 flight hours during a mission over Afghanistan March 4, becoming the second Rivet Joint in the Air Force’s inventory to reach this milestone. The first Rivet Joint hit this mark in March 2008. “With only 17 of them in inventory—and about 25 percent of the fleet here [in Southwest Asia]—it is an indication of how valuable an asset the RJ is to operations,” said Lt. Col. Richard Linehan, 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron commander, from an air base in the region. One of many examples demonstrating the importance of the RC-135 to supporting ground troops took place in February during the Afghan-led Operation Moshtarak in southern Afghanistan when intelligence provided by an RC-135 thwarted an insurgent plan to ambush US helicopters, said Linehan. (379th AEW report by SSgt. Kelly White)
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."