USAF Rivet Joint

Three Rivet Joints (one of which is seen below, photography by Craig Hoyle) will enter RAF service from 2014 under what the DE&S has described as “the most complex combined Foreign Military Sales case and cooperative support arrangement that the UK has undertaken with the USAF since World War Two.” The acquisition, which survived the nation’s recent Strategic Defence and Security Review process, will involve three stored KC-135 tankers being converted to the RC-135W standard by L-3 Communications.

The DE&S says the UK’s new assets – which will be dubbed Air Seekers – “will be supported, maintained and upgraded as part of a larger UK/US fleet of 20 aircraft”. The USAF currently operates 22 RC-135-series aircraft, as listed in Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database.

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Rivet Joint FINT Jan 2010.jpg


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