UK Rivet Joints – will the RAF get a new ‘Damien’?

During a visit to the Royal Air Force’s Waddington air base in Lincolnshire late last week, I was told that the service’s first RC-135W Rivet Joint will be touching down in the UK in October or November this year.



To be operated by the personnel of 51 Sqn, the UK’s “RJs” will be identical in configuration to the examples flown by the US Air Force’s 55th Wing from Offutt AFB in Nebraska. Indeed, the allies already fly joint missions on the latter, under a long-term collaboration agreement, and more than 100 UK personnel have been trained to date.


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Pictured in the USAF image above (which rather crudely photoshopped in RAF engine covers but omitted to also adapt the reflections, tut), the first of three aircraft rolled out at L-3′s Greenville site in Texas in May carries the service registration ZZ664. That gets me wondering whether the next two being acquired via the UK’s Airseeker programme will be numbered 665 and 666, as could logically be expected.


Re-using “the number of the beast” would be tempting fate rather. In May 1995, the crew of an RAF Nimrod R1 tasked with providing the same electronic intelligence role as the future Rivet Joints survived a ditching event in the Moray Firth, after a fire broke out in-flight. Nicknamed “Damien” (in a reference to the horror novel and movie The Omen), it’s number was XW666. Spooky.

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2 Responses to UK Rivet Joints – will the RAF get a new ‘Damien’?

  1. Bill Strandberg 22 October, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    The three aircraft will be 664, 665 and 666. The reason is very simple: if you add all the numbers individually, i.e., 6=6=4=6=6=….., you equal 51, which is the squadron number. I don’t think the “666″ had anything to do with the R.1 accident. As shown over Afghanistan Nimrod fires were not an unknown factor.

  2. Bill Strandberg 22 October, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Of course it is 6+6+4+6+6+5+6+6+6=51.

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