The Royal Air Force has been using its new RC-135W Rivet Joint intelligence aircraft over Iraq to monitor the humanitarian situation on the ground, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Monday 18 August during a visit to Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus.
The move follows the use of transport aircraft for dropping supplies to refugees on the run for Islamic State (IS) fighters. Tornado aircraft were also moved to the area, along with Airbus MRTT Voyager support.
The first of three Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft arrived in the UK on 12 November 2013, replacing the obsolete Nimrod patrol aircraft. The purchase has been criticized, as the aircraft – delivered from surplus USAF inventory – are fifty years old. It is therefore understandable the RAF is quick to deploy the snoopy aircraft and go public about it.
The USAF has been using RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft for years. One recently caused a stir in Sweden, overflying the country unauthorized while supposedly on the run for Russian aircraft.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest