Boeing RC-135W Airseeker/Rivet Joint (RAF)

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.
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SKB
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Boeing RC-135W Airseeker/Rivet Joint (RAF)

Post by SKB »

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The United Kingdom bought three KC-135R aircraft for conversion to RC-135W Rivet Joint standard under the Airseeker project. Acquisition of the three aircraft was budgeted at £634m, with entry into service planned for October 2014.The aircraft formed No. 51 Squadron RAF, based at RAF Waddington along with the RAF's other ISTAR assets. They are expected to remain in British service until 2045.

Previously, the Royal Air Force had gathered signals intelligence with three Nimrod R1,converted in the 1970s from the Nimrod MR1 maritime patrol aircraft. When the time came to upgrade the maritime Nimrods to MRA4 standard, Project Helix was launched in August 2003 to study options for extending the life of the R1 out to 2025. The option of switching to Rivet Joint was added to Helix in 2008 and the retirement of the R1 became inevitable when the MRA4 was cancelled under the UK's 2010 budget cuts. The R1's involvement over Libya in Operation Ellamy delayed its retirement until June 2011.

Helix became Project Airseeker, under which three KC-135R airframes are being converted to RC-135W standard by L-3 Communications. L-3 will also provide ongoing maintenance and upgrades under a long-term agreement. The three airframes are former United States Air Force KC-135R, all of which first flew in 1964 but will be modified to the latest RC-135W standard before delivery. The three RAF airframes are the youngest KC-135s in the USAF fleet. As of September 2010 the aircraft had approximately 23,200 flying hours, 22,200 hours and 23,200 hours.

51 Sqn personnel began training at Offutt in January 2011 for conversion to the RC-135. The first RC135W (ZZ664) was delivered ahead of schedule to the Royal Air Force on 12 November 2013, for final approval and testing by the Defence Support and Equipment team prior to its release to service from the UK MAA.

Fleet
1. ZZ664 Delivered 12th November 2013.
2. ZZ665 Delivered 3rd September 2015.
3. ZZ666 Delivered 8th June 2017.

Crew: 27: 3 pilots, 2 navigators, 22 rear-crew members
Length: 136 ft 3 in (41.53 m)
Wingspan: 130 ft 10 in (39.88 m)
Height: 41 ft 8 in (12.70 m)
Wing area: 2,433 ft² (226 m²)
Empty weight: 175,000 lb (V/W models) (79,545 kg)
Loaded weight: 297,000 lb (135,000 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 322,500 lb (146,000 kg)
Powerplant: 4 × CFM International F-108-CF-201 turbofan engines, 22,000 lbf (96 kN) each
Maximum speed: 580 mph (933 km/h)
Range: 3,450 mi (5,550 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,200 m)
Rate of climb: 4,900 ft/min (1,490 m/min)


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Gabriele
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Re: RC-135W Rivet Joint (RAF)

Post by Gabriele »

Jane's has a news up about the single british Rivet Joint reportedly being out on ISIS hunt again already.
You might also know me as Liger30, from that great forum than MP.net was.

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SKB
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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by SKB »

Edited the thread name, as the RAF have renamed 'Rivet Joint' to 'Airseeker'.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by bobp »

As I understand it when Air to Air refuelling is required we need the assistance of our US allies.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by Gabriele »

bobp wrote:As I understand it when Air to Air refuelling is required we need the assistance of our US allies.
There is a specific agreement for cooperation with their 100 Air Refueling Wing, which is based in RAF Mildenhall. Unfortunately, they are due to transfer to Germany in the next few years.

Like with C-17 and, if it'll arrive, P-8 Poseidon, a boom is required. So it'll take allied help. French, italian, american, whatever, because putting the boom on Voyager apparently was too smart a thing to do.
You might also know me as Liger30, from that great forum than MP.net was.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

The US tankers will, in the future, take off nearer to where (ever) they will be needed. I wonder if the Strike Eagles will go when the USAF f35s will arrive, re: the on-going restructure?
" removal of 2,000 military personnel from the UK. The most major divestment will be made at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Mildenhall base, which is being shut down. In turn, two squadrons of F-35 Lighting II joint strike fighter jets will move to the RAF Lakenheath facility in 2020. About 3,200 U.S. personnel will relocate from RAF Mildenhall, and that will be offset by the addition of about 1,200 people who will be permanently assigned to the two F-35 squadrons slated to open at RAF Lakenheath."

-slightly aside, but not worth starting a new thread ....or may be it would be "US Forces in Europe" more broadly?
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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by jonas »

Second aircraft to be delivered shortly :-

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defens ... /30228623/

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

jonas wrote:Second aircraft to be delivered shortly :-

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defens ... /30228623/
No prizes for guessing where that'll be headed promptly. :lol:

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by jonas »

downsizer wrote:
jonas wrote:Second aircraft to be delivered shortly :-

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defens ... /30228623/
No prizes for guessing where that'll be headed promptly. :lol:
At least it won't have the bloody awfull delay into service as did the first one. Especially now that Dave thinks 'Spy Planes' are the Bees Knees.


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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by SKB »

Are the RAF too cheap to paint them a matte flat grey all over? The existing paint scheme looks so outdated and too shiny.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by marktigger »

they allegedelly need the white top to aid cooling of the avionics.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by raven111 »

marktigger wrote:they allegedelly need the white top to aid cooling of the avionics.
Can't seem to find anything to back that up.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by bobp »

There was an article in the mail saying that it would cost 3 million to paint the aircraft in RAF colours.
Only the RAFs blue, red and white roundels will be added to the wings and fuselage of the aircraft.

The MoD said repainting the craft would involve a series of expensive trials to check the paint did not cause problems with the planes' computer surveillance equipment.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z3kgQ2Z5dy
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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by Wrekin762 »

Think of it as retro, and that the yanks copied the paint scheme from us anyway

Image

I see to remember RC-135s were silver up until the 1980s

The Nimrod R.1 definitely had a white roof in the ELINT/SIGINT role too

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by marktigger »

raven111 wrote:
marktigger wrote:they allegedelly need the white top to aid cooling of the avionics.
Can't seem to find anything to back that up.

search on google images shows no USAF rivet joints without the white top! I wonder why?

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by raven111 »

marktigger wrote:
raven111 wrote:
marktigger wrote:they allegedelly need the white top to aid cooling of the avionics.
Can't seem to find anything to back that up.

search on google images shows no USAF rivet joints without the white top! I wonder why?
Because that's just how the USAF paints them? The RAF ones just look like they were painted by the USAF then had RAF decals hurriedly thrown on them.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

raven111 wrote:
marktigger wrote:
raven111 wrote:
marktigger wrote:they allegedelly need the white top to aid cooling of the avionics.
Can't seem to find anything to back that up.

search on google images shows no USAF rivet joints without the white top! I wonder why?
Because that's just how the USAF paints them? The RAF ones just look like they were painted by the USAF then had RAF decals hurriedly thrown on them.
So????????


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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by arfah »

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

They were grey long before 2 years to withdrawal.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by bobp »

I can remember when all RAF transport planes were grey/white and I always thought they looked far better than an all over grey or hemp colour. I don't see what the big problem is here the USAF ones are grey/white and as I understand it these planes have rather a lot of electronics stacked onboard and as a result it gets warm in there. We bought into a USAF program and our planes are built to the same standards as theirs including Paint.

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

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Re: RC-135W Airseeker (ex 'Rivet Joint') (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

arfah wrote:
downsizer wrote:They were grey long before 2 years to withdrawal.
Even so, it probably wasn't necessary to repainted them at such a late stage of their service.
What are you classing as "late stage"?

I'm not sure you understand the process of aircraft maintenance. As they enter a Major, they get stripped of paint, so would be painted regardless. The boffins at DSTL and QientiQ (not the RAF) decided that grey was better for flying into theatre at night so thats what happened.

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