Leaked Image Shows First RAF Rivet Joint


An image leaked on the internet shows what appears to be the first RC-135 Rivet Joint destined for the U.K. Royal Air Force.

The RAF has three RC-135s on order, making the U.K. the first export customer for the RC-135V/W Sigint jets. The aircraft have been converted from a trio of 1964-vintage Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.

The three aircraft were ordered by the Ministry of Defence in March 2010 and the first aircraft is expected to roll out early next year. Once in service, the aircraft will be operated by No. 51 Sqn which famously operated the Nimrod R1, an aircraft which for many years the RAF refused to disclose as being in operation because of the type’s intelligence gathering capabilities. In preparation for the Rivet Joint’s arrival, 51 Sqn crews have been flying missions with the 55th Wing to gain experience on the type. It is understood that the aircraft will be christened Airseeker in RAF service.

Sharp-eyed readers of this blog will notice the aircraft distinctly lacks an air-to-air refuelling probe and given the RAF has not ordered a boom for its Voyager tankers, the new Airseekers will end up being dependent on USAF or tankers from other nations for refuelling.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week's defense blog

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.


Sep 18, 2015

The U.S.-Russian Moon Landing That Never Happened (1963) 7

U.S. President John F. Kennedy is well known for the 1961 speech to Congress in which he made the Apollo program a national goal. Less remembered is his controversial offer two years later to cooperate with the Soviet Union on a manned lunar landing....More
Sep 10, 2015

Airbus A380 Is Your Hotel In The Sky (2001) 5

In a September 2001 advertisement, Airbus promised to bring glamour back to passenger travel with its new A380, comparing the double-decker airliner to a hotel....More
Sep 9, 2015

Pratt & Whitney's Record Behind the DC-6 Record (1947) 2

Pratt & Whitney takes to the cover of AVIATION to credit its Double Wasp engines for the DC-6's record transatlantic flight....More
Aug 27, 2015

Aviation Week Lifts Veil On Boeing B-52 Bomber (1952) 22

In 1952, Aviation Week provided the first details on the new Boeing B-52 bomber....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×