Britain has agreed an extension of its agreement with the United States to support its three Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft.
The agreement was due to expire in 2025, but with the extension it will now run until 2035, the UK out of service date, the Royal Air Force announced on October 26, 2021.
The support is provided by the United States Air Force and the UK Ministry of Defence under a venture known as the Rivet Joint Cooperative Programme. It covers maintenance, spare parts, engineering support, technical data and access to capability updates.
The UK Ministry of Defence will invest £970 million ($1.3 billion) over the next 14 years. The extension will secure 25 jobs.
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said the Rivet Joint Cooperative Programme was a “fantastic example” of the UK/US special relationship. “With a commitment to invest almost £1 billion, this agreement will ensure that we, and our allies, can benefit from the aircraft’s impressive surveillance capability for years to come,” Quin commented in the press release.
The RC-135W Rivet Joint, also known as Airseeker, is a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft that deploys in all theaters on strategic and tactical missions, including in the Middle East on counter-Daesh missions. The aircraft works by using sensors to detect, identify and geolocate signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum.
The Rivet Joint Aircraft are based at RAF Waddington by 51 Squadron and are part of the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force.