Military Aviation

USAF RC-135V Rivet Joint Spy Plane flies over Black Sea amid Naval Clash between Russia and Ukraine

Flight Radar monitors showed the RC-135V has been flying close to the Crimean Peninsula, a Russian territory in the Black Sea

A U.S. Air Force (USAF) Boeing RC-135V Rivet Joint spy plane has reportedly been deployed for a reconnaissance mission amid the naval clash between Russia and Ukraine.

The aircraft is said to be flying over the Black Sea after leaving a U.S. naval base at Souda Bay on Crete at 5.50am on Nov. 26, 2018.

According to the Ukrainian military portal, the RC-135V intelligence aircraft was headed east.

As reported by The Sun, Flight Radar monitors showed the plane has been flying close to the Crimean Peninsula, a Russian territory in the Black Sea.

The news comes after Russia fired on Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea and captured 23 of its sailors sparking fears of war, with the UN and NATO both frantically arranging emergency meetings.

Sunday’s hostilities began when Russia stopped three Ukrainian navy vessels passing beneath a bridge in the hotly contested Kerch Strait.

Two artillery ships and a tug boat were subsequently fired upon and seized – in clashes which left at least six Ukrainian seaman injured.

Russia said its patrol boats seized the vessels and crew after they entered its territorial waters illegally and carried out “provocative actions”.

The incident led to many Western leaders calling for fresh sanctions against Moscow.

Moscow said the alleged breach of Russian waters was “planned” and Russia will “strongly” respond to similar “provocations”.

The U.S. has already revealed it is ready to expand arms supplies to Ukraine to bolster the country’s defence forces in the face of Russian pressure.

As we have recently explained, the RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft supports theater and national level consumers with near real time on-scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.

The aircraft is an extensively modified C-135. The Rivet Joint’s modifications are primarily related to its on-board sensor suite, which allows the mission crew to detect, identify and geolocate signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. The mission crew can then forward gathered information in a variety of formats to a wide range of consumers via Rivet Joint’s extensive communications suite.

The interior seats more than 30 people, including the cockpit crew, electronic warfare officers, intelligence operators and in-flight maintenance technicians.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. RC-135S Cobra Ball 55th Wing, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, 61-2663 – Offutt AFB, NE – 2015

Photo credit: Flight Radar and U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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