Military Aviation

USAF to relocate RC-135 Rivet Joint spy planes to RAF Fairford

The USAF has started to prepare for the closure of RAF Mildenhall with about 530 USAF personnel and 740 dependants being relocated to RAF Fairford

The U.S. Air Force’s 95th Reconnaissance Squadron (RS) and 488th Intelligence Squadron (IS) will relocate its RC-135 Rivet Joint mission from RAF Mildenhall to RAF Fairford as part of the European Infrastructure Consolidation.

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) in fact has started to prepare for the closure of RAF Mildenhall with about 530 USAF personnel and 740 dependants being relocated to RAF Fairford. According to the service News Release, the relocation enables U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa to reduce excess capacity without any loss of operational capabilities.

The decision to shutter RAF Mildenhall was made in 2015. The move is expected to begin in 2023 and be complete by 2024.

All RC-135s are permanently assigned to the 55th Wing, Air Combat Command, Offutt Air Force Base (AFB), Nebraska. They will use RAF Fairford as a Forward Operating Location and will deploy as required from the U.S. as they currently do at RAF Mildenhall. The 95th RS and 488th IS provide intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.

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 AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. RC-135S Cobra Ball 55th Wing, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, 61-2663 – Offutt AFB, NE – 2015

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

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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