British plane tracks down Russian forces in occupied Ukraine

A British RC-135 “Rivet Joint”, a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft, once again carries out surveillance of Russian forces in occupied Ukraine.

Great Britain conducted these flights to gather intelligence on Russian forces in the area.

The RC-135W Rivet Joint and its sensors are designed to undertake “signal intelligence” missions. In other words, they “absorb” electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems.

This is by no means the first such deployment, it has been going on for months now, but activity has increased recently due to the Russian invasion. The UK has increased the frequency of such flights in recent months to gather intelligence. American planes are also present.

As we have to post this every time, here is the usual disclaimer. It’s not new. In fact, it’s quite routine. The UK has a long history of collecting intelligence on Russian forces long before the invasion of Ukraine, and it should be noted that these thefts are designed to be visible so the public and Russia know they are happening. If it was a secret, I wouldn’t know. Also, for those who notice ‘it’s not new’it’s true, but people know it happens a lot because it gets reported a lot.

The presence of British surveillance planes over the area is not unusual, but we are seeing a significant increase in the frequency of flights over the past few months for obvious reasons.

What does the RC-135W do?

According to the Royal Air Force website, the RC-135W Rivet Joint is a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft that can be used in all theaters of operations for strategic and tactical missions. Its sensors “absorb” electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems.

“The RC-135W Rivet Joint employs multi-disciplinary Weapons System Officers (WSOs) and Weapons System Operators (WSOps) whose mission is to study elements of the electromagnetic spectrum in order to derive information for commanders.”

The Royal Air Force says Rivet Joint has been widely deployed for Operation Shader and other operational duties. It had been officially named the Airseeker, but is almost universally known in service as the RC-135W Rivet Joint.

The UK operates three of these aircraft.

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