First RAF Rivet Joint Completes Major Upgrade

Above: RAF/51 Squadron RC-135W Rivet Joint ZZ664 taking off from its base at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, on May 23, 2014.  The aircraft has just completed a major upgrade in the USA.  MOD Crown Copyright/Sgt Si Pugsley

A MAJOR upgrade of Royal Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint ZZ664 has been completed by L3 Technologies in the USA.  After completion of the 18-month modernisation work, the aircraft re-flew for the first time from the company’s facility in Greenville, Texas, on May 10.

Precise details of the upgrade have not been revealed, but Air Vice Marshal Harv Smith, AOC 1 Group, said in a Tweet on May 11 that the work involved incorporation of a state-of-the-art flight deck and cutting-edge mission systems.  After flight testing of the new systems, the aircraft is scheduled to be re-delivered to 51 Squadron at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, later this year.

It is reported to be the first of the combined RAF/USAF Rivet Joint fleet to have undergone this new upgrade.  It is not immediately clear when the remaining two aircraft in the RAF inventory will be similarly upgraded.