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23 octobre 2014 4 23 /10 /octobre /2014 16:30
Surveillance missions over Syria confirmed

 

21 October 2014 Ministry of Defence

 

The Defence Secretary has announced that UK Reaper and Rivet Joint aircraft will fly surveillance missions over Syria.

 

UK Reaper remotely piloted aircraft systems and Rivet Joint aircraft will be authorised to fly surveillance missions over Syria.

The deployment will see the Royal Air Force aircraft gathering intelligence as the UK ramps up efforts to protect our national interests from the terrorist threat emanating the country.

Reapers are not authorised to use weapons in Syria and, alongside Rivet Joint, will provide vital situational awareness making it an invaluable asset to the coalition allies who are combating ISIL.

For more information see ISIL: UK government response page on GOV.UK

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27 mai 2014 2 27 /05 /mai /2014 12:50
RAF's new surveillance aircraft takes to the skies

A Rivet Joint RC-135W aircraft at RAF Waddington [Picture: Sergeant Si Pugsley RAF, Crown copyright]

 

27 May 2014 Ministry of Defence and Defence Equipment and Support

 

A Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft has been flown in UK airspace by an RAF aircrew for the first time.

 

Pictures released by MOD show a UK Rivet Joint RC-135W signals intelligence aircraft taking off from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. The aircraft is one of 3 that MOD is buying from the US which, as part of the Airseeker programme, will provide the UK with a world class real-time signals intelligence and surveillance capability for forces in the air and on the ground.

The aircraft not only gathers data and vital intelligence using advanced sensor technology, but it is also able to carry out onboard analysis and distribute the information to be exploited by assets on the ground via its high-tech communications suite.

Since 2011, members of the RAF’s 51 Squadron have been operating United States Air Force Rivet Joint aircraft and ground stations to familiarise themselves with the aircraft and its capability.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

These highly specialised aircraft and their supporting ground systems, bought off-the-shelf, provide Britain with a first-class intelligence-gathering capability that is value for money and another key part of our ability to interoperate with the US.

Having jointly operated US aircraft with British and American personnel for 3 years, this proven strategic intelligence and surveillance capability will be an excellent addition to the RAF’s fleet.

A Rivet Joint RC-135W aircraft in flight over RAF Waddington
A Rivet Joint RC-135W aircraft in flight over RAF Waddington [Picture: Sergeant Si Pugsley RAF, Crown copyright]

The 3 aircraft, converted by L-3IS in Greenville, Texas, from a Boeing KC-135 tanker, have been bought directly from the US government at a cost of around £650 million.

The MOD’s Chief of Materiel (Air), Air Marshal Simon Bollom, who oversaw the procurement of the aircraft, said:

The first flight of the UK’s Rivet Joint RC-135W aircraft, as part of the Airseeker programme with an RAF crew, is a proud moment for all in the Defence Equipment and Support team who have worked, and continue to work, so hard to deliver this outstanding capability to the front line.

We have procured an aircraft with a proven track record which has been successfully operated by the United States Air Force, with RAF crews under co-manning arrangements, for a number of years.

We have worked very closely with our colleagues in the US on this project and today’s first flight signifies the commencement of a new and potent air ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) capability in the RAF inventory.

Airseeker

The Airseeker capability, comprising all 3 UK Rivet Joint RC-135W aircraft and ground exploitation systems, operated by their highly skilled aircrews, ground crews and analysts, is due to be fully operational by mid-2017.

Airseeker joins the RAF’s ISTAR Force, which includes Sentry, Shadow, Sentinel and Reaper as well as the reconnaissance capabilities of our fighter aircraft.

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25 novembre 2013 1 25 /11 /novembre /2013 17:50
Une triplette d’espions américains au service de sa Majesté

 

22 novembre 2013 Aerobuzz.fr

 

Deux ans après avoir mis au rencard ses vénérables quadrimoteurs « Nimrod R1 » spécialisés dans le renseignement aéroporté, Londres met en service son premier avion espion « RC 135 Rivet joint ». Un avion au nom aussi énigmatique que ses missions, et qui a le mauvais gout d’être de conception 100% américaine. Shocking or not shocking ? Telle est la question. !

 

N’en déplaise à Mr Snowden, grand pourfendeur des Big Brother en tous genres, le business du renseignement se porte plutôt bien. Dernier épisode en date, l’arrivée le 12 novembre dernier sur la base anglaise de Waddington du premier des trois RC-135 commandés par sa très gracieuse majesté au terme d’un contrat de 1 Md$ au moins désigné « Airseeker » .

 

Cet appareil fraichement arrivé dans la Royal Air force n’est pourtant pas vraiment de première jeunesse. C’est un lointain dérivé du ravitailleur KC-135, lui même dérivé du Boeing 707… en 1964 ! Mais ne vous y trompez pas, malgré son âge supérieur à celui de votre serviteur, la cellule, la voilure et les moteurs ont totalement été revisités aux USA pour donner à ce joyeux papy des airs, trente années supplémentaires de service au moins !

 

Extérieurement l’appareil se différencie d’un ravitailleur KC-135 par ses nombreuses antennes, ses « joues » sur les côtés du fuselage et son nez allongé façon Pinocchio.

Apparue à la fin des années 60 aux USA, la famille des avions de renseignement « Rivet joint » était initialement destinée à surveiller les forces armées de l’union soviétique et de ses pays satellites. Ses missions d’espionnage classées « Top Secret », de 10 et 20 heures, étaient poliment appelées SIGINT « Signal Intelligence ». Ennuyeuses parfois, passionnantes souvent et généralement dangereuses, elles sont toujours payantes au bout du compte ! La preuve ? Depuis la fin de la guerre froide, les USA n’ont cessé de moderniser leurs 14 appareils de ce type au gré des évolutions des systèmes électroniques et des systèmes d’arme.

 

Dans un monde multipolaire plein d’incertitudes, l’information est la clé du pouvoir ou de la survie. Il s’agit donc de connaître, par exemple, l’état de préparation des forces du pays surveillé, la structure de ses réseaux de commandement, les fréquences de ses moyens de défense, ou encore les types de matériels en service. Les espions ont un jargon pour cela : ils parlent de reconstitution de l’ordre de bataille électronique. Avec ces données, les stratèges peuvent notamment déterminer les failles dans les systèmes de défense adverses ou encore mettre au point des contremesures efficaces pour leurs avions de combat. Des données stratégiques indispensables pour tout chef militaire qui se respecte.

 

Pour ce faire, le RC 135 est bourré de récepteurs en tous genres pour intercepter, démoduler, localiser, analyser et enregistrer les signaux radio et radar à 400 KM aux alentours. Il dispose de deux antennes HF (10KHz-30MHZ), une filaire de plusieurs centaines de mètres qu’il déploie pendant son vol, et une fixe sur la dérive. A cela s’ajoutent des antennes V/UHF tout le long du fuselage au dessus et en dessous, ainsi qu’une antenne satellite près de la base de la dérive. Les joues abritent des antennes et des récepteurs ELINT spécialisés dans le traitement des signaux radars. Ainsi équipé l’appareil peut écouter tous les signaux entre 0 et 40 GHZ. En clair et sans décodeur : oui ! Même votre téléphone portable ne peut échapper aux grandes oreilles du RC-135 !

 

A bord de l’appareil en plus des pilotes, se trouve une quinzaine d’opérateurs aux fonctions variées, attablés derrière leurs consoles multifonctions. Certains gèrent le système, mais la grande majorité est composée d’opérateurs linguistes, chargés d’écouter et de traduire les conversations dans plusieurs langues alors que d’autres sont des « pros » des signaux radars. Pour compléter la distribution, un ou deux analystes consolident les données collectées et dressent ainsi le tableau des forces en présence. Véritables atouts dans la manche des militaires, ces avions sont plus souples d’emploi que les satellites et plus performants que les drones. Ils peuvent détecter les menaces les mieux dissimulées et alerter en temps réel les avions radar Awacs ou les forces alliées présentes dans le secteur.

 

Est-t-il utile de préciser qu’à ce prix (1Md$ pour trois avions), Boeing a installé des toilettes et une cuisine équipée ? En revanche aucune hôtesse n’est prévue dans le service. Avec cette commande, la RAF dispose des mêmes avions espions que l’oncle Sam. Mieux : les avions de la Royal Air Force seront remis à niveau tous les deux ans avec les moyens les plus modernes pour garantir leur crédibilité technique. Pendant ce temps, les équipages anglais seront formés aux côtés de leurs homologues américains issus de la NSA et de l’US Air Force. On se dirige là vers une parfaite interopérabilité en matière de renseignement. Mais à quel prix ? Londres, qui est membre du réseau d’espionnage américain mondial Echelon, dénoncé par Mr Snowden, renonce de fait à son indépendance en matière de développement de moyens de renseignement nationaux au profit d’une énième dépendance technique et militaire envers Washington.

 

Quant à la France, elle ne dispose plus de cette capacité de renseignement stratégique depuis le retrait du bon vieux DC8 Sarigue et du fiasco lié à son remplacement. La France compte sur deux vénérables Transall Gabriel et son bon vieux système D. Mais jusqu’à quand cela suffira t-il ?

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21 novembre 2013 4 21 /11 /novembre /2013 08:50
USAF Comments Rivet Joint Delivery to UK

November 19, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: US Air Force; issued Nov. 19, 2013)

 

First Rivet Joint Delivered to the Royal Air Force

 

RAF WADDINGTON, England --- The first of three RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft was officially delivered to the U.K. during a special ceremony at Royal Air Force Waddington, England, Nov. 12.

 

The historic occasion is the culmination of a 2010 agreement between the Department of Defense and the U.K. Ministry of Defense for the RAF to purchase three RJs.

 

This first aircraft is scheduled to enter service with the 51st Squadron after it reaches full operational capability in late 2014.

 

"This is a fantastic day for 51st Squadron and marks the start of a new era in our long and illustrious history," said RAF Wing Commander Tom Talbot, the 51st Squadron commander.

 

As the sole provider of Rivet Joint initial qualification training, the 55th Wing has trained more than 140 aircrew and ground maintenance personnel from the RAF since the programs initiation in 2010.

 

"Following three years of training and preparation with our U.S. Air Force brethren, the Rivet Joint brings with it a step change in airborne signals intelligence capability for the U.K.," Talbot said.

 

Upon graduation, RAF aircrews are allowed to fly on U.S. Rivet Joints as part of a co-manning agreement. They flew their first operational mission June 21, 2011, and since then RAF crews have flown more than more than 1,800 sorties and achieved in excess of 32,000 flying hours with the 55th Wing.

 

"Everyone is aware of the special relationship our two countries have and it's been an absolute honor for the wing to have RAF Airmen here training with us," said Col. Gregory Guillot, the 55th Wing commander. "The end result is an increase in our ISR capabilities and we are looking forward to continuing this relationship for years to come."

 

Known as project AIRSEEKER, the U.K.'s procurement of three Rivet Joints will provide the U.K. with world class airborne signals intelligence capability. Once in service, the aircraft will provide real time on-scene intelligence, collection, surveillance and analysis to coalition forces in the air and on the ground.

 

"I am delighted that the first RJ aircraft has been delivered to the U.K., an important milestone in the procurement pathway for the future AIRSEEKER signals intelligence capability for U.K. Defence," said RAF Air Vice-Marshal Peter Ewen, the director air support at Defence Equipment & Support, who are responsible for the procurement of the aircraft.

 

"A testament to the ongoing and highly effective U.K. and U.S. co-operation in the procurement program, support and RAF aircrew training, this first of three aircraft, will form a vital component of the nation's future ISTAR capabilities," he added.

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13 novembre 2013 3 13 /11 /novembre /2013 08:50
First Rivet Joint aircraft delivered to the UK

Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft arrives at RAF Waddington [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Blake Carruthers, Crown copyright]

 

12 November 2013 Ministry of Defence and Defence Equipment and Support

 

The first of 3 Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft has been delivered to MOD ahead of its entry into service with the RAF in 2014.


 

The aircraft will form part of project Airseeker, which will provide the UK with a world class capability able to provide real-time on-scene intelligence, surveillance and analysis for forces in the air and on the ground.

The Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint system has a proven track record, having been used by the United States Air Force (USAF) for many years. Since 2011, the RAF’s 51 Squadron have been training and operating alongside their USAF colleagues in preparation for the UK aircraft entering service in late 2014.

UK crews have already achieved in excess of 32,000 flying hours and 1,800 sorties as part of the US 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

MOD has purchased 3 aircraft from the US which will each be configured to support UK operations. The first aircraft has successfully completed its flight trials in Greenville, Texas, ahead of schedule, allowing it to be delivered to the UK early.

Air Vice-Marshal Peter Ewen, Director Air Support at Defence Equipment and Support, who are responsible for the procurement of Rivet Joint, said:

I am delighted that the first Rivet Joint aircraft has been delivered to the UK, an important milestone in the procurement pathway for the future Airseeker signals intelligence capability for UK Defence.

A testament to the ongoing and highly effective UK/US co-operation in the procurement programme, support and RAF aircrew training, this first of 3 aircraft will form a vital component of the nation’s future ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) capabilities.

Air Vice-Marshal Phil Osborn, Director of Capability at Joint Forces Command, said:

I know that the RAF and Defence are looking forward to operating this key capability and building on the unique history of 51 Squadron.

We plan to have our Airseeker programme – comprising all 3 Rivet Joint aircraft with their highly skilled aircrew, ground crew and analysts – fully operational by mid-2017.

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25 septembre 2013 3 25 /09 /septembre /2013 11:50
UK MoD Responds to River Joint Paint Furore

September 24, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Sept. 23, 2013)

 

Rivet Joint Aircraft

 

The Sunday Times reported that the RAF's new Rivet Joint 'spy planes' will be painted in US Air Force colours as part of a money-saving scheme MOD has agreed with the US. The paper also flags up concerns about the UK's 'reliance' on the US for such 'a sensitive capability'.

 

Rivet Joint provides the UK with a greatly advanced capability and it is nonsense to suggest that in joining with the US on this capability and adhering to a common standard the UK will be at a disadvantage. In fact, this close co-operation enhances our shared intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capability.

 

MOD decided to configure our Rivet Joint aircraft to as close a common standard with the US Air Force as is possible; this has significant support cost benefits through the life of the aircraft.

 

Major servicing will be conducted in the US at a facility that has the appropriate protection to handle the security classification of the aircraft. Day-to-day maintenance will be done by RAF personnel in the UK supported by contractors provided as part of the US/UK cooperative agreement.

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