Royal Air Force intelligence gathering aircraft joins large-scale US led demonstration exercise in Europe

Image shows an RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft from 51 Squadron, landing at RAF Waddington on return from a Joint Exercise with NATO Allies.

An RAF Waddington-based intelligence gathering aircraft has taken part in a major US-led demonstration exercise in Europe with other European NATO Allies.

An RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft from 51 Squadron, which is part of the RAF’s Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Force, took part in the exercise.  The Rivet Joint aircraft joined other aircraft from the US Air Force, US Navy, and The Royal Netherlands Air Force to conduct two exercise scenarios.

The US-led exercise is designed to test and demonstrate the ability of the US forces and their NATO allies, including the UK, to integrate the command-and-control procedures needed to work together.  The US have designated this exercise as a ‘Joint All-Domain Command and Control Demonstration’ activity, meaning that the activities are aimed at showing that US and NATO Allies are able to integrate Air, Maritime, Land, Cyber and Space activities into a coordinated exercise to rehearse possible future operations.

General Jeff Harrigian, the United States Air Forces in Europe commander, said:

“Conducting a complex and real-world focused Joint All-Domain Command and Control Demonstration allowed our joint and allied team to find areas where we can innovate with systems we already have and also to identify areas where our warfighters need assistance from the Air and Space Forces’ Chief Architect’s Office.”

The exercise is a part of the US National Defence Strategy and demonstrated the ability to bring military assets together from NATO allies into the Baltic Sea to generate firepower inside an area that an adversary believes to be protected through anti-access, area denial technology.  A second element of the exercise demonstrated the ability to, defend infrastructure to allow this force projection.

Group Captain Jim Beldon MBE the Deputy Commander of the RAF’s ISTAR Force said:

“It is very important to be able to integrate an RAF RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft into this exercise, which is aimed at testing and developing the Advanced Battle Management System.  This System will merge information from a variety of sources, which enables commanders to react rapidly and decisively in dynamic operational situations.  

“The RAF’s participation reaffirms the UK’s relationships with the United States Air Force and our NATO Allies.”

This image shows the RC-135W Rivet Joint, ZZ664, landing at RAF Waddington, returning from exercise that started in the early morning.

By Harland Quarrington  – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

Photo credit: Sgt Nicholas Howe RAF


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