RAF Waddington News

RAF surpass 5000 flying hours on the RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft

Three RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft on the airfield.

The Royal Air Force has this week achieved a significant milestone surpassing 5000 flying hours on the RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft.

51 Squadron, based at RAF Waddington, took delivery of the first Rivet Joint aircraft in November 2013, replacing the Nimrod R1 which retired in 2011 after 37 years’ service.  The squadron operates three Rivet Joint aircraft - ZZ664, ZZ665 & ZZ666 - which form part of a wider enterprise between the RAF and the United States Air Force.  This unique partnership has afforded ground and aircrew to train and operate alongside our United States Air Force counterparts, sharing knowledge, skills and experience to help deliver world-leading intelligence around the globe.

RC-135W Rivet Joint on the airfield during sunset.

With the sorties undertaken this week the UK Rivet Joint fleet has now amassed 5,000 flying hours since receipt of the aircraft.  The milestone was marked on the 25th March 2022, with a short ceremony led by RAF Waddington’s Commander Air Wing, Group Captain Melville.  The achievement follows on from the aircraft achieving its highest monthly flying hours output this week, exceeding the previous record (137:25hrs) set in April last year.

RC-135W Rivet Joint in flight through tree twigs.

"Since the Rivet Joint’s arrival at RAF Waddington the aircraft have provided consistent support to British and Allied operations around the world.  It goes without saying that every one of these five-thousand hours could not have been achieved without the professionalism and dedication of our engineering and aircrew personnel as well as the support staff on 51 Squadron, and across the ISTAR force."

Group Captain Melville
RAF Waddington, Commander Air Wing

Nose of RC-135W Rivet Joint on the airfield.

Read more about the RC-135W Rivet Joint.

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