Britain's RAF receives intelligence aircraft

Sept. 29 (UPI) — The third and final R-135V/W signals intelligence aircraft has been delivered to Britain’s Royal Air Force by L3 Technologies.

The delivery on Thursday marks the completion of hardware deliveries of the Airseeker program of the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force.

“This groundbreaking agreement gives the U.K. access to future innovative technology and presents a very high level of interoperability with major coalition partners,” Christopher E. Kubasik, L3’s President and Chief Operating Officer, said in a press release. “This partnership has provided our U.K. allies with an intelligence-gathering platform that supports near-real-time on-scene collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.”

“Analysts have hailed this U.K./U.S. program as the highest level of intelligence cooperation between the two countries since World War II,” added Mark Von Schwarz, L3’s senior vice president and president of its Aerospace Systems business segment. “The U.S. and the U.K. will be closely involved in future maturation of the Rivet Joint weapon system for at least the next 25 years.”

L3 said the three R-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft will provide the RAF with collaborative intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Britain and the U.S. have a combined fleet of 20 Rivet Joint aircraft. L3 will perform future baseline upgrades and periodic depot maintenance on the aircraft.

The Rivet Joint aircraft were KC-135R tankers converted by L3 to the RC-135W configuration. The first two aircraft were delivered to Britain in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

L3 also delivered to Britain a station to support ground operations and training systems for the aircraft.

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