The US Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defense have signed an agreement under which the US Air Force (USAF) will train the initial cadre of Royal Air Force (RAF) aircrews on the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft.

The agreement allows the RAF to purchase three RC-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft over the next seven years.

The first group of RAF aircrew members, scheduled to arrive in the US on 11 January, will include pilots, navigators, electronic warfare officers and a host of intelligence operators and airborne maintenance technicians from 51 Squadron at RAF Waddington.

On completion of the training, the RAF crews will be allowed to fly on US Rivet Joint aircraft, called co-manning, until the UK’s RC-135 fleet reaches full operational capability, and the crews will be attached to the 55th Wing’s 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron before returning to the UK.