The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has received the third and final RC-135V/W Rivet Joint (RJ) signals intelligence aircraft from L3 Technologies.

The delivery marks the completion of the US Air Force (USAF) and the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) Airseeker programme.

L3 Aerospace Systems business segment president Mark Von Schwarz said: “Analysts have hailed this UK/US programme as the highest level of intelligence cooperation between the two countries since World War II.

“The US and the UK will be closely involved in future maturation of the Rivet Joint weapon system for at least the next 25 years.”

The RJ aircraft is capable of providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support for global security missions.

Under a Foreign Military Sales contract worth around $1bn, the UK purchased a total of three RJ aircraft for conversion by L3, including KC-135R tankers and the RC-135W configuration.

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L3 president and chief operating officer Christopher E Kubasik said: “This groundbreaking agreement gives the UK access to future innovative technology and presents a very high level of interoperability with major coalition partners.

“This partnership has provided our UK allies with an intelligence-gathering platform that supports near real-time on-scene collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.”

“The US and the UK will be closely involved in future maturation of the Rivet Joint weapon system for at least the next 25 years.”

L3 delivered the first two aircraft in 2013 and 2015, respectively, upon gaining their airworthiness releases.

The UK and the US have a combined fleet of 20 RJ aircraft.

L3 will also perform future baseline upgrades and periodic depot maintenance for the fleet.

The company also delivered a station to support ground operations and training systems to train both operators and maintainers.

Image: The British RAF’s second RJ aircraft was delivered in 2015. Photo: courtesy of MOD Crown.