Final Airseeker

L3 Technologies announced on September 28 that it has successfully delivered the third and final RC-135V/W Rivet Joint (RJ) signals intelligence aircraft to Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF), a milestone marking the completion of the historic U.S. Air Force (USAF) and U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) Airseeker program.

L3 Successfully Delivers Final Airseeker to U.K. Royal Air Force
L3 Successfully Delivers Final Airseeker to U.K. Royal Air Force

The three U.K. RJ aircraft form the backbone of the U.K.’s Airseeker capability, providing new and collaborative Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) resources in support of global security missions. Upon touchdown at Royal Air Force Waddington, Lincolnshire, U.K., the aircraft was formally transferred to the RAF, completing the hardware deliveries under the Foreign Military Sales contract valued at approximately $1 billion.

Taken together, the U.K. RJ and USAF RJ aircraft form a combined fleet of 20 aircraft, and L3 will perform future baseline upgrades and periodic depot maintenance on the fleet. L3 has also delivered a station to support ground operations and training systems to train both operators and maintainers.

«This groundbreaking agreement gives the U.K. access to future innovative technology and presents a very high level of interoperability with major coalition partners», said Christopher E. Kubasik, L3’s President and Chief Operating Officer. «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», said 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».

Under the agreement, the U.K. purchased three Rivet Joint aircraft for conversion by L3 from KC-135R tankers to the RC-135W configuration. The first two aircraft were delivered in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and upon gaining their airworthiness releases.

«The cooperation between L3, the USAF and the U.K. MOD throughout the Airseeker program has been the key to delivering aircraft early and fielding the capability ahead of the original schedule», said Bill Chrispin, the U.K. MOD’s Airseeker Delivery Manager.

Headquartered in New York City, L3 Technologies employs approximately 38,000 people worldwide and is a leading provider of a broad range of communication, electronic and sensor systems used on military, homeland security and commercial platforms. L3 is also a prime contractor in aerospace systems, security and detection systems, and pilot training. The company reported 2016 sales of $10.5 billion.