Tuesday, July 12, 2011

UK Advances Rivet Joint Aircraft Acquisition

The British Ministry of Defence has signed a $1 billion support and update deal with the U.S. government regarding three RC-135W Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft.

[A spokeswoman for the MoD said that "The chief of defense materiel signed the MoU on June 23; his U.S. counterpart signed on June 6. The MoU establishes a cooperative agreement through to 2025 for the support of the U.K.'s Rivet Joint system. Valued at nearly $1 billion, the MoU enables the U.K. to access spares to support its in-service equipment, provides U.S. contractor assistance in-country and on deployment, and covers deep maintenance of the aircraft fleet that includes capability updates every four years."]

The program to replace the Royal Air Force's retired Nimrod R.1 ground-surveillance, electronic intelligence (ELINT)-gathering aircraft has been dubbed Project Helix by the British MoD.

The aircraft were purchased by Britain through the U.S. Pentagon's government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Rivet Joint contract involves the remanufacture by L-3 Communications of three retired KC-135 airframes to the RC-135W standard.

The first of these aircraft - dubbed Airseeker in British service - will be delivered to the Royal Air Force in 2014.

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