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UK aligns Airseeker support agreement with extended out of service date

One of the three RAF Airseeker aircraft operating out of RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. (Crown Copyright)

The United Kingdom has extended its support agreement with the United States for the L3 Technologies RC-135V/W Airseeker (Rivet Joint) to align with the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft's extended out of service date.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 26 October that the support agreement with the US government for three Royal Air Force (RAF) electronic surveillance (ELINT) aircraft had been extended through to 2035, in a deal valued at GBP970 million (USD1.3 billion).

“Airseeker support is provided by the unique venture between the US Air Force [USAF] and the UK MoD – known as the Rivet Joint Cooperative Programme – which was due to expire in 2025, and will now continue until the UK out of service date in 2035,” the MoD said. The extension to the support agreement aligns the change in the Airseeker retirement date from 2025 to 2035 that was made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Operated by 51 Squadron out of RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, the Airseekers replaced the BAE Systems Nimrod R1 ELINT platform. Although sovereign UK aircraft, the Airseeker fleet is managed in service by a joint US/UK team based at L3 Technologies' Greenville site in Texas. Taken together, the UK and US Air Force (USAF) aircraft form a combined fleet of 20 aircraft.

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