Boeing RC-135V Rivet Joint (739-445B) Aircraft Data
Photo ID 231907 by Rainer Mueller. USA Air Force Boeing RC 135V Rivet Joint 739 445B, 64 14846
The RC-135V is the USAF's standard airborne SIGINT platform. Missions flown by the RC-135s are designated either Burning Wind or Misty Wind. Its sensor suite allows the mission crew to detect, identify and geolocate signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. The mission crew can then forward gathered information in a variety of formats to a wide range of consumers via Rivet Joint's extensive communications suite. The crew consists of the cockpit crew, electronic warfare officers, intelligence operators, and airborne systems maintenance personnel. All Rivet Joint airframe and mission systems modifications are performed by L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas, under the oversight of the Air Force Materiel Command.

All RC-135s are assigned to Air Combat Command. The RC-135 is permanently based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and operated by the 55th Wing, using various forward deployment locations worldwide.

Under the "BIG SAFARI" program name, RC-135Vs were upgraded from the RC-135C "Big Team" configuration. RC-135Ws were originally delivered as C-135B transports, and most were modified from RC-135Ms. This is the only difference between the V and W variants; both carry the same mission equipment. For many years, the RC-135V could be identified by the four large disc-capped MUSSELS antennas forward, four somewhat smaller blade antennae aft and a myriad of smaller underside antennas. Baseline 8 Rivet Joints (in the 2000s) introduced the first major change to the external RC-135V configuration replacing the MUSSELS antennas with plain blade antennas. The configuration of smaller underside antennas was also changed significantly.
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • First Flight: 1962
  • Initial Service Date: 1964
  • No. Built: 17
  • No. In Service: 17
  • No. of Hardpoints: 0
  • Crew: 5


Four CFM International F108-CF-201 high bypass turbofan engines at 21,600 lbf


RC-135W Rivet Joint employs multidiscipline Weapons System Officer (WSO) and Weapons System Operator (WSOp) specialists whose mission is to survey elements of the electromagnetic spectrum in order to derive intelligence for commanders.


Length: 135ft 0 in.
Wing Span: 131 feet 0 in.
Wing Area: 2,433 sq.ft
Height: 42ft 0 in.
Empty Weight: 175,000 lbs
Max. Weight: 297,000 lbs
Internal Fuel: 130,000 lbs


Max. Speed: 540 mph
Service Ceiling: 50,000 ft.
Normal Range: 3,450 nm
Max. Range: 3,900 nm


United States, United Kingdom

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