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    Quarter century: Rivet Joint celebrates silver anniversary being ‘On the Hunt’

    Quarter century: Rivet Joint celebrates silver anniversary being ‘On the Hunt’

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Rasheen A. Douglas | Members from the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron exit an RC-135 Rivet...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

    AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar - Airmen from the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here reached a historic milestone Aug. 8 as their airframe, the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint, celebrated 25 years of continuous service in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.

    “For the Rivet Joint program and the mission, 25-years continuous service is a significant milestone to recognize,” the 763rd ERS commander said. “I am extremely proud to lead a squadron that has remained strategically and tactically relevant for the past 25 years.”

    Twenty-five years ago, Americans were tied to their televisions as then President George Bush announced the U.S. was going to war. New terms like “SCUD” and “Patriot” missiles became common, everyday terms. It was Aug. 2, 1990 when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. Six days later on Aug. 8, an RC-135 aircraft flew the first sortie over the AOR from Greece, landing Aug. 9 at Riyadh Air Base, Saudi Arabia.

    Crews in those early days had to develop new operating procedures ‘on the fly,’ a Rivet Joint contractor explained. “Agreements among our sister-platforms like the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system, or AWACS, and us were conducted in various hotel rooms before the first secure intelligence facility was built on a soccer pitch in Riyadh,” he said.

    The RJ contractor recalled his time flying as an Airborne Cryptologic Operator from 1990-2012. SCUD missiles and chemical weapons were a real concern then, and it was not uncommon for air raid sirens to sound at all times of night. Crews would grab their masks and helmets and head to bunkers to watch as the deafening Patriot battery on the flightline launched its missiles.

    “No one would have thought 25 years ago we would still have Airmen supporting operations here,” he said. “Operating locations and airframe capabilities have changed tremendously; however, the fast-paced mission, constant deployments and mission execution has remained the same.”

    Today, 22 Airmen were onboard as their workhorse completed her anniversary flight. The crew of a typical RJ mission is comprised of pilots, navigators, electronic warfare officers, airborne cryptologic operators, airborne system engineers and special signals operators. Their mission today was to direct intelligence collection and analysis in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. OFS is the latest of eight named operations in theater the Rivet Joint has supported in her 25 years.

    “Essentially, we have been a nation at war since the Rivet Joint first began patrolling the skies. Over that quarter-century, the capability provided has evolved to play a critical role in a number of AORs,” the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing commander said. “It’s impressive than an Eisenhower-era airframe continues to contribute at such a significant level.”

    “The Rivet Joint is truly a national asset, providing effects with many more years to come,” he said. “Fighting without our ISR assets would be like living without one of our senses. I am humbled and proud to serve alongside the professionals of the 379th AEW and the 763rd ERS.”

    Many crews today have never known a time in their life without a Rivet Joint supporting operations in the AOR.

    “Twenty-five years ago, I was starting kindergarten,” today’s aircraft commander and U.S. Air Force pilot explained. “I would have never thought at that point I would be in the Air Force, let alone in command of the aircraft flying her 25th, silver anniversary, sortie.”

    Just over four years since his first flight in the AOR, he said of today’s occasion: “The ability for the RC-135 to be used in different conflicts and remain relevant speaks volumes to the adaptability and need for the Rivet Joint.”

    The Rivet Joint is a signals intelligence platform that supports U.S. and coalition partners by providing, critical, near real-time intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination of information to both air and ground assets, as well as national intelligence agencies. Crews monitor enemy activity with sophisticated intelligence-gathering equipment, and through constant collection system upgrades the RJ offers quick, adaptable employment to any theater.

    Some aircraft missions are well-known, while others like the RC-135 are successful because they aren’t. In the case of the Rivet Joint and her aircrews, being out-of-sight and out-of-mind often means mission accomplished.

    “Most people outside of the community have next to no idea what we do, and that’s the way we like to keep it,” today’s airborne mission supervisor explained. “My job is to ensure each and every crewmember knows what their efforts bring to the fight, and they know that no matter what, every piece of intelligence we produce is valuable to someone.”

    Each crew member from nose-to-tail is highly trained, each requiring an average of three-years of qualification courses and instruction before they are ready to fly against any threat, any time, anywhere in the world, the AMS said.

    “When I think about 25 years of sustained presence in the AOR, what stands out most are the Airmen,” he explained. “I think about the people who filled the same seemingly endless deployment lines, of the cancelled vacations and missed holidays. Through all of that, I think of the professionalism, dedication and camaraderie exhibited by every member of this family.”

    “No matter what, we know we are here to do a job, an important one, and we will remain on the hunt to get the job done.”



    Date Taken: 07.31.2015
    Date Posted: 07.31.2015 05:58
    Story ID: 171703
    Location: AL UDEID AIR BASE, QA

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