A British RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft performed a patrol in the Black Sea while being escorted by two Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. This mission was visible on the different sites tracking the aircraft. The operation also included a KC.Mk2 Voyage tanker to refuel the two fighters.
This March 24, a Royal Air Force (RAF) RC-135W Rivet Joint electronic reconnaissance aircraft could be seen on the various live tracking sites. This aircraft was on a mission over Romania. At the same time, a tanker from Cyprus was also flying a mission over southwest Romania. It allowed the RAF to keep two Eurofighter Typhoon fighters in the air, also deployed from Cyprus.
In the early afternoon, the Rivet Joint left Romanian airspace and headed for the Black Sea, followed very closely by the two fighters. It is quite rare to see fighter aircraft escorting aircraft in this area. Their presence follows two events with Russian fighter jets:
- The tension in the area following the collision between a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone and a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet (article on the subject)
- The firing of an air-to-air missile by a Russian Su-27 into the vicinity of a British RC-135W then over the Black Sea (article on the subject)
The mission was also dangerous because the trail over the Black Sea confirms that the information gathered was from Russian forces in Crimea. The Russians are trying to avoid any intelligence gathering because these are used by the holders of the reconnaissance aircraft, the NATO member countries but also the Ukrainians. The latter have intelligence acquired by the states supporting Ukraine, including intelligence from reconnaissance aircraft.
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