Sunday, January 31, 2016

More Rock amd Roll Adventures from the HFGCS Chronicles

Saturday, the U.S. Navy sent the USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) warship near a disputed island in South China Sea according to various press reports. See CNN story at
Pacific Ocean: The guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) transits through the Pacific Ocean with Mt. Fuji in the background. Curtis Wilbur is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adam K. Thomas/Released)
Any naval operation like this can be a bit dangerous especially if the three parties involved in the disputed land mass get edgy. But there is also a potential treasure trove of intelligence to be gathered.
And what did we have flying around the South China Sea area Saturday using call sign Tora 82 (a 4-digit call I might add)? A USAF RC-135V Rivet Joint aircraft.
And what is this aircraft used for. From the official US Air Force public fact sheet:
Mission The RC-135V/W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft supports theater and national level consumers with near real time on-scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.

Features The aircraft is an extensively modified C-135. The Rivet Joint's modifications are primarily related to its on-board sensor suite, which 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 interior seats more than 30 people, including the cockpit crew, electronic warfare officers, intelligence operators and in-flight maintenance technicians.

The Rivet Joint fleet was re-engined with CFM-56 engines with an upgraded flight deck instrumentation and navigational systems to FAA/ICAO standards. These standards include conversion from analog readouts to a digital "glass cockpit" configuration.

All Rivet Joint airframe and mission systems modifications are overseen by L-3 Communications (previously Raytheon), under the oversight of Air Force Materiel Command.

Background The current RC-135 fleet is the latest iteration of modifications to this pool of -135 aircraft going back to 1962. Initially employed by Strategic Air Command to satisfy nationally tasked intelligence collection requirements, the RC-135 fleet has also participated in every sizable armed conflict involving U.S. assets during its tenure. 

RC-135s were present supporting operations in Vietnam, the Mediterranean for Operation El Dorado Canyon, Grenada for Operation Urgent Fury, Panama for Operation Just Cause, and Southwest Asia for operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. RC-135s have maintained a constant presence in Southwest Asia since the early 1990s.

All RC-135s are assigned to Air Combat Command. The RC-135 is permanently based at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and operated by the 55th Wing, using various forward deployment locations worldwide. More recently, RC-135s have also supported Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, and Operation Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector in Libya
So looks like we had Tora 82 supporting the Curtis Wilbur on Saturday in the South China Sea. Was our Saturday "Santana" Foxtrot/Skyking message directed at Tora 82?
Maybe!  Chief Sends