U.S. Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint Spy Plane Flies Over Caribbean Sea Near Venezuela

A U.S. Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint spy plane conducted a mission in the international airspace over the Caribbean Sea near Venezuela.

Venezuela recently detained two Americans for plotting to topple President Nicolas Maduro’s government. The arrests came a day after the government said it foiled an “invasion” from the sea, killing eight assailants and capturing two others.

Maduro appeared on state television and showed the passports of Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, and said that the pair were members of the U.S. security forces. He accused U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido of bankrolling the plot.

The U.S. government denied any involvement in the coup attempt.

RC-135V/W Rivet Joint

The RC-135V/W Rivet Joint is the U.S. Air Force’s standard airborne Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) platform. The reconnaissance aircraft supports theater and national level consumers with near real-time on-scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.

A U.S. Air Force RC-135V Rivet Joint (64-14846) reconnaissance aircraft assigned to the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron. USAF Photo.

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.

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

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