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Agile Spartan 23.2: RJ’s stay on watch

31 August 2023

From Senior Airman Leon Redfern

Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, provided operational and logistical support to the crew of a U.S. Air Force Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, Aug. 18-23, 2023, as the unit participated in Operation Agile Spartan.
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY SOUDA BAY, Greece (Aug. 28, 2023) 

Editor's Note:  Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, provided operational and logistical support to the crew of a U.S. Air Force Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, Aug. 18-23, 2023, as the unit participated in Operation Agile Spartan.

“At Souda Bay, we truly sit at the overlap of the U.S. European, U.S. Africa and U.S. Central Commands’  areas of responsibility,” said Lt. Jared Goulette, operations officer, NSA Souda Bay. “We’re able to capitalize on our strategic location by providing the Joint force with the operational support they need to project the full might of the U.S. military across these critical geographic areas.”

During the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron’s forward deployment to Greece, NSA Souda Bay supported the unit by providing jet fuel and air operations support to the RC-135 Rivet Joint and crew. NSA Souda Bay also provided the lodging for the crew of more than 60 personnel.


In a dynamic display of agility and combat effectiveness, the U.S. Air Force Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, recently showcased its indispensable role during Operation Agile Spartan, Aug. 18-23, 2023.

Service member standing on the flight line at night with an aircraft in the background
A U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, taxis on the flight line during Operation Agile Spartan at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2023. The large-scale exercise reinforced the U.S. commitment to its regional partners across the Middle East through developing and maintaining missions in unpredictable ways, rapidly responding to the needs of joint and coalition commanders. The month-long, multinational operation demonstrated interoperability between regional partners, improved response capabilities, and further enhanced security throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leon Redfern)
Service member standing on the flight line at night with an aircraft in the background
Agile Spartan 23.2: RJ’s stay on watch
A U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, taxis on the flight line during Operation Agile Spartan at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2023. The large-scale exercise reinforced the U.S. commitment to its regional partners across the Middle East through developing and maintaining missions in unpredictable ways, rapidly responding to the needs of joint and coalition commanders. The month-long, multinational operation demonstrated interoperability between regional partners, improved response capabilities, and further enhanced security throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leon Redfern)
Photo By: Senior Airman Leon Redfern
VIRIN: 230820-F-MI946-1234

Commonly referred to as the RJ, the RC-135 Rivet Joint deployed from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is a high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft. The RJ forward deployed to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, to exercise their ability to generate combat missions in various locations in and out of U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. This capability to operate with coalition partners maintains interoperability, strengthening U.S. force posture.

“As regional and global adversaries become more unpredictable, the ability to rapidly and adaptably deploy to atypical or dispersed locations, becomes essential to regional stability,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jonathan Ruiz, 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron detachment commander.

During the exercise, the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing provided in-flight refueling from the KC-135 for the RJ, and transport for mission essential personnel in addition to support for partner air platforms. The 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron operated from an austere location proving their ability to maintain a resilient and flexible logistics network capable of supporting agile combat employment operations. This allowed our partner nation and U.S aircrews’ freedom of movement and sustained airpower for longer periods of time, extending their reach in the Middle East.

The joint effort not only highlighted the 379th AEW’s commitment of maintaining readiness and deterrence toward adversaries in the USCENTCOM’s AOR, but also wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower and engage in ACE scenarios.

Aircraft flying
A U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron departs after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during Operation Agile Spartan above the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, Aug. 19, 2023. The RC-135 Rivet Joint is fitted with a highly-sophisticated sensor suite for identifying various signals within the electromagnetic spectrum. During the exercise, the aircraft showcased its ability to provide imminent threat warnings, support troops in contact, and assist with personnel recovery. The month-long, multinational operation demonstrated interoperability between regional partners, improved response capabilities, and further enhanced security throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leon Redfern)
Aircraft flying
Agile Spartan 23.2: RJ’s stay on watch
A U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron departs after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during Operation Agile Spartan above the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, Aug. 19, 2023. The RC-135 Rivet Joint is fitted with a highly-sophisticated sensor suite for identifying various signals within the electromagnetic spectrum. During the exercise, the aircraft showcased its ability to provide imminent threat warnings, support troops in contact, and assist with personnel recovery. The month-long, multinational operation demonstrated interoperability between regional partners, improved response capabilities, and further enhanced security throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leon Redfern)
Photo By: Senior Airman Leon Redfern
VIRIN: 230819-F-MI946-1702

The RJ provides national leaders and regional partners with a unique capability, providing real-time intelligence, surveillance, and dissemination to mission and coalition partners, augmenting regional and international security.

Between the flight deck crew, electronic warfare officers, intelligence operators and in-flight maintenance technicians, the team was able to gather critical information, process data, and transmit actionable intelligence to decision-makers on the ground and in the air.

“This aircraft is the only one in the world that can do what we do,” said Senior Airman Gregory Allen, 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron airborne cryptologic language analyst. “We get to work closely with decision makers, and getting to see the impact of our mission is rewarding.”

Aircrews gather the data in real time to provide imminent threat warnings, protecting assets around the AOR.

“Our team works tirelessly to prepare for the next conflict and to ensure theater and global security,” Ruiz said. “I'm proud to serve with these Airmen and proud of what we bring to the fight every day.”

Pilots on an aircraft flight deck
U.S. Air Force Capt. Trevor Williams, 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron aircraft commander, left, and Capt. Brett Butler, 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron pilot, prepares to land a KC-135 Stratotanker during Operation Agile Spartan at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 19, 2023. The large-scale exercise reinforced the U.S. commitment to its regional partners across the Middle East through developing and maintaining missions in unpredictable ways, rapidly responding to the needs of joint and coalition commanders. The month-long, multinational operation demonstrated interoperability between regional partners, improved response capabilities, and further enhanced security throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leon Redfern)
Pilots on an aircraft flight deck
Agile Spartan 23.2: RJ’s stay on watch
U.S. Air Force Capt. Trevor Williams, 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron aircraft commander, left, and Capt. Brett Butler, 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron pilot, prepares to land a KC-135 Stratotanker during Operation Agile Spartan at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 19, 2023. The large-scale exercise reinforced the U.S. commitment to its regional partners across the Middle East through developing and maintaining missions in unpredictable ways, rapidly responding to the needs of joint and coalition commanders. The month-long, multinational operation demonstrated interoperability between regional partners, improved response capabilities, and further enhanced security throughout the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leon Redfern)
Photo By: Senior Airman Leon Redfern
VIRIN: 230819-F-MI946-1765

The RJ has been active in all other theaters around the world, but has consistently conducted 13,460 non-stop combat missions and completed over 145,000 flying hours throughout the Middle East for 33 years in support of operations DESERT STORM, DESERT SHIELD, NORTHERN WATCH, SOUTHERN WATCH, ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and now INHERENT RESOLVE and SPARTAN SHIELD.

Operation Agile Spartan acted as a proving ground, testing the RJ’s versatile capabilities and integration into ACE scenarios, solidifying its reputation as a powerful strategic asset in the Middle East and across the globe.


 
 

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