Agile Spartan 23.2: RJ’s stay on watch

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leon Redfern
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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.

Commonly referred to as the RJ, the RC-135 Rivet Joint deployed from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska 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 (AOR). 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 (ACE) 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 the wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower and engage in ACE scenarios.

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.”

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.