HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

RC-135U Combat Sent

OVER GREENVILLE, Texas -- An RC-135U Combat Sent aircraft flies a training mission from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The RC-135U aircraft are manned by Air Combat Command crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 97th Intelligence Squadron. (Courtesy photo)

OVER GREENVILLE, Texas -- An RC-135U Combat Sent aircraft flies a training mission from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The RC-135U aircraft are manned by Air Combat Command crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 97th Intelligence Squadron. (Courtesy photo)

OVER GREENVILLE, Texas -- An RC-135U Combat Sent aircraft flies a training mission from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. There are only two Combat Sent aircraft in the Air Force inventory and both are assigned to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB.

OVER GREENVILLE, Texas -- An RC-135U Combat Sent aircraft flies a training mission from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. There are only two Combat Sent aircraft in the Air Force inventory and both are assigned to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB.

Mission
The RC-135U Combat Sent provides strategic electronic reconnaissance information to the president, secretary of defense, Department of Defense leaders, and theater commanders. Locating and identifying foreign military land, naval and airborne radar signals, the Combat Sent collects and minutely examines each system, providing strategic analysis for warfighters. Collected data is also stored for further analysis by the joint warfighting and intelligence communities. The Combat Sent deploys worldwide and is employed in peacetime and contingency operations.

Features
All RC-135U aircraft are equipped with an aerial refueling system, giving it an unlimited flying range. Communication equipment includes high frequency, very high frequency, and ultra high frequency radios. The navigation equipment incorporates ground navigation radar, a solid state Doppler system, and an inertial navigation system that merges celestial observations and Global Positioning System data. Although the flight crew stations are similarly configured, the reconnaissance equipment is slightly unique within each airframe.

The aircraft are identified by their distinctive antennae arrays on the "chin" and wing tips, large cheek fairings, and extended tail.

Crew composition includes two pilots, one navigator, two airborne systems engineers, and a minimum of 10 electronic warfare officers, or "Ravens," and six or more electronic, technical, and area specialists.

Background
There are only two Combat Sent aircraft in the Air Force inventory and both are assigned to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Neb. The RC-135U aircraft are manned by Air Combat Command crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 97th Intelligence Squadron (of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency). The Combat Sent is composed of a wide variety of commercial off-the-shelf and proprietary hardware and software. Its current configuration allows for both manual and automatic analysis of electronic signals. By combining manual systems with the Automatic Electronic Emitter Locating System, Ravens and intelligence specialists can simultaneously locate, identify, and analyze multiple electronic signals.

The Combat Sent records these signals for future reference or for extensive analysis by electronic systems theorists. Any information garnered from the data will help determine detailed operating characteristics and capabilities of foreign systems. Evasion techniques and equipment are then developed from this knowledge that will detect, warn of, or defeat these electronic systems.

General Characteristics
Primary function: Electronic intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance
Contractor: Boeing Aerospace
Power Plant: Four CFM International F108-CF-201 high bypass turbofan engines
Thrust: 21,600 pounds per engine
Wingspan: 135 feet, 1 inch (41.4 meters)
Length:
140 feet, 1 inch (42.6 meters)
Height: 41 feet, 8 inches (12.7 meters)
Weight: 165,7000 (75,160 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 299,000 pounds (135,626.4 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 130,000 pounds (58,967 kilograms)
Speed: 500+ miles per hour (Mach 0.66)
Range: 4,000 nautical miles 
Ceiling: 35,000+ feet (10,668+ meters)
Crew: Two pilots, one navigator, two airborne systems engineers, and a minimum of 10 electronic warfare officers (flight crew from 45th RS) and six or more mission area specialists (mission crew from 97th IS)
Unit Cost: Not available
Initial operational capability: April 1964
Inventory: Active force, 2; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0 

Engage

Twitter
“I can help [#Airmen] and prepare them for the challenges they’ll face as NCO’s; everything I’ve encountered has pr… https://t.co/YT3x1UjGFU
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A/SecAF Roth is speaking now on the future capabilities the Department requires to protect the Nation--including the Gro…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense is asking A/SecAF Roth about investments to modernize the @USAirForce
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @Travis60AMW: An honor to host Ambassador Islam and show our aerial port in real time as #TeamTravis palletized and loaded critical supp…
Twitter
“We’re much stronger when partnering and working together. It’s a partnership and alliance that we need to continue… https://t.co/y7JxcTPlhK
Twitter
.@124FighterWing Tactical Air Control Party #Airmen participated in a field training exercise in Prairie, Idaho. Th… https://t.co/Eg9z61IICI
Twitter
24 students were selected for the inaugural #AimHigh Flight Academy hosted by @usaf_inspire. They will immerse into… https://t.co/2r4OuyxHRW
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: With summer 🌞setting us up for great weather for outdoor activities, it's time to lace up those 👟and get ready to run! Check…
Twitter
“The relationship between the Senegalese and U.S. #AirForce is important in different ways, but especially the U.S.… https://t.co/JH5ZtD6Jwd
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: This is what partnership looks like 🤝 Hear @usairforce combat aviation advisors and their Kenya Air Force, @kdfinfo, pa…
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: 🚨🚨🚨#BTF News🚨🚨🚨 #B52 aircraft integrated with fighters from #Spain and #Portugal this week during a #BomberTaskForce miss…
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: .@185ARW KC-135 aircrew refuel @48FighterWing F-15 Strike Eagle aircraft off the coast of Scotland during #FormidableShie
Twitter
“When I learned @Harvard offered a graduate-level Nuclear Deterrence Certificate and @AFGlobalStrike would pay for… https://t.co/X34oXHJwC9
Twitter
“We are working to modernize Joint Mission Planning System with a service-oriented architecture that will increase… https://t.co/z3NEpSrRC1
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,347,199
Follow Us