An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | July 29, 2023

Royal Air Force flies with the 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron

By Airman 1st Class Luis E. Rios Calderon, 18th Wing Public Affairs

For over a decade, the U.S. Air Force and the United Kingdom Royal Air Force have been partnering together to enhance crew training, technology development, maintenance, and aircrew co-manning. This year marks the first time a RAF flight lieutenant was integrated into the RC-135 Rivet Joint program.

“The Royal Air Force bought into the air secret program back in 2010 after the decommissioning of the Nimrod R1 to regain those signal intelligence capabilities back into the Royal Air Force,” said Royal Air Force Flt. Lt. Jan Van Vreden, who participated in the RC-135 Rivet Joints integration program at Kadena. “So that’s when that intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and the U.K. started to regenerate.”

Van Vreden said RAF pilots co-crew and train in the school house with the 338th Combat Training Squadron before returning to the U.K. and going through a U.K. acceptance program, preparing them to be combat-ready before re-integrating with U.S. Air Force aircrews.

“This way our pilots are both combat ready and able to crew independently with U.S. aircrews, so if ever needed, a U.K. aircraft commander can take command of a USAF aircraft and vice-versa,” Van Vreden said. “We’ve been doing it routinely with the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron because of how close they are to us, and it has helped us streamline what we do in a similar way as the 95th.”

“Working with Flt. Lt. Van Vreden has been an absolute pleasure,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Casey, 82d Reconnaissance Squadron commander. “He is a credit to the Royal Air Force’s No. 51 Squadron, and has brought this intimate knowledge of the European theater to the Pacific, providing our aircrews with growth opportunities that we wouldn’t normally see out here.”

Casey said that the integration program in the Pacific began in 2021, with Flt. Lt. Van being the first RAF pilot to participate in the integration program.

“Overall, it has been a resounding success for both the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force,” Casey said. “I wish he could spend more time with us, but I look forward to more co-manning opportunities with the No. 51 Squadron and the Royal Air Force as a whole.”

“It shows the importance of the Pacific and the platform as a whole, having the U.K. investing their resources and sending their members to the Pacific,” Casey said. “Showing the importance of it and their appreciation for how important a free and open Indo-Pacific is.”

Between receiving mentoring from the instructor pilot that was on board with them, and getting a chance to be the acting aircraft commander, Van Vreden said actioning everything instead of going through a checklist was all part of an amazing mentoring experience.

“The operational tempo has been great, we get a lot of flying done. The way they do things here is a lot more straightforward, which in my opinion is the ideal way of doing things,” Van Vreden said. “You plan and fly on the same day, and with changing conditions or mission profiles, it helps us develop our flexibility. We have to be flexible and that’s probably one of the biggest things I will take back to my squadron to help maximize our efficiency.”

Van Vreden said, his time in Okinawa has been fantastic and has helped him build up both his professional and personal experiences.

“It raises the collaboration between us and our nations, it helps bolster relations between the U.K. and the US, and it's a statement about the long-standing relationship between our intelligence communities,” Van Vreden said. “We hope this helps promote the 82nd and Kadena with its unique tempo and operational environment to RAF headquarters, we need the experience out here and I’m hoping this helps encourage more future deployments out here.”




18th MEDCOM Commanding General at LANPAC 24: Remote robotic surgeries to save lives on future battlefields?
18th Medical Command Commanding General Paula Lodi discusses Army Medicine in the Indo-Pacific Region during Land Forces Pacific 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii, May 14, 2024. 18th MEDCOM sets the Joint theater for medical operations while increasing its strategic posture by synchronizing and coordinating health service support and medical logistics across its more than 4,000 square mile area of responsibility.
May 15, 2024 - What does it take to win in the complex Indo-Pacific region? Spanning over 4,000 miles and consisting mostly of the air and maritime domain, as well as densely populated land masses, the Indo-Pacific creates logistical...

Enhancing communication capabilities with the Philippine Air Force
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Quincy Brooks, 644th Combat Communication Squadron client systems technician, briefs Philippine Air Force 1st Lt. John Mangaoang, assistant director for command and control capability for the office of the assistant chief of Air Staff, about the Harris PRC-152A line of sight radio capabilities during Cope Thunder 24-1 at Basa Air Base, Philippines, Apr. 12, 2024. Cope Thunder 24-1 enables the U.S. and the Philippines to integrate capabilities and technologies to enhance interoperability at all levels. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)
May 15, 2024 - Bilateral exercises such as Cope Thunder 24-1 underscore the importance of allied and partner nations coming together to enhance interoperability between participating forces. One key aspect of this collaboration is ensuring...

U.S. Navy Destroyer Conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation in the South China Sea
SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 10, 2024) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG-97) conducts routine underway operations in the South China Sea, May 10, 2024. Halsey is forward-deployed and assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ismael Martinez)
May 15, 2024 - On May 10, USS Halsey (DDG 97) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law...

Statement from NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson on the U.S.-PRC Talks on AI Risk and Safety
Graphic intended for use as a placeholder for Statements and Press Releases without accompanying imagery.
May 14, 2024 - Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Technology and National Security Tarun Chhabra and Department of State Acting Special Envoy for Critical and Emerging Technologies Seth Center will lead an...

U.S. Army provides legal training to Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers
(Left to right) U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Lillard, national security law attorney, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gabriel Bush, deputy staff judge advocate, Andersen AFB, Guam, and Maj. Christopher Niemiec, international operations officer, Defense Institute of International Legal Studies pose for a photo with Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers April 6, 2024, Tumon, Guam, during Defense Institute of International Legal Studies training. The three-day training session covered a wide range of topics crucial to the legal aspects of detainee operations, law of armed conflict, and legal considerations in conflict zones to four PNGDF officers re-introducing aircraft to their air wing. (Courtesy)
May 14, 2024 - A U.S. Army national security law attorney conducted Defense Institute of International Legal Studies training with Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers in an effort to enhance their legal expertise April 4, 2024, in...