Monday, June 23, 2014

RAF loses the Battle of Bureaucrats.

The US was going to bring the Brits on board the Rivet Joint signals intelligence business.  Rivet Joint intel has been collected by RC-135 electronic intelligence aircraft.  The Americans donated an RC-135 to the RAF for signals intelligence. These are the trusty old KC-135 Stratotankers which have been flying in USAF service since the Eisenhower administration.  Some of them were converted into  ELINT aircraft in the 1960's by removing the fuel tanks and installing electronics.  They have been flying for 50 years.  You would think that anything with that kind of record would be safe to fly.
  Not for Brit bureaucrats.  They have a six step process for certification, after which they issue a clearance to fly the aircraft.  One step is "Type Certification Basis" (TCB) requiring paperwork going back to the 1950's.  Which was unavailable.  Especially as no one in America every heard of a TCB, let along knows what goes into one.  Second step was to show the RC-135 complied with its TCB. Needless to say, the lack of a TCB stopped that step in its tracks. 
  So, the RC-135 sits on the ramp at Waddington UK for seven months while the bureaucrats shuffle papers. This is an aircraft the Americans have been flying for fifty years.  If it doesn't have the right paperwork it must be a death trap.
   Did I read that our NASA was demanding a mountain of paperwork from SpaceX to "certify" their Falcon booster?
  Anyhow, after a seven month hold, the RAF is finally allowed to fly the aircraft. 

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