Yesterday, we tracked an USAF Boeing RC-135U (reg. 64-14847 – c/s HOMER11) in the eastern Mediterranean where it conducted a SIGINT mission off the Syrian port (Russian naval base) of Tartus. The RC-135U is a strategic electronic reconnaissance aircraft used to collect signals intelligence.
Today, the same aircraft, which took off from Souda Bay Air Base, instead operated all morning off the coast of western Libya, especially off Tripoli. A similar mission was conducted yesterday by a USN Lockheed EP-3E.
The aircraft always operated within the Libyan FIR but outside of Tripoli’s airspace.
The flights of the RC-135U and EP-3E are likely part of a larger effort to monitor the situation in Libya. The US and its allies have been concerned about the growing influence of Russia (and Turkey…) in the country.
The RC-135U’s SIGINT capabilities would allow it to collect information on a variety of targets, including Russian (and Turkish) military forces, as well as Libyan government and opposition groups.