Also this morning, a US Navy Lockheed EP-3E Aries II (reg. 156517) left Souda Bay AB to carry out a new surveillance mission. The EP-3E Aries II is a multi-intelligence reconnaissance aircraft based on the P-3 Orion airframe. It is equipped with a variety of sensors and systems to collect signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), and electronic intelligence (ELINT) data.
This time, however, the final destination was not the Black Sea but the central Mediterranean, specifically the stretch of coast off Tripoli. The aircraft orbited for about an hour off the Libyan capital with the ADS-B transponder switched on.
These types of missions are carried out regularly by the US Navy to monitor maritime activity and collect intelligence on potential threats. However, it is rare for EP-3E Aries II aircraft to operate with their ADS-B transponders switched on.