[Photo] EP-3E ARIES II spyplane over Tripoli during U.S. Embassy evacuation

U.S. Embassy “relocation” was supported by F-16, MV-22 Osprey as well as EP-3E Aries II aircraft

The US embassy in Tripoli, Libya, was evacuated with staff “relocated” to Tunisia in the early hours of Saturday Jul. 26 amid continuing clashes between rival militias in the capital and fighting at the airport.

Although the DoD said both F-16s and MV-22 Ospreys and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft supported the evacuation, it did not unveil U.S. Navy EP-3E ARIES II signal intelligence platforms were involved in the operation.

The presence of the U.S. Navy spyplane was exposed by a picture that was posted on the Facebook page of Ejjaw Kollah group.

The ARIES II is a highly modified version of the P-3C that became famous on Apr. 1, 2001 when one such planes and its crew were detained for 11 days  following a collision with a Chinese J-8IIM fighter (that crashed causing the death of the pilot) and the subsequent emergency landing at Ligshui airbase, in Hainan island.

The U.S. Navy spyplane, most probably operating out of Sigonella, Italy, was already spotted over Libya in 2012. At the time there were rumors the aircraft was involved in operations aimed at detecting and tracking smuggled weapons travelling towards Egypt and destined to Gaza.

Below, an image of an F-16 (from Aviano airbase?) circling over Tripoli.

F-16 over Libya

Image credit: Ejjaw Kollah

About David Cenciotti 3730 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.