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

Jul 27 2014 - 5 Comments

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

  • Patrick

    Judging by the reactions on Twitter from people living in Tripoli the F-16’s had a large deterrent effect on the fighting in the city – as militias ceased all combat when they heard the Vipers overhead.

    Also according to this Air Force Times article the evacuation was protected by 3 F-16’s from Aviano.


  • Sanguine Rose

    yes! the US, please keep your hands off ukraine (and let that fratricide war being settled between christian orthodox russians and their little brothers ‘ukrainians’ -who are just russians too), focus on libiya, north korea and mexico instead, thanks.

    • Robert A. Little

      Ah, yes indeed. While the U.S. is being criticized for actually keeping it’s ‘hands’ off of the popularly elected government of Ukraine, Russia has stolen the Crimea and flooded rebels with main battle tanks, APC’s, thousands of small arms and of course, the Buk, the missile launcher that killed 298 civilians flying to Malaysia. Good, balanced opinion.

  • The EP-3 is also known for being overhead during The Battle of Mogadishu

    • big john ok

      That wasnt a ep-3, I cant revel who was there but it was my old squadron.