Suspicious Military Planes at Shannon
On Aug 9th we reported on a suspicious Boeing 757 operated by the US Air Force Special Operations Command at Shannon. We highlighted that the plane, with registration 02-4452, appears to be used to support US special forces and CIA operations.
While the plane falls under the aegis of Air Force Special Operations Command, it is in fact operated by 486th Flight Test Squadron which the American Special Ops website describe as "highly secretive units, with little information publicly available about their activities". They have two aircraft, both of them are C-32B's or former Boeing 757s. One is 02-4452 which we photographed at Shannon on Aug 9th. The other is 00–9001.
Both of these very suspicious aircraft have been refuelling at Shannon over the past month.
02-4452 arrived on 31st August from Ramstein US air base in Germany at about 10.30 am and took off for McGuire Joint Air base in the USA at about 12.25 pm. Shannonwatch also photographed it at Shannon on 9th August.
The other one, 00-9001 was refuelled at Shannon on 1st August 2002.
We have also recorded these aircraft flying through Irish airspace without landing.
The two planes have a plain white paint scheme with minimal markings. Americal Special Ops says that they appear to change serial numbers many times, most likely in an attempt to keep a low profile.
They also appear to be equipped for special operations, including intelligence gathering. This would put them in breach of the Irish government's claims that US military aircraft landing at Shannon are unarmed, carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives, are not engaged in intelligence gathering, and that the flights do not form part of military exercises or operations.
We will be asking the government questions about this when they return tomorrow.