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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

What was an American surveillance plane doing flying over Ireland for five hours?

Nobody is quite sure.

An AWACS plane similar to the one spotted over Ireland.
An AWACS plane similar to the one spotted over Ireland.
Image: Frank Augstein

EARLIER THIS WEEK, a US surveillance plane was spotted flying in a pattern over Ireland.

Newstalk reports that the US Navy Boeing E-3 Sentry plane flew for five hours between Cork, Dublin and Shannon.

The station quotes the Department of Foreign Affairs as saying the flights are allowed without prior notice once they are unarmed and carry only cargo.

There were 13 such flights in August.

Security analyst Tom Clonan told the station that this flight may have been a training flight.

“Irish people haven’t focused on what’s overhead. There’s a huge amount of traffic that passes through our airspace, including 75% of US military aircraft.

“What’s unusual about what happened Tuesday is the type of aircraft used.

“It’s a kind of eye in the sky that also serves as a command centre for what the Americans call power projection that is not in the US.

For this aircraft to do this triangle: it could have been training, it could have been US VIP flights passing through our controlled airspace or – and I think this is probably the most likely explanation – we have had other visitors to our airspace, Russian bombers. in recent times.

“With the Ukraine and rising tensions in the Balkans, some of the old Cold War rhetoric has found its way back into the international foreign relations narrative.”

The Irish Aviation Authority says that the flight had a pre-filed flight-plan and kept its transponder on at all times. However, Clonan says that the flight, particularly the fact that it kept a 28,000 foot altitude for a number of hours was “interesting”.

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