The U.S. P8-A Poseidon, with U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Scott Swift aboard, had patrolled the South China Sea over the weekend. The Poseidon is one the U.S.’s newest spy planes. Asked about the activity in the South China Sea, the Navy chose to be discreet.
The patrol was conducted amidst the heightened tensions between the Philippines and China over territorial claims. It also came amidst report that the P8-A Poseidon was spotted with a new mysterious pod.
U.S. Commander of the Pacific Fleet patrols South China Sea
According to a report from The Associated Press, the Poseidon flew Swift in a surveillance mission over the South China Sea. The surveillance took seven hours and was conducted on Saturday. Asked about the details of the surveillance mission, U.S. Navy Capt Charlie Brown, who flew with Swift, told AP that the commander wants to experience firsthand the “aircraft’s full range of capabilities.” Brown refused to comment when asked if the Poseidon flew the area to witness China’s activities in the disputed territory of which the U.S. is openly against.
Boeing described the Poseidon as an aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The aircraft is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations. It combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space.
What is the mysterious new pod installed in the Poseidon?
The Poseidon’s surveillance mission over the South China Sea happened as the plane was pictured with a new mysterious pod. The photos were taken by aviation photographer Josh Kaiser and were first reported by the Foxtrot Alpha.
According to Foxtrot, the mysterious pod is made up of an antenna and housing. Wild guess could be that this pod will allow P8-A to hear enemy’s communications, including enemies that speak foreign language. The pod could transmit these communications to linguists who can translate them in real time. These linguists may work even from all possible locations across the world and may not necessarily work while aboard the Poseidon.
US increases presence over South China Sea
On July 9, the Pacific Fleet’s littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, together with the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen, completed their first combined South China Sea presence. According to the fleet’s official announcement, such presence operations provide U.S. Navy ships the opportunity to practice the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with other nations’ ships operating in the region. The U.S. Navy ships have been using CUES to formally communicate maneuvering intentions with ships from other navies to minimize the risk of miscalculations at sea.
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