Topic Author
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2001 10:10 pm

"Spy" Plane?

Tue May 08, 2001 9:43 pm

The Navy EP-3 being held by the Chinese is consistently referred to as a "Spy" plane.

Isn't this really a "surveillance" plane? I have always thought of a true spy plane as one designed to intentionally invade hostile airspace and avoid defenses, ala the U-2 and SR-71/A-12. How could a lumbering 4-engine turboprop be considered a spy plane?

Are the RC-135s flying out of Kadena "spy" planes too?

I don't think so.
GunFighter 6
Posts: 401
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2001 6:05 pm

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Tue May 08, 2001 9:47 pm

What is the defination of surveilance ??
that is i think the question.

probably for the americans a flight in a U2 plane over russia is just plain surveilance, however the russians see it as spying.

i think in the eye of the chineese it is definately a spy plane. and i can't say i blame em.
Topic Author
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2001 10:10 pm

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Tue May 08, 2001 10:05 pm

For simplicity:

Surveillance = the aircraft is operating legally in international airspace.

Spying = the aircraft is operating illegally within another country's sovereign airspace.
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Wed May 09, 2001 1:04 am

So Based on Braniff747's explaination....the P-3 was still only a surveilence aircraft.

But spy sounds better for the news casters. Helps them create a better story then one exists.
Posts: 371
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 1999 12:24 pm

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Wed May 09, 2001 7:52 am

Of course! Newscasters love the coverage!
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Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2000 9:37 am

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Wed May 09, 2001 1:08 pm

The EP-3 is used on recon flights, and has advanced electonic equiptment that listens to wireless communications and other things. I think most people mistake the EP-3 as an AWACS type plane, but with that type of equiptment on board, i would call it spying.
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 11:10 am

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Wed May 09, 2001 1:16 pm

I would say it becomes a spy plane when the data/information being gathered is not freely broadcasted, secret, or restricted in some way (hidden, encrypted, etc.) Such an example would be taking a picture of an airfield. This would be surveillance, yet trying to take pictures of secret activities going on at this airfield would be spying. This works out with the legal/illegal flying...if they must illegally fly in airspace, then they are being restricted from information and therefore spying and not just gathering information.

My 2 cents...
Posts: 372
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2001 12:53 am

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Wed May 09, 2001 1:30 pm

Spying generally refers to illegal or covert collection of data. The EP-3 simply monitors, openly I might add, the transmissions of its intended subject. It doesn't reach in and steal anything, it merely collects what is already there. Are the people who listen to ATC on a scanner spies?

If you don't want someone to see in your house, you close the curtains. A spy is one who tries to get inside the house. Surveillance is watching the curtains to see the shadows.

On the other side of the coin, I also see where Gunfighter6 is coming from, in that the perception of the incident comes from which side of the wall you are on.
"Never trust a clean Crew Chief"

RE: "Spy" Plane?

Mon May 14, 2001 12:22 pm

Have to agree with the media angle...makes more people pay attention when the term 'spy plane' is used, although the EP-3 is merely a sponge, soaking up the EM band for any interesting data....a lot like the term 'stealth fighter' as applied to the F-117A. Those of us in the know about that plane refer to it correctly as a 'stealth strike aircraft' as it has no gun or missiles in which to go on the offensive or to even defend itself were it to be jumped by hostile forces....

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