The U.S. Military Wants To Limit Flight Tracking Of Its Aircraft | Aviation


File photo of an MC-130J Commando II of the 67th Special Operations Squadron, one of the assets usually employed to move around Special Operation Forces which might benefit from flight tracking limitations. (Photo: Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via AP)

The move is supposed to mitigate the operational security threats posed by open-source ADS-B systems.

Earlier this year, we reported about the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command making a drastic change to its fleet of cargo and tanker aircraft, removing all identification markings, including tail numbers, tail flashes, unit markings and the iconic U.S. Air Force writing usually found on the fuselage. The decision, which left the aircraft wearing a plain grey livery with a small US flag on the tail and low-visibility USAF roundels, was said to be due to operational security (OPSEC) reasons.

Since then, various AMC aircraft have been sighted without markings, including multiple C-130s and KC-135s. It now appears that other aircraft are losing their markings, as C-32A executive transport jets and the secretive C-32B Gatekeeper personnel transport planes, both military variants of the Boeing 757, have been caught without serial numbers.

Last month, a C-32A was photographed first at Phoenix airport and later while landing at Yokota Air Base in Japan and the lack of the serial number painted on the vertical tail, just below the US flag, immediately caught the eye of plane spotters. Even if the serial number was removed, spotters were still able to find it, together with the flight’s callsign, by using open-source flight tracking.

The same happened at least since April with the C-32B, which was photographed with the serial number, usually painted near the rearmost passenger door, replaced by a small US flag. Again, flight trackers were still able to determine through open-source data the identity…

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