Air Pictorial 2002-05
J.Locker - Balkan Real-time Reconnaissance
A US Navy Lockheed P-3B Orion 153450 wearing the code 227 pictured at RAF Mildenhall on April 24, 2000. Devoid of squadron marks this aircraft belongs to a Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit, VPU-1 based at NAS Brunswick, Me. The unit’s aircraft are modified for intelligence gathering and it is possibly footage from their aircraft, flying from NAS Sigonella in Sicily, under the auspices of VP-5 detached there, that is being picked up.
Early in December 2001 the P-3 Orion was operating north of Skopje. As the camera panned across the underside of the wing it picked up what turned out to be a Theater Injection Pod (TIP 64) used by special ops aircraft to communicate direct with ground stations and satellites. The dark area above the pod is the underside of an engine, while the black vertical band in the lower image above is a propeller.
Sistership Skymaster, N726AS, also owned by Airscan, to the one operating from Skopje in Macedonia.
The camera on Cessna 337 Skymaster N731AS of Airscan shows part of the registration on the boom of the aircraft while in flight.