TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Multiple aircraft spotters allegedly detected an American reconnaissance aircraft landing in Taipei on Tuesday (Aug. 18), but military officials swiftly denied that the aircraft had entered Taiwan's airspace.
At 11:37 a.m. on Tuesday morning, aircraft spotter Golf9 on Twitter reported that a U.S. Navy Lockheed EP-3E ARIES II electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft with the registration number 157318 appeared to be flying over northern Taiwan. Strangely, it appeared as if it was taking off from an airfield in Taipei and heading toward the East China Sea.
Flightpath of EP-3E posted at 11:37 a.m. (Twitter, Golf9 image)
At 11:42 a.m., Golf9 claimed that the plane had doubled back over Taiwan and was heading south toward the interior of the country.
Flightpath of EP-3E posted at 11:42 a.m. (Twitter, Golf9 image)
Callsign: CANUK78 at 1:04 p.m. posted an image of the plane on the ground and showed its last position as being over Taipei. This led netizens to speculate that the plane had landed at Songshan Airport.
At 2:11 p.m., the Twitter page Taiwan Formosa Club posted still more flightpaths from other aircraft spotting sites showing the spy plane appearing to at least circle over Taipei. The author of the post then claimed that at 12:38 p.m., a "US Navy EP-3E landed in Taiwan in a joint #FreeandopenIndoPacific Operation."
However, high-ranking military officials that afternoon denied that the aircraft had entered Taiwanese airspace and called on the public to refrain from spreading rumors, reported Apple Daily.
Last Friday (Aug. 14), aircraft spotters allegedly detected the same plane over northern Taiwan. The Ministry of National (MND) declined a request for comment from Taiwan News on either incident.