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US retracts statement spy plane flew over Taiwan

Pacific Air Forces confirm that contrary to previous statement, no US aircraft flew over Taipei

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An RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft 

An RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The United States Air Force (USAF) has retracted confirmation that one of its RC-135W electronic surveillance aircraft flew over Taipei earlier this week, reports said Saturday (Oct. 24).

Originally, Twitter flight tracking accounts Golf9 and Tokyo Radar reported Wednesday (Oct. 21) the plane, also known as a Rivet Joint, had flown at an altitude of 31,500 feet above central Taipei. Most USAF flights stay away from Taiwanese airspace, and in this case, the island nation’s military immediately denied such a flight had taken place.

A USAF spokesman surprised observers by confirming the flight did occur “as part of an operational intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission,” the news website The War Zone reported. However, on Friday (Oct. 23), the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) contacted the news site to retract the previous confirmation.

“We did not have any U.S. aircraft in that area on the date and time in question,” The War Zone quoted Lieutenant Colonel Tony Wickman, PACAF director of public affairs, as saying.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have been high, as the communist country has been sending warplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on an almost daily basis over the past few months. USAF planes have been rounding Taiwan as well, mostly passing over the Bashi Channel to the south and into the South China Sea.