Unidentified Air Force Surveillance Aircraft Circled Over Seattle for Days

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

A mysterious gray aircraft has spent nearly two weeks flying in circles over Seattle, and we still don’t know exactly why.

The heavily modified USAF CASA CN-235-300 transport aircraft was outfitted with elaborate information-gathering hardware, described in all of its apparent detail by the Drive. The aircraft’s callsign is SPUD21, and was in the air as recently as Friday on one of its patrols. Its equipment includes microwave and ultra-high frequency satellite communications gear, as well as a multitude of cutting-edge sensors. It is unmarked, save for the USAF serial on its tail: 66042. SPUD21 flies its missions out of Boeing Field, operating via Clay Lacy Aviation, rather than Boeing’s military ramp.

So far, no military organization has claimed responsibility for the CN-235. Neither U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), nor Joint Task Force-North (JTF-N) are tracking the aircraft or its mission, according to their respective officers of public affairs. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has not determined whether SPUD21 belongs to one of its units, and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) merely forwarded the question back to AFSOC.

The Drive pursued the question of “basic ownership” until they hit a Pentagon-shaped wall. And while the Pentagon did not provide them with any useful information, it does appear that the aircraft is most likely being used in some sort of secret testing, or military exercise. As it happens, this CN-235 is associated with five others in similar configurations, previously used by the Air Force’s top secret 427th Special Operations Squadron.

For now, that is as much as we know. Whoever is controlling SPUD21 remains elusive, and its peculiar behaviors are no easier to discern now than when it was first sighted over the Emerald City.

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