US plane disguised as PH aircraft may have been used to test China — Esperon

Philippine National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

THE United States may have been testing Chinese forces when a U.S. Air Force surveillance plane disguised as a Philippine aircraft flew over the Yellow Sea last week, Philippine National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said on Thursday, October 1.

“The pilots are probably trying to test the reaction that would come from China and so the Chinese reacted and it came out in the news,” he said at a press briefing.

“They could be trying really the capacity of China,” he added.

On September 22, Beijing-based South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) reported that the U.S. Air Force’s RC-135S reconnaissance plane reportedly used a hex code assigned to a Philippine aircraft when it flew over the Yellow Sea between the Chinese coast and Korea peninsula.

The U.S. plane reverted to its original code after completing its mission.

A hex code is used by the International Civil Aviation Organization as a means to identify an aircraft.

Esperon noted that Philippine aircrafts rarely cross the Yellow Sea, adding that the ploy was meant to raise suspicions from China.

“We stay usually within our domain air and maritime domain for our patrols, hindi napupunta dun sa (we do not go to the) Yellow Sea for surveillance or anything,” he said.
“So when you notice a Philippine code comes to the area, then all the more it brings suspicion,” he added.

Esperon also stressed that the incident must be discussed with U.S. officials as it could “incriminate” the Philippines.

“What could happen really is it could implicate or incriminate the Philippine side. Nonetheless, we hope this could be settled satisfactorily,” he said.

According to website, RC-135S is a “militarized Boeing 707” jet equipped with a sophisticated array of optical and electronic sensors, recording media and communications equipment. The plan is only deployed on orders of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff, the highest officer in the U.S. military.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at

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