Spy Planes…

Sure, you’ve heard of the U-2 and the SR-71. But have you heard of the Dash-7?

I was poking around one of my usual online stops and came across this story:

The US military has planes like F-22A stealth fighters that make a lot of news. It also has planes that make very little news, even though they play key roles in a number of conflicts around the world. One example is the RC-7B/EO-5B “Crazy Hawk”/ Airborne Reconnaissance Low aircraft, who use their short-field takeoff capabilities and array of imaging, signals collection, and radar sensors to monitor developments on the ground.

The Army operates the RC-7B/EO-5B aircraft. They are converted from DeHavilland Canada DASH-7 commuter airliners.


They were originally intended to support counter-narcotics operations in South America. Mostly by listening to the druggies communications. A similar program using specially built Beechcraft turboprops is supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan under a program called Task Force Odin/Constant Hawk.

I mainly posted this because I was in my office one day with a coworker who was an aviation enthusiast and a former Army aviation crewmember. I looked out the window onto the parking ramp of the airport next door and there sat a RC-7. I called out to my coworker and asked if he wanted to see a spyplane. He didn’t believe me when I told him what it was. He figured it must be a private plane. A quick google search of the registration number came back showing the owner as “US GOVERNMENT”, but was pretty thin on info after that…

As a side note, one of my coworkers as a recruiter was an intel guy. He didn’t mention working directly with these, but I know he did a lot of imagery analysis, which would come from these.  His tours in South America included being stationed on a barge anchored in a harbor to keep the curious away.

5 thoughts on “Spy Planes…”

  1. During the U.S. inviation of Hati, the RC-7’s pain schemes had local pilots all over the caribbean convinced that a new american communter airline was in the area. So even complaied to their local governemtns about this upstart new airline.

  2. A 4-engine fixed wing? How the hell did we AF types let the Army get away with that? I thought we learned our lesson with the Mohawks….I’m a bitter man. You Army guys stop poaching on our territory!! For shame!….and all that.

  3. PS One of my child-hood friends thru HS was a Mohawk driver at DaNang–they lived at the far west end of the Marine runway–would bump into him occasionally at stake nite at MACV Club in downtown DaNang.

  4. Virgil, when the nicest place the RC-7’s are stationed is Howard AFB, in Panama, the blue suiters were in no rush to take over the mission.

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