Australian air force plane spotted operating over East China Sea

A Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was operating in airspace over the East China Sea today, according to a Chinese think tank that monitors aircraft movements in the area.

China’s semi-official South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI) posted a map of the aircraft’s flight trajectory on Twitter today, observing that is was “unusual to see an Australian P-8A operating over the East China Sea.”

The Australian Department of Defense (DoD) announced the aircraft’s deployment in the region the day the P-8A arrived at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, February 25.

The P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will be deployed on Operation ARGOS, the DoD said.

“The aircraft will operate out of Kadena Airbase in Japan and offer airborne surveillance support to the global effort to enforce United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea,” the DoD wrote in a press release, February 25.

Operation ARGOS commenced in 2018 and seeks to address illicit trade and sanction evasion while supporting efforts to build a secure East Asia and Indo-Pacific, the press release said.

Operation ARGOS is part of a multinational force with contributions from countries including Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Today, March 2, is the first time the aircraft was spotted operating in the area.

SCSPI map showing flight path of RAAF P-8A, March 2, 2021
SCSPI map showing flight path of RAAF P-8A, March 2, 2021.
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