U.S. Air Force has deployed at least one Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call electronic warfare (EW) plane in one of its bases in the Middle East.
On September 18, Manu Gómez, an observer of civilian and military aviation, spotted the advanced EW plane over the eastern Mediterranean. The plane flew over Israel than Jordan before turning off its transmitter.
USAF EC-130H Compass Call 73-1580 AXIS41 Electronic warfare/SEAD aircraft heading towards the Middle East (no position) pic.twitter.com/XjArFYPWkc
— Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) September 18, 2019
The EC-130H may have landed in Jordan or continued its way towards Saudi Arabia or one of the U.S. airbases in Iraq, the UAE or Qatar.
Built on the base of Lockheed Martin’s C-130, the Compass Call is a heavily modified variant designed to disrupt enemy command and control communications, perform offensive counter-information operations, and carry out other kinds of electronic attacks.
The deployment of the EC-130H EW plane in the Middle East appears to be a part of measures employed by the U.S. and its regional allies in response to the September 14 Abqaiq–Khurais attack. In a large-scale operation, ten suicide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the Houthis attacked early on September 14 two strategic oil facilities in the eastern Saudi areas of Buqayq and Khurais.
The Trump administration blamed Iran for the strikes that appeared to have been executed with cruise missiles, casting doubt on claims made by the Yemeni Houthi group that drones were used. Authorities in Tehran denied the accusation.
President Donald Trump on Sunday evening tweeted that the US has “reason to believe that we know” who is responsible for an attack on a Saudi Arabian oil field and the country is “locked and loaded depending on verification” following the crippling strike.
The EC-130H Compass Call is an electronic attack aircraft flown by the United States Air Force. Based on the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, the aircraft is heavily modified to disrupt enemy command and control communications, perform offensive counterinformation operations, and carry out other kinds of electronic attacks. Planned upgrades will add the ability to attack early warning and acquisition radars.
Based at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona, EC-130Hs can be deployed worldwide at short notice to support U.S. and allied tactical air, surface, and special operations forces.
The EC-130H is one of the three main U.S. electronic warfare aircraft, along with the Boeing EA-18 Growler, and F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, all of which can suppress enemy air defenses while jamming communications, radar, and command-and-control targets.