Wednesday, October 5, 2022

U.S. Army spy planes flies mission around Belarus

At least two U.S. Army RC-12X Guardrail aircraft equipped with a specialized system to provides multi-mission electronic surveillance support have conducted what appears spy mission in Lithuania near the border with Belarus, according to FlightRadar 24.

According to data from the flight-tracking service, two RC-12X Guardrail aircraft, which carried the U.S. Army registration 92-13120 and 93-00701, are conducting their series of surveillance missions over Lithuania in border areas with Belarus amid an unprecedented escalation of tensions in the region.

Guardrail, also known as Guardrail Common Sensor (GRCS), is a Special Electronic Mission Aircraft that has been providing critical Aerial Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AISR) capability.


RC-12X Guardrail systems are designed to provide the most timely, accurate and relevant tactical signal intelligence, or SIGINT, to tactical commanders. Intelligence gathered during Guardrail missions is sent back to analysts operating in ground stations outside hostile areas.

The GRCS fleet is comprised of 14 mission aircraft supporting multiple combatant commands and five training platforms. In Fiscal Year 2018, the GRCS mission aircraft’s economic useful life was extended until 2034.

GRCS sensor capability produces high-accuracy Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and Electronics Intelligence (ELINT) for battlefield mapping of common and modern signals of interest for detection, identification and geolocation of known threats. The Distributed Common Ground System–Army (DCGS-A) Operational Ground Station (OGS) processing, exploitation and dissemination capabilities allow for real-time signal exploitation and reporting, ensuring information dominance to commanders.


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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.