How Does a Spy Plane Work?


Quick Answer

According to information provided at HowStuffWorks, a spy plane such as the ones the United States employs works by catching stray transmissions, such as email and telephone calls, processes them and sends them back to the officers at base to be used. This information is captured with dishes and antennas equipped on the plane.

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Full Answer

One model of spy plane is the EP-3E, which is equipped with a radome, a device that interacts with radar waves while transparent to them. Inside of the radome is the radar antennae, which is what interacts with radar frequencies. Most of the plane's other equipment is classified, giving the public very little other information about it.

Twelve planes created by Lockheed-Martin were converted into spy planes in the 1990s. These planes were made into EP-3E planes to replace aging models that could not be used in modern situations. These planes are hefty vehicles, equipped with a crew of over 20 and pulled through the air by four propellers. Each of these planes is equipped with the information retrieval equipment needed for the on-board crew to interpret and send back data to their home airfield. Although they are larger planes than jets or single-manned planes, they do not come equipped with weaponry.

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