The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has long relied upon civilian-appearing charter planes to keep its operations hidden, such as its clandestine support for UNITA during the Angolan Civil War and, more recently, operations against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
On Monday, a second US aircraft likely owned by the CIA landed on Taiwan, just days after a US Air Force aircraft did the same, drawing condemnation from Beijing. Such bold moves, which China regards as territorial violations, have become increasingly common in recent years.
Just after noon on Monday, a US aircraft flying from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines touched down at Taoyuan International Airport outside Taipei. According to the Taiwan-based Liberty Times, the aircraft is carrying “diplomatic pouches” for Sandra Oudkirk, the new director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the US’ de facto embassy there.
The aircraft N3755P has been spotted under lease by other CIA fronts, too, including in late April, when it flew from Colombia to Haiti under charter by Tepper Aviation, which has operated CIA aircraft over Iraq and Somalia as well.
Monday’s visit comes just days after another US aircraft, a C-146A Wolfhound cargo plane, also visited Taiwan. The USAF aircraft flew from the US’ Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan, on July 15, and brought another parcel to Christensen in Taipei.
The visit aroused anger in Beijing, being just the latest in…