RAF Mildenhall was visited by three P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft in early October, the first of up to ten of the type expected over the following weeks, assigned to Patrol Squadron 46 (VP-46) ‘The Grey Knights’, based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. VP-46 has been deployed in the 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Restoring Hope for the past seven months. Perhaps trying to blend in with the more mundane movements was one of only a handful of the US Navy’s P-3C Special Projects Aircraft, probably assigned to Special Projects Patrol Squadron Two (VPU-2) ‘Wizards’. The aircraft did not carry its bureau number externally and was unmarked except for a code ‘610’ either side of the nose. The Wizards have long been suspected of painting its aircraft to masquerade as machines operated by Fleet Squadrons, in this case P-3C AIP+ BuNo 160610.
Wayne Button via Ade Carver.