An Egyptian spy plane conducted a reconnaissance flight over the northern Libyan city of Misrata on April 14. The coastal city is controlled by several militias allied with the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital of Tripoli.
Manu Gómez, an observer of civilian and military aviation, identified the plane as a US-made C-130 Hercules. However, military experts believe that the plane seen over Misrata was a specific version of the Hercules that was upgraded with electronic intelligence (ELINT) capabilities.
— Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) April 15, 2019
In 2017, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) was given a contract by the Pentagon to equip at least one C-130 plane of the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) with ELINT equipment.
Egypt is one of the key backers of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is currently advancing towards the GNA-held Tripoli. A day earlier, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met with LNA Commander-In-Chief Field Marshal Khalifa in Cairo, where the two leaders discussed the current situation in Libya.
Misrata’s militias, most of them radicals, are actively supporting pro-GNA forces. An airbase south of the city is hosting most of GNA air force warplanes. From there, several airstrikes were launched on LNA forces.
The EAF C-130 was likely collecting information about the Misrata air base to provide LNA forces with an advantage on the battlefield, or even to assit in preparing a large-scale attack on the airbase.