And now China's special missions Tupolev 154s have gotten in the act. The Japanese Ministry of Defence has issued a press release that it has scrambled interceptors against a Chinese Air Force Tu-154MD Type II Signals Intelligence/Electronic Intelligence (SIGINT/ELINT) aircraft west of Okinawa (see attached map for flightpath) on Saturday the 16th of November.
The aircraft, carrying a civil code (B-4015) is one of at least four such aircraft in the Chinese Air Force's inventory. The conversion of the type to its current role was carried out in the early 1990s, and originally carried a BM/KZ-800 ELINT suite. The Type II aircraft that was intercepted sports a long canoe fairing at the front of the fuselage, believed to house a Synthetic Aperture Radar as well as other fairings for its specialised role. The aircraft serve with the secretive 102nd Air Regiment, 34th Transport Division at Beijing-Nanyuan.