Can most military and VIP aircraft out of Andrews AFB transmit false ADS-B signals? Here is the ADS-B tracking of Navy P-3 Orion that seems to be violating Iranian air space tonight if the ADS-B is correct. An Iranian fighter was launched heading in it's direction but did not approach it. Two nights ago I was watching on globe.adsbexchange and flightaware the tracking of AF1 was transmitting. It was about 2 miles out from the air field for a landing and the ATC tower noted to ground crew VIP traffic is 10 miles out. It showed it landing when in fact it was still in the air. I know they are allowed to turn off their ADS-B anytime they need to for security reasons.

P3 Orion ADS-B Tracking

  • $\begingroup$ Can they, I'm certain they can. Any ADS-B transmitter sent false info will send out false results, the real question is do they. As far as the accuracy of the track being reported, this is a good Q&A on the various problems online trackers have with ADS-B. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ I get army drones on my ADS-B antenna, just FR24 will not display the tracks. ADS-B is good for anti-collision, so for training operation this is important (think about public reaction for a mid-air collision with a medair). OTOH for security, it is good not to publish them online. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ Any ADSB signals that are going through an Iranian receiver on their way to FR24 or similar sites, are also subject to alterations by Iran. In fact, given their record of duplicity, I'd treat every ADSB feed coming from Iran as unreliable and highly suspect at best, and a probable fabrication in case of anything weird or dubious. (And a P-3 flying over not just Iranian airspace but also their landmass is fully in that category. A B-2 over Iran, I'd believe it but you wouldn't see it; a P-3 over Iran... doubt!) $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


It is certainly possible, and also happens with some regularity. Here is an article discussing a recent USAF RC-135 flight over the South China Sea in which the RC-135 changed it's Mode S identifier to that of some Malaysian-registered plane.

At some point, the plane’s Mode-S number suddenly changed, from AE01CE to 750548. That’s the ICAO number for an unknown Malaysian aircraft. The RC-135W, call sign RAINY51, then flew a racetrack pattern between Hainan Island and the Paracel Islands, an archipelago in the South China Sea that China claims, but whose ownership is in dispute.


Relevant twitter thread linked in the article, with ADSB Exchange screenshots


RC-135 with disguised Mode-S

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for info. I went back and look at larger screen capture and noticed the P-8 was actually recorded as a MLAT signal source and not ADS-B. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 20:19

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