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Fri, Aug 11, 2017

Unarmed Russian AF Plane Overflies Washington, D.C.

Flights Allowed Under The Treaty On Open Skies

An unarmed Russian Air Force aircraft took a low-altitude trip over Washington, D.C. Wednesday, but it didn't cause any U.S. aircraft to be scrambled.

The flight of the Russian Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft is allowed under the Treaty On Open Skies. The longstanding treaty allows military aircraft from the 34 signatory countries to conduct aerial observation sorties and observe military installations.

CNN reports that the flight Wednesday had the Tu-154 flying over downtown Washington and Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to the report. It also passed over CIA headquarters, and the Pentagon at about 3,700 feet. It also passed over Camp David and Mount Weather, one of the U.S. Government's relocation bunkers in Virginia according to local law enforcement sources.

A flight was also planned Wednesday over Bedminster, NJ where President Trump is vacationing.

The Treaty On Open Skies went into effect in 2002, according to the report. Since then, more than 1.200 such flight have been conducted. The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency told CNN that the flights contribute to verification of compliance with arms control agreements.

The Russian aircraft reportedly had the capability to conduct aerial photography, thermal imaging and collection of signals intelligence. The treaty flights are relatively common, according to the report, however, the high profile of the overflight areas made this week's flight notable. The flights are closely coordinated with the FAA.

U.S. Capitol Police sent out an alert prior to the flights, saying "The aircraft will be large and may fly directly over the US Capitol. This flight will be monitored by the US Capitol Police Command Center and other federal government agencies." It did not mention that the airplane was Russian.

(Image of similar Russian AF Tu-154 from YouTube video posted by user Plane Spotting TV)

FMI: www.state.gov/t/avc/cca/os/

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