Russian jet performs low-level observation flight over White House, Pentagon and CIA

Aircraft also flew over Bedminster, New Jersey, where Donald Trump is currently on a 17-day break

Tom Batchelor
Thursday 10 August 2017 12:15 BST
Russian Air Force jet flies over Capitol building

A Russian Air Force jet performed a low-level observation flight over Washington on Wednesday in a surveillance mission approved by US officials.

The un-armed plane flew over the White House, Pentagon and CIA headquarters. Defence officials said the exact route the aircraft took could only be confirmed after the mission had been completed.

The flypast, between 11am and 3pm on Wednesday, was permitted under the long-standing Open Skies Treaty, which attempts to foster transparency about military activity as well as help monitor arms control.

US Capitol Police, the force tasked with protesting Congress, gave advance warning of an "authorised low-altitude aircraft" that would enter airspace over Washington.

"The aircraft will be large and may fly directly over the US Capitol," the statement said. "This flight will be monitored by the US Capitol Police command centre and other federal government agencies."

The Tu-154M jet also flew over the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, which serve as the main base of the President’s Air Force One jumbo-jet.

It then tracked north to fly over Bedminster, New Jersey, where Donald Trump is currently on a 17-day break.

The Russian jet also observed the Presidential compound at Camp David, Maryland, the Wright-Patterson air force base in Ohio and the Mount Weather emergency operations centre in Virginia.

"The United States is notified ahead of time of the intended flight path of observation flights, participates in the development of agreed flight plans, has US observers on the aircraft during the flight, and receives a copy of the imagery taken by the Russian aircraft at the conclusion of the mission," a spokeswoman for the US State Department told the Russian news agency, Tass.

"The Treaty does not preclude an observed State Party from taking mitigation measures at sensitive sites on the ground."

In May, Russia performed similar flights over the UK under the international Treaty on Open Skies.

An Antonov An-30B flew from Brize Norton in Oxford with RAF personnel on board, following a flight plan pre-approved by the Ministry of Defence and Royal Air Force.

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