A Russian military aircraft flying under the Open Skies Treaty has made an observation flight over strategic nuclear and chemical weapons storage facilities in the southwestern United States, The Drive has reported, citing FlightRadar24, a real-time air traffic tracking application.
The Tu-214ON's flight, taking it over western Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, saw it fly over Fort Bliss, the White Sands Missile Range, the Pueblo Chemical Depot, Kirtland Air Force Base and the Los Alamos National Laboratories, birthplace of the US nuclear program.
As part of the Treaty on Open Skies, governments conduct scheduled observation flights over military installations in foreign countries. This week, the Russian Air Force is flying over the US for the first time with a Tu-214ON. Follow the current flight at https://t.co/5wCLowVab2 pic.twitter.com/aB4cLR840z— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) April 26, 2019
The plane took off from the Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in Saint Joseph, Missouri on Thursday afternoon and lasted about six hours. It followed a similar flight by a Russian Tu-154M KL-1 in March over US military facilities in California and Nevada, and the flight of a US Air Force Boeing Oc-135 B over Russian military facilities in Siberia and the Russian Far East in February.
The Russian military has not yet commented on the flight.attributed to tensions between Moscow and Washington.
The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 as a confidence building measure in the post-Cold War period. It has been in force since 2002, and allows participating countries to openly collect information on one another's military forces and activities. In addition to Russia and the US, the treaty covers most NATO members, as well as Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia, Sweden and Finland. As a rule, Russia and NATO countries carry out flights on a reciprocal basis.