06:09 GMT +321 January 2020
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    The flight was carried out by a Tu-214ON observation plane packed with airborne surveillance tools, panoramic and topographic cameras, airborne radar, and other equipment.

    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.

    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.

    Flights under the Open Skies Treaty were restarted this year following a freeze which began in November 2017, which a Pentagon spokesman 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.


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    Open Skies Agreement, Russia, United States
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