A Russian spy plane reportedly flew over Chicago on Aug. 13 at a high altitude, according to a local news report.
The plane, a Tupolev jet, departed from Dayton, Ohio, and went to Great Falls, Montana, as part of the Treaty on Open Skies program, WGN-TV reported. The treaty allows nations to carry out pre-arranged surveillance flights over each other’s territory.
The planes are unarmed but carry surveillance and monitoring equipment.
When the plane flew over Chicago, it flew at about 36,000 feet, according to the report.
Naval Station Great Lakes is located near the route where the plane flew. It is the largest training installation and is home to the Navy’s only Boot Camp.
A Russian military spokesperson said, “U.S. specialists on board will monitor the use of surveillance equipment and compliance with the provisions of the agreement.”
An aviation expert said that the Russian spy plane’s excursion over Chicago may have been due to weather.
“It may have been avoiding storms,” said Ian Petchenik of FlightRadar24, according to the broadcaster.
Moscow has also used the treaty at military sites along the East Coast.
In February, a U.S. Air Force spy plane partook in an observation flight over Russia.
“The treaty lays out standards for aircraft used for observation flights. Aircraft may be equipped with four types of sensors: optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, infra-red line-scanning devices, and sideways-looking synthetic aperture radar. For the first three full years after the treaty entered into force, the observation aircraft had to be equipped with at least a single panoramic camera or a pair of optical framing cameras. The states-parties may now agree on outfitting the observation planes with additional sensors,” says the Arms Control Association on its website about the treaty.
Russian Plane Flies Over Area 51
A Russian aircraft flew over Area 51 in southern Nevada as part of the Open Skies Treaty, according to a report in April.
The Drive reported that a Tu-154M was captured flying over several military bases in the western United States, including the infamous Area 51. The flight occurred on March 28, starting at Travis Air Force Base in California.
Next, the plane flew over Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, Fort Irwin National Training Center in San Bernardino County, and Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, The Drive reported, citing FlightRadar24 data.
The Russian plane then went to Yucca Flat, a nuclear test site.
“It then headed over the pockmarked Nevada Test Site. Area 51 sits just to the east of this location. The aircraft’s panoramic cameras can collect fairly wide swathes of imagery along the Open Skies aircraft’s flight path,” The Drive reported.
Near the Nevada Test Site is Area 51, located to the east. The plane’s aircraft is able to gather a large area of images along the flight path.
Later, it flew to the Tonopah Test Range before going to Salt Lake, Utah.
The plane then went back to Great Falls, Montana, which has an international airport, reported KRTV. The crew left the United States over the weekend.
The United States already flew several Open Skies sorties over Russia last month, Air Force Magazine reported.
The Open Skies Treaty went into effect during January 2002 and includes 34 party states.
Area 51 is a U.S. Air Force facility in a remote area within the Nevada Test and Training Range. The base’s purpose is currently unknown.
The CIA declassified a 400-page document in 2017 about the secret facility.