By Angela Greenwood

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s an unusual sight to see, a Russian surveillance jet on the tarmac of Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield. It was first spotted last week and spent several days in the area.

So why is a Russian spy plane flying over California?

Officials say the jet was flying with permission from the white house. The plane has been flying over some of the nation’s most sensitive military sites, places where even U.S. commercial jets are banned. There is a peaceful purpose to these missions that began in Northern California.

The aircraft is flown as part of the Treaty on Open Skies between the U.S. and Russian Federation, which took effect in 1992. Under the agreement, unarmed military planes from both countries are allowed to fly over each other’s territory.

The Tupolev 154 is equipped with sensitive electro-optical cameras capable of taking high-resolution photos while airborne.

READ: Russian TV Broadcast Reportedly Named McClellan As Nuclear Attack Target

Data from the plane’s transponder shows it flew over Downtown Sacramento on its way to Travis last week. It also flew over other strategic military sites on the west coast including Point Mugu, Coronado Island, Camp Pendleton, 29-Palms, Vandenberg and Edwards Air Force Bases. It even took a trip north of Las Vegas where the Nevada test site and Area 51 are located.

An Air Force spokesperson said the plane was inspected for compliance before it took off from Travis. U.S. observers were also onboard the aircraft to monitor all phases of the flights.

The Air Force has its own version of an open skies surveillance plane, and so far this year, it’s conducted three missions over Russian sites.

These flights were part of Russia’s first mission over the U.S. this year.

The agreement is an effort by both countries to keep an eye on each other’s military assets as new controversies revive some Cold War-era tensions.

There are 32 other nations that are also members of the open skies treaty. The Russian plane took off from Travis AFB on Saturday, which was also the day of the base’s annual airshow.

Comments (21)
  1. They probably also flew over Mar-a-Lago.

  2. It should be noted that both China and North Korea are NOT members of the Open Skies Treaty. It’s interesting the article chose not to cover that bit of critical complementary information, when both China and North Korea have been running MAJOR upgrades to their military programs, including ICBM missile technology and territorial expansion (China creating islands for military airbases in the South China Sea…currently in international waters and airspace.)
    It should be also noted that according to NTI, as of February 2019 there are 35 signatories to the Open Skies Treaty. (note: while Kyrgyzstan has signed the treaty, it had not yet ratified it at the time of the NTI report.)

  3. Dave Fay says:

    Fake news headline meant to scare and shock, over routine flights that have been ongoing for over 26 years.

    1. Sam Jones says:

      Agree with Dave–fake news headline. I also found amusing that the writer of this article managed to inject “with the permission of the white house (sic)”–as if Trump is colluding with Russia and giving them access to our “secret” installations. This has all been negotiated by treaty and we’re getting the same access.
      But don’t worry folks, I’m sure the spaceship at Area 51 was kept hidden during the overflight.

  4. Vernon Bennett says:

    so we are flying over sensitive areas of Russia also?

    1. Jason Chandler says:

      Yes. Absolutely we are flying over. Read the freaking article.

  5. Wellington Abercrombie IV says:

    Putin told Trump that this is OK and to stand down, so no additional actions will be taken.

  6. Dean Davis says:

    I agree with another poster that this is just fake news meant to disparage President Trump. The writer is so bad, s/he couldn’t even capitalize the proper noun ‘White House’.

  7. Jeff Hall says:

    Love the misleading Headline and the “Officials say the jet was flying with permission from the white house” line.. These flights have been doing on for decades – open skies Treaty, and we do the same to Russian sites….

  8. George Montgomery says:

    Fear porn. This is part of the Reagan agreement on nukes with USSR. It’s one of two ways they allowed to verify. The other being satellite. Think about it. Do you think for a moment that the air force doesn’t know the intention of a Russian plane crossing the border and heading over a military base. A stupid attempt to fluff the narrative that Russia the main enemy and Trump is colluding.

  9. Otto Sturhahn says:

    Americans do it over Russia as well.

  10. François-Xavier Harbec says:

    The Nato code of the Tupolev 154 is “Careless”… doesn’t that speak for itself?

  11. Richard Stradler says:

    Russia, Russia, Russia!

  12. Ched Wiggins says:

    This is part of treaty compliance. You get what you inspect, not what you expect. They check us for treaty compliance, and we check them. This is routine. I’m sure this will whip up more Russia hysteria in the low information media audience, however.

  13. Michael Ross says:

    See Trump is still colluding with Russia! We need another investigation now! Trump is a trader, and here is the proof!

  14. Which treasonous president fell for this $hit?

    1. Rob Bruce says:

      Bush, the elder in 1992.

  15. Matthew Clarke says:

    With permission of the White House??!! No, with permission of the Open Skies treaty. Been going on for years. Why deflect this fly over to the White House? To make it seem as if Trump did it? Just more fake news.

  16. s good idea would be to torch

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