On Wednesday, 9 August, a CNN article noted the presence of a Russian aircraft in the skies over Washington D.C. conducting low-altitude surveillance. The Tupolev Tu-154 was in the area conducting a standard scheduled overflight as part of the Treaty on Open Skies, of which both the United States and Russia are parties. The aircraft on all Open Skies missions fly unarmed.
The presence of the flight came as no surprise to avgeeks and researchers who regularly track such flights. And while this is the first time the Russians have flown directly over Washington D.C. this year, the Tupolev has been active throughout the rest of the United States, conducting flights over California, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, and Texas, as well as the southeast US on a regular basis.
Important Notes on Tracking RF-85655
- If using the Flightradar24 mobile app (iOS or Android), add RF-85655 as a registration filter as searching for the flight may not always return results due to the non-scheduled nature of the flights
- RF-85655 is tracked via MLAT, so low altitude coverage may be limited in certain areas. For more information about how we track MLAT, see our post here.