The flight, which took off from Moscow early Wednesday, appeared to comply with the 1992 Treaty on Open Skies that allows each country to conduct surveillance flights over the other's territory, Politico said. And finally, the Tu-154M allegedly flew over the countryside residence of U.S. leaders in Camp David, Maryland, near the Wright-Patterson air force base in OH and near the Mount Weather emergency operations center in Virginia.
United States Air Force personnel were on the flight and the aircraft is capable of a variety of intelligence gathering, one of the people said.
CNN and Politico reported that besides buzzing over Washington, the Russian Tu-154M plane is due to fly over Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Donald Trump is vacationing, and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.
Dan Gaffney, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said he could not confirm the path of the plane until its mission was over.
But the flight took on special significance Wednesday both because of the audacious flight plan selected by the Russians and because of the flurry of investigations over Russian election interference.
A law enforcement source told CNN that the plane also overflew Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains, the Trump National Golf Course in Virginia, and Mount Weather, one of the U.S. government's secret relocation bunkers. The flights are meant to foster transparency about military activity, reduce mistrust or misunderstandings and help monitor arms control and other agreements.
The Capitol Police issued an alert prior to the flight noting that an "authorized low-altitude aircraft" would be passing over without announcing its origins.
Observation flights by member countries are allowed over the entire territory of other member states.
A US official told ABC News that Russians often fly Open Skies missions over key locations.
"This flight will be monitored by U.S. Capitol Police and other federal government agencies", the alert concluded. Last year Stewart met with the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee and said he would "love" to potentially deny future Russian expeditions in American airspace, according to the Washington Post. In the past, Russian Federation has been accused of unfairly restricting some of its territory from view, in particular, over Chechnya or within 10 kilometers of its border with Georgia, according to the Arms Control Center.