Spain confirms Russian observation flight
The Spanish Government has confirmed that Russia conducted an observation flight over southern Spain last week under the Open Skies Treaty.
The flight, first reported by the Chronicle last Saturday, passed close to Gibraltar but did not enter British airspace.
The plane, a Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M, flew over central Spain and then south along the length of the Costa del Sol before cutting inland north of the Rock and over the Strait of Gibraltar up towards Cádiz.
Flying at just over 4,000ft, it then turned inland towards Seville before turning back and heading to Portugal, from where it had taken off in the morning.
The plane's flight path passed over key ports such as Algeciras and came close to major military installations in Spain, including the Rota naval base and the air base at Moron de la Frontera.
According to Spain’s Ministry of Defence, there were 27 Russian military observers on board the flight, which also covered part of the Portuguese coastline.
Spanish and Portuguese personnel were also on the plane to ensure compliance with the provisions of the treaty and inspect the plane and its equipment.
The Spanish MoD released images of the personnel at work on board the plane and said the flight plan had been approved beforehand and subsequently monitored by Spain and Portugal.
The Open Skies Treaty of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its signatories, which include Russia, Spain and Portugal.
The UK is also among the treaty’s 35 signatories and would have been aware of the flight last Friday.
Under the terms of the treaty, governments can conduct carefully-monitored observation flights to promote confidence, predictability, and stability between participating nations.