Security

FSB heavyweight(s) in Switzerland(?)

On 31 January, 2017, at 11:40(GMT), AirportWebcams.com tweeted a grainy still(below) of Russia’s Federal Security Service(FSB) Tupolev Tu-214VPU aircraft parked on the Zürich Airport tarmac. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, behind the Russian Tu-214VPU was Azerbaijan Airlines registered Boeing 767-300ER – used by the Azeri government for VIP transport purposes.

VPU acronym stands for Vozdushni Punkt Upravleniya which translates as Airborne Command Post. The aircraft apparently flies FSB’s top brass around the world but would probably become more of an Airborne Command Post in a time of crisis. Its distinctive hump is likely crammed with sophisticated antennae for encrypted communication, sensors and electronic jammers. This particular Tu-214 carries RA-64523 registration and was built by the Kazan Aircraft Production Association(KAPO) under a state contract issued on 8 December, 2011. It supposedly cost 2.7 billion rubles ($90 million using the 2011 exchange rate). RA-64523 made its maiden flight in September 25, 2013 and was transferred over to the FSB in November of the same year. In keeping with tradition of its predecessor – the KGB, FSB’s Tu-214 sports somewhat peculiar Aeroflot-esque livery without any official markings, except for the Russian tri-colour.

Earlier this evening, website of a Swiss tabloid – 20 Minuten, published an article about the mystery “spy plane” stating that it has taken-off from the Zürich(Kloten) Airport at about 17:00(GMT) today and that “the purpose of its visit was unclear”. An unnamed airport official said that Tu-214VPU had “diplomatic clearance”. The article further states that “several limousines with eight people onboard” were seen approaching parked RA-64523 prior to its departure from Kloten.

Main mage: Mario Schmidy Schmid – LSZH Spotter © 2017 via twitter.com/Schmidy_87

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