Russia plans to conduct observation flights over the territory of the Estonia within the framework of the implementation of an international treaty on the Open Skies, according to Sergei Ryzhkov, head of the National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center.
The observation flights will be carried out from 27 to 31 May 2019 by a Russian An-30B observation aircraft taking off from the Tartu Open Skies airfield. The maximum flight range will amount to 800 km.
The Russian observation aircraft will fly along the agreed route, and the Estonian specialists on board will monitor the use of special equipment and compliance with the provisions of the Treaty on Open Skies.
Observation flights within the framework of the treaty are carried out in order to promote greater openness and transparency in the military activities of the participating States, as well as to enhance security through strengthening confidence-building measures.
The Treaty on Open Skies, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. It currently has 34 party states.
The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.
The 34 state parties to the Open Skies Treaty are: Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland), Estonia, Finland, France, the Republic of Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Kyrgyzstan has signed the treaty but has not yet ratified it.
Russia uses Antonov An-30 and Tu-154M-ON monitoring aircraft for their observation flights. Russia is phasing out both An-30 and Tu-154M-ON and replacing them with two Tu-214ON with the registrations RA-64519 and RA-64525; though this aircraft’s new sensor suite is currently being challenged by the USA.