Russia is conducting observation flights over Germany under the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies from March 2, according to Sergey Ryzhkov, the head of the Russian National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center.
The observation flights are being be carried out on a Russian An-30B observation plane from the Cologne Bonn Airport. The maximum flight range will amount to 1,300 km. The observation flights will last until March 6.
The Russian surveillance aircraft will fly along the route agreed with the observed party, and German specialists on board will monitor the use of surveillance equipment and compliance with the provisions stipulated by the Agreement.
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 34 participants.
Aerial reconnaissance flights on the basis of the Open Skies Treaty are conducted in order to verify that the arms control agreements in force are respected by the overflown country. The flights can be carried out over the whole territory of the country with the only exception is for flight safety reasons (i.e, not for reasons of national security).
Open Skies missions consist of Active Observation Missions, known as AOMs, which are the number of flights each party has the right to conduct, and Passive Observation Missions, which are the number of flights each party is obliged to accept.
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.
The “Open Skies” certified aircraft vary for each state party and include the Boeing OC-135B Open Skies (U.S.), Lockheed C-130 Hercules (Canada and France), CASA CN-235 (Turkey), Antonov An-26 (Hungary), Saab 340/OS-100 (Sweden), Antonov An-30B (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Russia), and Tupolev Tu-154M/LK1 (Russia).