Turkey to Perform Open Skies Observation Flight Over Russia

Turkey will perform an observation flight over Russia 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 flight will be performed from March 2 to 6 by a Turkish Air Force’s CASA CN-235 Open Skies observation aircraft operating from the Kubinka airfield. During the flight along the agreed route, Russian specialists on board the observation aircraft will monitor the strict observance of the agreed flight parameters and application of the monitoring equipment stipulated by the contract.

The CN-235 aircraft that will be used for the observation fight belongs to a class of aircraft not intended for the use of any weapons. The aircraft and observation equipment installed on it (aerial cameras) underwent an international certification, in which Russian specialists took part, which precludes the use of technical means not covered by the Treaty.

Turkish Air Force CN-235 Open Skies
Members of a Turkish team flying under the Open Skies Treaty pose next to their CASA CN-235 aircraft, 14 August 2006. (OSCE)

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).

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