MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) - A group of US and Swedish military inspectors is set to fly over Russia and Belarus starting from Monday under the international Open Skies Treaty, a Russian Defense Ministry official said.
“Within the framework of the international Open Skies Treaty, US and Swedish inspectors flying a Boeing OC-135B observation aircraft will perform surveillance flights above the territories of Russia and Belarus in the period between October 14 and 19,” said Sergei Ryzhkov, head of the ministry’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center.
Russian and Belarusian experts will also be on board the aircraft to oversee the proper use of surveillance and filming equipment in line with the treaty’s provisions.
The aircraft’s surveillance equipment has been inspected and certified by international experts, including from Russia. It has no weapons on board.
Ryzhkov also said that a group of Russian military inspectors will conduct surveillance flights over the territories of Great Britain and Northern Ireland between October 14 and 19.
The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and the transparency of military forces and activities. Russia ratified the deal in May 2001.
Under the treaty, each aircraft flying under the Open Skies program is fitted with a sensor suite including optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, thermal infrared imaging sensors, and imaging radar.
The image data recorded during the observation flights can be shared among all signatories to support the monitoring of compliance with existing or future arms control treaties.