MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - A group of military inspectors from Germany and Latvia is set to fly above 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, German and Latvian inspectors flying a Swedish SAAB-340 observation aircraft will perform surveillance flights above the territories of Russia and Belarus in the period between October 21 and 25,” Sergei Ryzhkov, the head of the ministry’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, said.
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 was inspected and certified by international experts, including from Russia. It has no weapons on board.
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.