MOSCOW, April 18. /TASS/. Groups of Russian inspectors will conduct this week observation flights over the US territory and land inspections in the territory of Bulgaria, Russia’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center reported on Monday with reference to its head Sergei Ryzhkov.
"Within the framework of the implementation of the Treaty on Open Skies a team of Russian inspectors plans to carry out an observation flight on Russia’s Tupolev Tu-154M-LK-1 observation plane over the United States. The observation flight will be performed during the period from April 18 to 23, 2016 from the Open Skies airfield Travis, California. The maximum flight range will be 4,250 kilometers," the statement says.
According to Ryzhkov, the Russian plane will fly on a route agreed with the party under observation, and American experts on board will control the procedure of the use of the observation equipment and compliance with the provisions of the Treaty. "This is the tenth observation flight of the Russian Federation over the territories of the States Parties to the Treaty in 2016," he said.
In addition, in the period from April 18 to 21, a group of Russian inspectors will conduct inspections in Bulgaria. They will visit the military training areas and ranges, will get data on ··the military activity conducted in the specified area, on the formations and military units of the Bulgarian Armed Forces deployed there. "The inspection area will be some 14,000 square kilometers," Ryzhkov said.
Also, the inspectors will visit military exercises planned by Bulgaria during the period from April 19 to 21.
The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in 1992 and has 34 member states. Surveillance flights are conducted over Russia, the United States, Canada and European countries. The key tasks of the treaty are to develop transparency, monitor the fulfillment of armament control agreements, and expand capabilities to prevent crises in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations.
The Treaty on Open Skies (25 signatories, effective January 1, 2002) establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its signatories. The Treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information through aerial imaging on military forces and activities of concern to them. Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international arms control efforts to date to promote openness and transparency in military forces and activities.