Open Skies Flights Begin

Article excerpt

In August, Russia conducted the first observation flights under the Open Skies Treaty since the accord entered into force January 1. Other treaty states-parties, including the United States, are expected to begin their permitted flights, which are designed to allow countries to collect and verify information about each other's military forces, soon as well.

A Russian observation plane flew over the United Kingdom August 8 and over Germany the following week. Although Russia's two August flights marked the first official ones under the accord, treaty signatories started conducting trial flights in 1993, a year after the treaty was signed. For example, the United States conducted 77 total joint flights before the treaty entered into force.

Currently, 26 countries, including former members of the nowdefunct Warsaw Pact and all 19 NATO members, are states-parties to the Open Skies Treaty and can take advantage of the accord's provisions to conduct short-notice, unarmed flights over the entire territory of any other treaty member. Each member is assigned a specific number of flights that it must allow over its territory annually. …