Open Skies Treaty

Ritch

LE
Here's an article from the BBC on the Open Skies treaty.


"Last February, a four-engined US OC-135B aircraft - a variant of the old Stratolifter military transport plane - lumbered into the air to conduct a surveillance flight over Russia.

Among those on board were six Russian officials to ensure fair-play. It was all part of a little-known agreement - the Open Skies Treaty - that since entering into force in 2002 has enabled unarmed reconnaissance flights over Russia, the United States and several other countries to improve confidence and assure against surprise attack."


I've heard of the treaty before but didn't know what happened and how the process goes.

Trump is on about cutting the treaty but would this really be a negative thing these days with satellite coverage?
 
Here's an article from the BBC on the Open Skies treaty.


"Last February, a four-engined US OC-135B aircraft - a variant of the old Stratolifter military transport plane - lumbered into the air to conduct a surveillance flight over Russia.

Among those on board were six Russian officials to ensure fair-play. It was all part of a little-known agreement - the Open Skies Treaty - that since entering into force in 2002 has enabled unarmed reconnaissance flights over Russia, the United States and several other countries to improve confidence and assure against surprise attack."


I've heard of the treaty before but didn't know what happened and how the process goes.

Trump is on about cutting the treaty but would this really be a negative thing these days with satellite coverage?
He'll do what Vlad tells him to do.

End of story.
 
Given the satellite coverage it would seem to be an outdated lip service to and old treaty whose time was done decades ago.
 

Ritch

LE
I know it says in the article that the Open Skies treaty allows planes to fly over certain areas quicker than re-tasking a satellite but I can't really imagine these flights actually picking much up these days.

@Magic_Mushroom - your thoughts?
 
Satellites are entirely predictable; aeroplanes are not.

While some prior notice has to be provided, OPEN SKIES sorties still perform a very useful function and are a critical confidence building measure. Moreover, the laws of physics mean that some information can be derived - even given the sensor limitations - which is not available from Space and stand-off assets.

Regards,
MM
 

Ritch

LE
Satellites are entirely predictable; aeroplanes are not.

While some prior notice has to be provided, OPEN SKIES sorties still perform a very useful function and are a critical confidence building measure. Moreover, the laws of physics mean that some information can be derived - even given the sensor limitations - which is not available from Space and stand-off assets.

Regards,
MM
Fair enough. I guess the orange, small-handed lunatic is in real danger of upsetting the balance in this particular area if he has actually signed the notice to withdraw from Open Skies.
 
Fair enough. I guess the orange, small-handed lunatic is in real danger of upsetting the balance in this particular area if he has actually signed the notice to withdraw from Open Skies.
I wouldn't say withdrawal from OS would be catastrophic. However, it would undeniably deny a VERY valuable source of information, insight and confidence.

Regards,
MM
 
I know it says in the article that the Open Skies treaty allows planes to fly over certain areas quicker than re-tasking a satellite but I can't really imagine these flights actually picking much up these days.

@Magic_Mushroom - your thoughts?
I recall one overflying the garrison where I was stationed about five years ago. The alert was sent via the primary C4IS system to give everyone a ‘heads up’ (don’t). Take any ‘sensitive’ kit inside and if not needed, turn it off.

The Russian kit can pick up ELINT etc. which is all part of the picture they build up.
 
And there there was OP REBECCA and EX HENLEY, about checking aircraft and helicopter numbers, AFVs etc. I recall one site I was at in the mid 1990s, the SOVS the Russians (with the obligatory enormous hats) were much more interested in going shopping in Birmingham, than measuring the width of garage doors and asking them to be opened for inspection - in case we were hiding TLE there (width under 2m, they were told to foxtrot oscar). Christ knows why Birmingham, but compared with what the State-owned GUM department store could offer in Smolensk, Brum would have been a consumerist Nirvana.
 
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Trump is on about cutting the treaty but would this really be a negative thing these days with satellite coverage?
I would say that it is only of symbolic rather than any strategic importance.

A bit like exercising military rights of access in Berlin under the old four power agreement.
 
D

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I wouldn't say withdrawal from OS would be catastrophic. However, it would undeniably deny a VERY valuable source of information, insight and confidence.

Regards,
MM
The problem is that the Russians have restricted certain parts of their airspace to our flights and we have done the same.
Just like their personal will never be allowed in the 20th Airforce HQ.
 
Satellites are entirely predictable; aeroplanes are not.

While some prior notice has to be provided, OPEN SKIES sorties still perform a very useful function and are a critical confidence building measure. Moreover, the laws of physics mean that some information can be derived - even given the sensor limitations - which is not available from Space and stand-off assets.

Regards,
MM
isn’t much of the intregue about the X37 space plane that it’s entirely that - unpredictable, it can change its orbit patterns etc, and after nearly two years in orbit something the Americans appear to have pretty much perfected now.
 
I've been following this story for a few weeks now trying to disseminate the political spin and figure out the real reason for the pullout. It appears to me that the U.S are pulling out because the Russian technology is about 5 years ahead of the State due to a lack of funding.

Here is an opinion from both sides of the agreement from: BNN Bloomberg the full article is a good read.

The Open Skies Treaty of 1992 isn’t a major arms-control agreement. But the Donald Trump administration’s reported intention to exit it is, in a way, a more troubling sign than its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty last year. If the U.S. abandons the pact, it and Russia will be blind to each other’s military deployments, giving paranoid generals a new reason to jump at shadows.

Doesn’t satellite photography, even the unclassified, commercial kind, provide surveillance capabilities on par with plane overflights using the most cutting-edge equipment? Can’t the U.S., and, for that matter, Russia see every square inch of each other’s territory from space?

The answer is “mostly but not quite.” the area around Moscow, for example, has too much cloud cover for satellite photos to be useful, while an Open Skies surveillance plane can fly below the clouds, just 1,000 meters above ground. Besides, planes “enjoy much more flexibility in choosing flight paths,” “The three to four days’ warning that observed countries get before a satellite overpass gives them ample time to move military assets. Treaty flights provide only 24 hours’ notice, increasing the odds that overflights capture an accurate assessment. Planes can also double back to provide a more comprehensive set of images than fixed-orbit satellites can.”

It would be downright stupid for the U.S. to miss a military buildup on Russia’s western border because of bad weather. That’s one reason Ukraine has asked the U.S. not to withdraw from the treaty.
 

Ritch

LE
isn’t much of the intregue about the X37 space plane that it’s entirely that - unpredictable, it can change its orbit patterns etc, and after nearly two years in orbit something the Americans appear to have pretty much perfected now.
You're right. An amateur managed to capture it with his telescope, in a Low Earth Orbit and when he went back the next night to try and find it on it's trajectory, he found it had changed completely.
 
...The Russian kit can pick up ELINT etc. which is all part of the picture they build up.
Not officially it doesn’t.

The OS Treaty allows aircraft to be equipped only with the following 4 types of sensors:

- Optical panoramic and framing cameras.
- Video cameras with real-time display.
- Infra-red linescan.
- Synthetic Aperture Radar.

Additional sensors can be added by mutual consent but all of the above must be commercially available systems. Moreover, ‘host nation’ personnel fly on-board during sorties and have the right to inspect the aircraft so addition of a sophisticated SIGINT system would be challenging to say the least. Nevertheless, it is generally assumed that some ‘add-ons’ may be hidden somewhere on board!

The problem is that the Russians have restricted certain parts of their airspace to our flights and we have done the same.
Just like their personal will never be allowed in the 20th Airforce HQ.
Unfortunately, withdrawal means that you’ve just denied the rest of the airspace to yourselves While setting a poor example to other nations.

isn’t much of the intregue about the X37 space plane that it’s entirely that - unpredictable, it can change its orbit patterns etc, and after nearly two years in orbit something the Americans appear to have pretty much perfected now.
The X-37B is manoeuvrable to an extent but this still uses fuel and/or degrades other missions (particularly I would imagine when manoeuvring via atmospheric drag/skips); Space assets are also limited in higher latitudes. Ultimately, Space vehicles are far more predictable than aircraft and that brings a value all of their own.

There’s also the minor point that even the USAF only has 2 X-37Bs of which one is normally in turnaround; right now, none are in orbit.

These days, the US (or Russia) is not about to miss an arms build up on a border region irrespective of weather as they have a number of SAR/GMTI assets (‘air-breathing’ and Space-based) which can cut through the overcast.

Nevertheless, OS aircraft can and has provided critical information on a number of occasions. In addition, if the Treaty as a whole collapses due to the example set by Russia and the US, many nations do not have access to alternative reassurance and trust-building measures.

Ultimately, that makes the World a more dangerous place.

Regards,
MM
 

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