Military Review

"Open sky" is closed


Tu-154M LK-1 observation aircraft after modernization, 2016 Photo by Wikimedia Commons

May 21, the United States announced the withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty (DON). As a result, third-country surveillance aircraft will not be able to conduct observation flights over American objects - and thereby disturb Washington. It should be recalled that the observation aircraft of the Russian side were really unnerving to the American leadership and even criticized.

Top Secret Golf

An official statement on leaving DON was made by Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Robert O'Brien. He said that during observation flights, the Russian mission tried to monitor the head of state. Routes ran alongside the White House, Camp David's residence and Bedminster Golf Club. Trying to keep an eye on Donald Trump, Russia used DON inappropriately.

Such implementation of the terms of an international agreement threatens US national security. Therefore, they intend to withdraw from DON; all necessary procedures will take six months. Thus, the Treaty will be left without one of the key parties, and other countries will lose the ability to conduct inspections.

Open air planes

Russia was one of the first to sign the Don in 1992. Soon, our country began organizing its observation flights, and also opened its skies to foreign inspectors. In preparation for future departures, several aircraft with special equipment were prepared. Due to different tasks, different platforms were used.

"Open sky" is closed
RONSAR radar. Photo Research Institute "Pendant" /

For flights over European countries on relatively short routes, an observation plane was prepared on the basis of the An-30B serial reconnaissance aircraft. Longer routes over the United States were to be served by an aircraft with different characteristics. The Tu-154ON project was developed on the basis of a passenger aircraft; it was implemented by re-equipping the Tu-154M LK-1 flying laboratory (RF-85655). He completed his first flight over North America in 2000.

In 2011, the first flight was made by the Tu-214ON (RA-64519) aircraft with new-generation equipment. At the end of 2013, the second instance of this type, RA-64525, began service. The planes were intended to fly over the United States, but the American side refused permission. Reconnaissance equipment with characteristics exceeding the requirements of DON, as well as the alleged presence of certain undocumented capabilities, became a formal reason.

As a result, for several years the observation was carried out using the old Tu-154M LK-1 (Tu-154ON). The international certification of the Tu-214ON was only possible in 2018, and the first flight over the United States took place in April 2019. Obviously, new flights of this kind should now not be expected. However, modern technology may find application in inspections in other countries participating in DON.

Reasons for concern

Both in the past and now, official allegations from the United States affect the characteristics of the target equipment of Russian surveillance aircraft. Consider what the Tu-154M LK-1 and Tu-214ON can do, and why Washington considers them a cause for concern.

One of the new Tu-214ON. Photo by PJSC Tupolev /

The Tu-154M LK-1 in the initial configuration carried a complex of four AFA-41/10, A-84OP, AK-111 and AK-112 cameras with different characteristics that can be shot simultaneously. A high-resolution video camera, infrared and ultraviolet equipment were also installed. The most important element of the target equipment is a side-scan radar with a synthetic aperture RONSAR. This product was created specifically for open skies and provides an overview of the strip up to 25 km wide.

Flight performance of the Tu-154M LK-1 remained at the level of the basic general purpose model. At the same time, it is possible to shoot the underlying terrain in different spectra, as well as to collect radar information.

At the beginning of the last decade, a modernized complex of surveillance equipment based on modern digital components was created. In particular, the photo equipment was partially replaced with new digital cameras. the capabilities of computing systems and information storage facilities have drastically improved. The new project provided for the modernization of the Tu-154M LK-1; some new units could be used to upgrade the An-30B.

On the bottom of the fuselage, fairings of special equipment are noticeable. Photo by PJSC Tupolev /

In 2016, the upgraded “digital” Tu-154M LK-1 passed certification and got the opportunity to work in the airspace of the countries participating in the Don. In the future, he was repeatedly involved in flights over different countries, primarily over the United States.

Contemporary pattern

The newest Russian model for the "open sky" is the Tu-214ON - there are two cars of this type, built in 2011-13. The basis for such an aircraft was the Tu-204 airliner, in the passenger cabin of which new equipment was placed, as well as the workplaces of operators and observers. The modern equipment for the aircraft was developed by the Vega Concern.

On the Tu-214ON for the first time in stories DON is installed a full range of various observational equipment authorized for use. The aircraft received A-840N, AK-111 and AK-112 cameras for various purposes with interchangeable lenses, as well as three digital video cameras. There is an infrared scanning device. Digital cameras provide shooting with a resolution of up to 30 cm, infrared - up to 50 cm. Saved RONSAR radar, used on the Tu-154ON. All surveillance tools are integrated in the on-board digital computer complex with five automated workstations of operators.

American surveillance aircraft OC-135B. Photo US Air Force

To work with the Tu-214ON aircraft, a new set of ground-based facilities has been created for collecting and processing information. A training complex for training operators has also been built.

Foreign counterpart

The United States has only three open skies. These are OS-135V Open Skies vehicles based on WC-135V scouts. In real flights, only two planes are used, while the third performs the tasks of an experienced one for working out certain solutions. In addition, there is a limited operational readiness associated with the great age of technology - aircraft were built back in the early sixties.

The OC-135B carries three KS-87E cameras with different angles and a panoramic KA-91C. There is a side-view radar AN / UPD-8. Data collection from all funds is carried out by the DARMS complex. The received information can be displayed on the monitors of operators, and also recorded for further analysis on the ground.

Open Skies aircraft received a certificate for participation in DON flights in 2002, and have since been regularly recruited to work. Due to the considerable age, this equipment is faced with various problems and is idle for repair part of the time. However, its modernization or replacement has not yet been envisaged. Now, in connection with the withdrawal from the contract, these measures do not make any sense.

Technology Perspective

Unlike the United States, Russia is not going to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. The same position is shared by its other participants. For this reason, they will continue to organize and carry out observation flights. As a result of this, the fate of the Russian aircraft for aviation surveillance is obvious. They will continue to serve.

Probably, the farewell ceremony awaits the Open Skies aircraft soon. Photo US Air Force

Now there are several An-30B aircraft in service, which have recently undergone modernization, the updated Tu-154M LK-1 and two modern Tu-214ON. All this equipment meets all the requirements and can be used for many years. It is unlikely that she will now have to fly over the United States, but other countries will provide air corridors for observation.

The prospects for the American OC-135B do not give cause for optimism. The aircraft built in the sixties are approaching the final development of the resource, and their operation is a separate problem. Now, Washington has decided to withdraw from the Don - and this determines the fate of the aircraft. Apparently, after completion of the procedures for withdrawing from the Agreement, unnecessary cars will be sent for disassembly. However, the most successful example can go to the museum.

In general, despite the loss of a key participant, the Open Skies Treaty remains in force - and the operation associated with it continues aviation technicians. Existing plans and schedules will be changed, but flights will continue. The Russian Tu-154M LK-1 and Tu-214ON will now fly only over Europe, and the American President’s golf club can no longer fear surveillance.
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  1. Hunter 2
    Hunter 2 2 June 2020 12: 02
    Well, here’s another contract - he ordered “to live long”!
    The security system, with such difficulty created at one time ... is almost completely destroyed. All this is sad!
    Russia needs to withdraw from the treaty after the United States, which will continue to receive data through the gay ...
    1. Kart
      Kart 2 June 2020 12: 12
      Maybe you can only ban for the United States, since they do not want to.?
      The rest of the countries seem to be needed, especially if they are on our borders.
      1. Tatyana
        Tatyana 2 June 2020 14: 43
        The fact that Washington, in the end, the first to leave the DON was quite expected. Namely.

        Washington, in its PROXY war against the USSR / Russia, has implemented and is implementing its PROXY strategy "Anaconda".
        At the same time, the USA tried and is trying to defeat the USSR / RF without any RESPONSE blow from the USSR / RF to the economy and the territory of the USA itself.

        Anaconda Ring: Reich IV Strategy. Posted: • Aug 4 2016 year
      2. Polente the Wanderer
        Polente the Wanderer 2 June 2020 15: 44
        NATO without the US is nothing. But without NATO, the EU cannot oppose itself to anything.
        All data through the structures of NATO and EU countries will go to the Pentagon.
        Do not withdraw from the contract to secure nearby borders?
        But Japan, Cyprus, for example, are not parties to the treaty. And US bases are located in Japan and in those countries where they want to locate them. The UK bases (Yankee servants) in Cyprus. Georgia has withdrawn from the treaty.
    2. iouris
      iouris 2 June 2020 12: 34
      Quote: Hunter 2
      Well, here’s another contract - he ordered “to live long”!

      Well, live: happily ever after.
      1. iouris
        iouris 2 June 2020 22: 25
        When I was a little television and the contracts that Donald Nash Trump vomits were not. And nothing: bread was spike, fish was in the river ...
    3. Valery Valery
      Valery Valery 2 June 2020 12: 34
      Probably, it is necessary to explain one point that is not voiced during the discussion of DON.
      Like everything related to international cooperation, the Don, in addition to monitoring military activities, allowed it to perform another function. Airplanes carrying out overflights carried out hulking in order to form digital maps for long-range cruise missile guidance systems. Until recently, there was one such missile in the world - the Tomahawk. And now Caliber has appeared ..... Now DON has become unnecessary for Americans.
      1. neri73-r
        neri73-r 2 June 2020 13: 42
        Quote: Valery Valery
        Airplanes carrying out overflights carried out hulking in order to form digital maps for long-range cruise missile guidance systems.

        Map from space, as an option. hi

        long-range cruise missiles. Until recently, there was one such missile in the world - the Tomahawk.

        Where did you divide our rockets? X-55?
    4. Tugarin
      Tugarin 2 June 2020 12: 49
      Russia needs to withdraw from the treaty after the United States, which will continue to receive data through the gay people.

      Well, we are playing the role of a "good-natured guy" repeat Just to not play too much.
  2. Sergei 777
    Sergei 777 2 June 2020 12: 07
    Existing plans and schedules will be changed, but flights will continue. Russian Tu-154M LK-1 and Tu-214ON will now fly only over Europe,
    And Europe over Russia and transmit US data? Then you need to ban the flights of European countries over the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.
    1. Kurare
      Kurare 2 June 2020 13: 19
      Quote: Sergey 777
      Then you need to ban the flights of European countries over the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

      good I wanted to suggest the same thing. No flights except over the European territory of Russia and additionally exclude flights over the Urals and the Kaliningrad region. Prohibit the use of US-made intelligence components. Also, exclude the possibility of flights of Ukrainians, they have nothing to do over the territory of the "aggressor".
    2. Avior
      Avior 2 June 2020 13: 56
      it is necessary to ban flights of European countries over the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

      The Don also includes Canada.
    3. ccsr
      ccsr 2 June 2020 14: 06
      Quote: Sergey 777
      Then you need to ban the flights of European countries over the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

      We need to withdraw from this Treaty altogether, because it was not in our interests from the very beginning.
      We already did something stupid when we allowed Americans to fly to their bases in Central Asia and transport their cargo through our territory, it’s good that now we will be forced to refuse all Western countries to fly over our country. I hope we find people who will convince our sovereign that we will only benefit from this.
  3. vadimtt
    vadimtt 2 June 2020 12: 12
    Something is somehow asymmetric. NATO will continue to fly over Russia, but we cannot over America.
  4. The comment was deleted.
  5. K-50
    K-50 2 June 2020 12: 47
    In general, then what is the point of such a treaty?
    If the pin dos don’t let us in, then we don’t need to let anyone in at all, otherwise the same NATO members will calmly pass all the information on the pin pin flights, but nobody will give us the info and pin dos donors.
    So, so that there is no such thing that they know about us, and we are nothing, it is worth completely closing the sky from such "negotiators".
    Nobody has canceled satellite reconnaissance yet.
    Finally, that nonsense that "spied on and spied on the president" is just complete and senile.
    If excursions are conducted to the White House in Fashington, you can stop in cars and just walk by, then why the hell do you need to "spy" from an airplane. HE simply does not fit in my head. One thought, pin boards were scored on everything and all of us with HE should be sent on a "distant forest hike", on foot and without bread! am
    1. aleks26
      aleks26 2 June 2020 13: 31
      Quote: K-50
      In general, then what is the point of such a treaty?

      Well, probably the situation in Europe (and digital maps of Europe) of Russia is interesting no less than the US theater.
  6. Pavel57
    Pavel57 2 June 2020 12: 55
    But is NATO a European country? Where will we let the scouts go now?
  7. DWG1905
    DWG1905 2 June 2020 13: 11
    Dear Comrade If you do not know the author, do not write. The first on-board numbers of Tu-214ON aircraft with RF 64519, RF 64525. RF and not RA, i.e. aircraft are registered in the state aviation registry. And the fact that in the photos on the 19th RA car, so it was confused at the factory a long time ago. The second equipment for the development of the Vega concern along with the side-scan locator has long been gone; With the new equipment, the aircraft passed an international survey. I think the composition on the Internet can be found I will not prompt. The Tu-214ON aircraft was not created on the basis of the Tu-204, but it is probably more correct to say by re-equipping the Tu-214 aircraft. It, of course, is said to be Tu-204/214 type aircraft, but these are somewhat different machines, were / are being manufactured at different plants. You don’t have to believe everything that is written on the Internet, sometimes it’s disinfectly gently leading to the side, if someone wrote something, then he probably needed it. Since the Open Skies agreement is international, you can find the information and double-check it ten times before publishing it if you wish.
    1. aviator6768
      aviator6768 4 June 2020 23: 51
      well, the author confused there a little ... What is so captious? "cabins" are different for everyone ... there was such a bike - at the LII the "old men" hounded - "The navigator sat in a small carcass, well, they switched on, they steer, take off, etc. - the fan is running, already tired. but he doesn't know where the toggle switch is to turn off (another cabin is new, old, it doesn't matter). So he stopped the blades with his hands (they are rubber) - and cut them off with a penknife ... "And you say -" modifications ..., "inconsistencies ... "
  8. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 2 June 2020 13: 15
    The only thing is that bad-NATO countries will always exchange information with the United States ... and the United States itself has a fleet of good satellites .....
  9. Pvi1206
    Pvi1206 2 June 2020 13: 44
    The United States has something to hide ... they do not comply with the signed treaties ... they refused ...
  10. Avior
    Avior 2 June 2020 13: 51
    The Don includes 35 countries, including NATO almost in full force, Finland, Ukraine.
    So the USA does not lose anything from the exit, they will have information.
    By the way, Belarus is also included, like Kazakhstan, but it does not give anything, they will not fly over the States anyway.
    Among the reasons for the exit, the States call
    The United States accuses Russia of violating the Treaty by banning flights 10 km from the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as restricting flights over the Kaliningrad region. Russia is also accused of “abusing the Treaty to collect data on critical US infrastructure.” It is on these charges that the draft law on withdrawal from the Treaty, submitted on October 30, 2019 to the Senate, is built [14].

    On May 21, 2020, the US administration announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty in six months [15]. US Assistant to the President for National Security Robert O'Brien said that Russia, under the Open Skies Treaty, followed US President Donald Trump. According to him, representatives of the country flew over the White House, as well as over the Trump Golf Club. “They flew over the White House, they flew over civilian infrastructure, they tracked where the president might be: Camp David or Bedminster (residence and golf club - approx.). So they misused the treaty, ”O'Brien said. [16]

    On the one hand, logically, Russia needs to go out, and on the other hand, flights over NATO will be interrupted.
    And to use Belarus for this purpose, putting it equipment for DON planes or aircraft for rent, for example, Lukashenko will have an extra trump card in disputes with the Kremlin.
    And as for Kazakhstan, I'm not at all sure what will be shared.
  11. xomaNN
    xomaNN 2 June 2020 14: 15
    The big question is how profitable it is for the Russian Federation to remain in the DON without any preferences. We can only "iron" over Europe, and NATO and the computer. over all of Russia? Because The United States is in NATO, then they get all the data about the Russian Federation directly. With the complete closedness of the Yankee territory.

    If, again, the Russian Foreign Ministry prefers to make do with just statements that "uncle is byaka"? Then I will remember the times when Shevardnadze and Kozyrev, at the suggestion of Messrs. G. and E., "surrendered" the USSR.
  12. DWG1905
    DWG1905 2 June 2020 14: 35
    Yes, America is not very interesting to us (there are enough satellites), especially since Canada will probably remain. In the US, so far I think land databases are not planned (although due to the mess in the states, who knows what to do with their nuclear weapons in case of what?). We are more interested in what is being done at our borders, but Europe will remain, our Iskanders and tank armies seem to them.
  13. IL-64
    IL-64 2 June 2020 18: 07
    I wonder what prevents NATO members from sharing the results of inspections of Russian territory with the United States? Shouldn't NATO members be "bound" with obligations not to transfer the results of inspections of Russian territory to the United States?
  14. Nitarius
    Nitarius 3 June 2020 06: 39
    Well, we know better .. if they would like to fight with Europe ... then I think that we would have already left it a long time ago!
  15. Free wind
    Free wind 3 June 2020 17: 03
    Well, before December they will fly, and there they will see.
  16. Petrol cutter
    Petrol cutter 5 June 2020 21: 39
    Taki closed?! ..
    Here the thing is ... To a certain extent, this is bad (but how was this all going) why should I be surprised? In the same time. It happened, what happened. And enemy airplanes do not have the right to fly here. And this is rather good than bad.