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Open Skies - yet another Capability gap?

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Open Skies - yet another Capability gap?

Old 12th Aug 2015, 07:56
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Open Skies - yet another Capability gap?

In the Press at the moment in both the UK and USA is hype associated with the 'Open Skies' treaty. i.e. shock, horror, Russian Antonov is based at BZN and permitted to overfly the UK taking photographs.

This prompted me to question how we do reciprocal flights these days having long since retired the last Andover. Rivet Joint or even King Air was my expectation.

What a surprise then to find we ride shotgun on a Swedish Air Force Saab as indeed so do the Germans. Now Open Skies is s much to do with politics as maintenance of a military status quoe. Our involvement with a non-NATO third party nation surely sends a message of nonchallence towards the treaty. Is this because satellite imagery is such that Open Skies in the traditional sense is outdated? ..or is the message that the UK is engaged in austerity to the point that Open Skies is not financially sustainable insofar as not representing value for money.

As Typhoon QRA is also almost daily news, one would have thought that the UK Open Skies responsibility would be a little more overt. The natural successor to Andover would have been a BAe 146 of 32 Sqn, and one wonders why such a machine was never introduced into service.
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Old 12th Aug 2015, 09:02
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Its been looked at but the low number of flights required per year, the vastly cheaper cost of doing it via a third party (e.g. they provide the airframe and we run the mission) and the fact that bluntly for many years OS was a bit of a backwater for all of NATO means its never been seen as a high enough priority when other needs were greater.

The majority of participating nations don't actually own an aircraft, and do lease arrangements simply because the number of flights per year permitted under the treaty means its not a great use of a very tight defence budget to maintain a bespoke aircraft type.

As for the specific platform, part of the challenge is that it requires a lot of modifications, is treaty constrained by what it can and cannot carry, and so Rivet Joint is emphatically not something we'd want to see used. The cost of maintaining a fleet within a fleet is substantial (hence retirement without replacement of the Andover) and isnt' really credible.

There are some things that really worry me about HM Forces, but the lack of a dedicate OS platform isn't one of them! What matters is the political participation - e.g. ensuring a UK led team is involved in some form - the manner of how we get there and do the mission is arguably secondary to being there in the first place.
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Old 12th Aug 2015, 09:40
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Saw my first bears what was it two months ago....
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Old 22nd Nov 2019, 20:06
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US to Europe: Fix Open Skies Treaty or we quit

WASHINGTON — NATO allies worried U.S. President Donald Trump will abandon the Open Skies Treaty have been told the administration views the arms control agreement as a danger to U.S. national security, and that unless those nations can assuage such concerns, the U.S. will likely pull out, Defense News has learned.

At a meeting in Brussels last week, Trump administration officials laid out for the first time a full suite of concerns with the treaty and made clear they were seriously considering an exit. The agreement, ratified in 2002, allows mutual reconnaissance flights over its 34 members, including the U.S. and Russia.

According to one senior administration official, the U.S. delegation presented classified intelligence to the foreign officials to explain its concerns, chiefly that Russian forces are “misusing the treaty in their targeting of critical U.S. infrastructure,” and to request help from allies to address those concerns if the treaty is to be saved.

“This is a U.S. position — that we think this treaty is a danger to our national security. We get nothing out of it. Our allies get nothing out of it, and it is our intention to withdraw, similar to what we did with [the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty]. From our perspective, the analysis is done,” the senior Trump administration official said. “The Europeans got that. It was a splash of cold water on their faces.”

The NATO allies did not reach an agreement at that meeting, the official noted.

Sources with several of these allied countries told Defense News that the Trump administration has indicated over the last month that there likely won’t be a final decision on the treaty before late January. In the interim, they said the U.S. sent a number of NATO nations a diplomatic communication earlier this month about the pact, essentially asking treaty members to make the case for its survival........
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 08:47
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Strange that a number of sources were saying the US Military are fighting tooth & nail to keep Open Skies
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 15:29
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Trumps handler has obviously told him to do it.
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 01:40
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
Strange that a number of sources were saying the US Military are fighting tooth & nail to keep Open Skies
Do tell, what sources?
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 09:18
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It was in "The Economist" a few weeks back ................. I'll try and find it
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 09:24
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Oct 26th 2019
But supporters of Open Skies insist that Russia’s supposed advantage from the treaty has been overstated. “If they really wanted, Russia could basically collect nearly all they get from Open Skies flights via their national technical means, be it overhead or covert collection on the ground,” says Thomas Moore, an expert who formerly served with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Moreover, the flights ensure that NATO and Russian officers meet routinely, building familiarity and trust when both are in short supply. “Not only do Western countries collect imagery from their overflight, they also get a feel for the blood pressure in the Russian air force,” notes Steffan Watkins, an analyst who studies the treaty.

But the treaty’s most compelling rationale is that most of America’s allies will never be able to afford multi-billion-dollar spy satellites in the first place. For a country like Ukraine, Open Skies flights might provide the only chance to peer at Russian troop movements across the border. As Russia conducts larger snap exercises, often without proper notification, such monitoring has grown in importance. Between 2002 and 2016 American observers flew over Russia 196 times, with only 71 Russian flights over America.

Concern is mounting about America’s possible withdrawal from the treaty. George Shultz, a former secretary of state, William Perry, a former secretary of defence, and Sam Nunn, a former Democratic senator, wrote on October 20th that pulling out would be a “grave mistake”. The Pentagon and State Department are similarly worried and Robert O’Brien, Mr Bolton’s successor, is said to be slow-walking the order. America’s allies have been working the phones, urging Mr Trump to reconsider. However much the president may dislike the prospect of a Russian jet humming a few thousand feet above Washington, his allies will be telling him they love the idea of their own buzzing over Moscow"
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 13:09
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From my understanding of it, the Russians seemed more interested in going to the base exchange than overflying the targets in the US....
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 16:39
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Originally Posted by sandiego89 View Post
From my understanding of it, the Russians seemed more interested in going to the base exchange than overflying the targets in the US....
I thought that US was always keen on visiting Russian bases. A very recent example: a new "I see bee am" with a hypersonic glider was shown to US inspectors this week.


Hope they enjoyed it

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Old 27th Nov 2019, 12:14
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I see the Russians were in Scotland recently

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Old 27th Nov 2019, 12:37
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Sounds like "local Hero " all over again..............
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