Open Skies Treaty


  WE, THE PEOPLE      DEMAND  THAT OUR SKIES BE PROTECTED   The Open Skies Treaty is a threat to the American People.  Eliot L. Engel ,as an American, you are a disgrace to those who served before  you.


Territory:  All of a state-party's territory [there are 34] can be overflown. No territory can be declared off-limits by the host nation.


Eliot L. Engel, New York                                                            Michael T. McCaul, Texas 
Chairman                                                                                      Ranking Republican

Jason Steinbaum                                                                            Brendan P. Shields
Staff Director                                                                                 Republican Staff Director

One Hundred Sixteenth Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Foreign Affairs
2170 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

October 7, 2019

Robert C. O'Brien
National Security Advisor
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
wASHINGTON, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. O'Brien

I am deeply concerned by reports that the Trump Administration is considering withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty and strongly urge you against such a reckless action. This treaty has provided important military transparency for its 34 signatory countries since it entered into force in 2002. American withdrawal would only benefit Russia and be harmful to our allies' and partners' national security interests.

The Open Skies Treaty allows the United States and our allies and partners in Europe to monitor Russian military deployments. Observation flights under the Treaty have generated additional information regarding Russian military action in Ukraine and provided a check on further Russian aggression there. NATO allies and partners, and Ukraine in particular, have repeatedly stressed the importance of the Open Skies Treaty for their efforts to monitor Russia's military.

Withdrawal risks dividing the transatlantic alliance and would further undermine America's reliability as a stable and predictable partner when it comes to European security. If the Adminstration is indeed considering a change of status on the Treaty, it must be part of a transparent process that includes a thorough interagency review and consultation with Congress, and that provides other signatories a clear understanding of your intentions. To my knowledge, the Administration has not held significant consultations with our allies and partners on this matter. Such consultations are a prerequisite to successfully navigate any major policy shift with the Treaty.

Robert C. O'Brien
October 7, 2019
Page Two

Make no mistake, Congress is aware of some treaty implementation concerns regarding Russia. Russia continues to operate in unexpected ways. Therefore, I support the Administration's efforts to ensure full applicability of the Treaty to Kaliningrad and to the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and I support the restrictions put in place on Russian flights over the United States in response. But it is clear that these implementation concerns do not rise to the level of material breach of the Treaty, an excuse that is being peddled as the potential reason for withdrawal.

U.S. relations with Russia have become more acrimonious and complicated in the last decade. Dialogue and interaction with Russia is important during this time of heightened tension and increased potential for miscalculation. The United States should prepare for the challenge that Russia presents - not abandon mechanisms that provide the United States with an important tool in maintaining surveillance on Russia.

I request your personal engagement on this matter to ensure that the United States does not unwisely and rashly withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, which continues to serve American national security interests and is particularly important as a check against further Russian aggression against Ukraine.


"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden

The Open Skies Treaty at a Glance

Fact Sheets & Briefs
Last Reviewed: October 2019

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

Signed March 24, 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others' entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. Observation aircraft used to fly the missions must be equipped with sensors that enable the observing party to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft, and armored combat vehicles. Though satellites can provide the same, and even more detailed, information, not all of the 34 treaty states-parties1 have such capabilities. The treaty is also aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights.

President Dwight Eisenhower first proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union allow aerial reconnaissance flights over each other's territory in July 1955. Claiming the initiative would be used for extensive spying, Moscow rejected Eisenhower's proposal. President George H.W. Bush revived the idea in May 1989 and negotiations between NATO and the Warsaw Pact started in February 1990.

Treaty Status: The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently 34 states are party to the treaty while a 35th, Kyrgyzstan, has signed but not ratified it.

Twenty-six of the treaty’s initial 27 signatories have ratified the accord and are now states-parties. Since the treaty entered into force, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Sweden have become states-parties.

Territory: All of a state-party's territory can be overflown. No territory can be declared off-limits by the host nation.

Flight Quotas: Every state-party is obligated to accept a certain number of overflights each year, referred to as its passive quota, which is loosely determined by its geographic size.2 A state-party's active quota is the number of flights it may conduct over other states-parties. Each state-party has a right to conduct an equal number of flights over any other state-party that overflies it. A state-party's active quota cannot exceed its passive quota, and a single state-party cannot request more than half of another state-party's passive quota.

Russia conducted the first observation flight under the treaty in August 2002, while the United States carried out its first official flight in December 2002. In 2008, states-parties celebrated the 500th overflight, and since then, the number of flights flown has risen to more than 800.

Process: An observing state-party must provide at least 72 hours' advance notice before arriving in the host country to conduct an overflight. The host country has 24 hours to acknowledge the request and to inform the observing party if it may use its own observation plane or if it must use a plane supplied by the host. At least 24 hours before the start of the flight, the observing party will supply its flight plan, which the host has four hours to review. The host may only request changes in flight plans for flight safety or logistical reasons. If it does so, the two states-parties have a total of eight hours after submission of the original flight plan to agree on changes, if they fail, the flight can be cancelled. The observation mission must be completed within 96 hours of the observing party's arrival unless otherwise agreed.3 Although state-parties are allowed to overfly all of a member’s territory, the treaty determines specific points of entry and exit and refueling airfields. The treaty also establishes ground resolution thresholds for the onboard still and video cameras. The aircraft and its sensors must undergo a certification procedure before being allowed to be used for Open Skies in order to confirm that they do not exceed the allowed resolutions.

Aircraft: The treaty lays out standards for aircraft used for observation flights. Aircraft may be equipped with four types of sensors: optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, infra-red line-scanning devices, and sideways-looking synthetic aperture radar. For the first three full years after the treaty entered into force, the observation aircraft had to be equipped with at least a single panoramic camera or a pair of optical framing cameras. The states-parties may now agree on outfitting the observation planes with additional sensors.

Data: A copy of all data collected will be supplied to the host country. All states-parties will receive a mission report and have the option of purchasing the data collected by the observing state-party.

Treaty Implementation: The Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC), comprised of representatives of all states-parties, is responsible for the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty. The OSCC considers matters of treaty compliance, decides on treaty membership, distributes active quotas, and deals with any questions that may arise during the implementation of the treaty.

The 2nd Review Conference for the Open Skies Treaty was held in Vienna from June 7-9, 2010, under the chairmanship of the United States. The Conference’s Final Document paves the way for the use of digital cameras and sensors in the future by requesting states-parties consider the technological and financial aspects of converting to digital systems. The document also encourages the expansion of the Open Skies Treaty to other countries, particularly those in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where the OSCC is headquartered.

Images of Open Skies flights are available at:


1. Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Kyrgyzstan has signed, but not ratified the treaty.

2. For example, Russia, which shares its quota with Belarus, and the United States both have quotas permitting 42 flights per year, while Portugal is only obligated to allow two flights annually. Countries are not required to exhaust their flight quotas. In 2009, the United States flew a total of thirteen flights, twelve over Russia and one over Ukraine.

3. This limit can be extended by 24 hours if the host insists that the observing party use the host's aircraft and demonstration flight is conducted.

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 Apparently, since the Government wouldn't ask for donations, one should do more research to know how much truth is in the above article.  jt

Then we have:


This list identifies all current open-skies partners, that are:
1.Aviation partners with whom the United States has an open-skies agreement that is currently being applied
2.Aviation partners that are a signatory to the MALIAT.

Current Open-Skies Partners

Albania Ghana Peru
Armenia Greece Poland
Aruba Grenada Portugal
Australia Guatemala Qatar
Austria Guyana Romania
Azerbaijan Honduras Rwanda
Bahrain Hungary Saba
Bangladesh Iceland Saint Kitts
and Nevis
Barbados India Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines
Belgium Indonesia Saudi Arabia
Bonaire Ireland Senegal
Bosnia & Hezegovina Israel Serbia
Botswana Italy Seychelles
Brazil Jamaica Sierra Leone
Brunei Japan Singapore
Bulgaria Jordan Sint Eustatius
Burkina Faso Kenya Sint Maarten
Burundi Korea Slovakia
Cameroon Kuwait Slovenia
Canada Laos Spain
Cape Verde Latvia Sri Lanka
Chad Liberia Suriname
Chile Lithuania Sweden
Colombia Luxembourg Switzerland
Cook Islands Macedonia Taiwan
Costa Rica Madagascar Tanzania
Cote d'Ivoire Malaysia Thailand
Croatia Maldives Togo
Curacao Mali Tonga
Cyprus Malta Trinidad and
Czech Republic Montenegro Turkey
Denmark Morocco Uganda
El Salvador Namibia Ukraine
Equatorial Guinea Netherlands United Arab Emirates
Estonia New Zealand United Kingom*
Ethiopia Nicaragua Uruguay
Finland Nigeria Uzbekistan
France Norway Yemen
Gabon Oman Zambia
Gambia Pakistan
Georgia Panama
Germany Paraguay

MALIAT Membership
•Brunei Darussalam
•Cook Islands
•Mongolia (cargo-only)
•New Zealand

Cargo Open-Skies Only

* This does not apply to UK dependencies.
Updated: Tuesday, July 9, 2019