Russia Requesting to Fly Over United States With Advanced Digital Camera

Posted: Feb 22, 2016 7:15 AM

According to ABC News, Russia will formally ask the Open Skies Consultative Commission, based in Vienna, permission to fly long range spy planes equipped with high-tech sensors over the United States.  

Russia will ask permission on Monday to start flying surveillance planes equipped with high-powered digital cameras amid warnings from U.S. intelligence and military officials that such overflights help Moscow collect intelligence on the United States.

Russia and the United States are signatories to the Open Skies Treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over the entire territory of all 34 member nations to foster transparency about military activity and help monitor arms control and other agreements. Senior intelligence and military officials, however, worry that Russia is taking advantage of technological advances to violate the spirit of the treaty.

"The treaty has become a critical component of Russia's intelligence collection capability directed at the United States. In addition to overflying military installations, Russian Open Skies flights can overfly and collect on Department of Defense and national security or national critical infrastructure.  The vulnerability exposed by exploitation of this data and costs of mitigation are increasingly difficult to characterize," Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote in a letter earlier this year to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of a House subcommittee on strategic forces.