Treaty on Open Skies – DND/CF News Release
– June 2012
Treaty on Open Skies: a Russian Surveillance Tu-154M Visits Trenton
'Open Skies' is back in the news. These days, Open Skies just as likely refers to
'liberal' civil air transport agreements. In this case, however, it
pertains to the multinational Treaty on Open Skies which allows aerial surveillance
flights over the territories of its 34 signatory nations.
past, CASR has reproduced DND's 2007
Backgrounder on the Treaty
on Open Skies.)
What has attracted media attention in part is the use by the Russian Federation of a
Tupolev Tu-154 never a common sight in Canada. The aircraft in question is a former
airliner that has been modified to suit its surveillance task.  Day-to-day,
the Tu-154M/LK-1 is used to train cosmonauts hence its markings ( Y. A.
Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russian on the portside, English on the
starboard ). When configured for the Open Skies monitoring role, this aircraft becomes a
Tu-154M-ON. The Russian Federation uses two aircraft for Open Skies monitoring, a turboprop
Antonov An-30B and the larger Tupolev now due for replacement.
That replacement ( left ) is based on Tupolev's Tu-214 airliner. Adapted by Moscow-based
sensor specialist, Vega, the Tu-214ON  has an air surveillance system with synthetic
aperture radar, a infrared linear scanner, and cameras. Russian sources claim
the Tu-214ON to be the first dedicated aircraft to carry all of the surveillance
sensors cleared by the agreement.
Regardless of uniqueness claims, the speed with which new multi-use platforms have budded
from the Tu-214 line is noteworthy. These are relatively modest adaptations but contrast
with DND's pace at choosing from among existing 'platforms' (the Canadian Multi-mission
Aircraft, DND's all-but-forgetten scheme to select a CP-140 Aurora replacement being a case in point ).
The text of the DND/CF News Release on the 2012 Open Skies
visit is reproduced below.
 Tupolev Tu-154M/LK-1 RA-85655 previously flew as a VIP transport in Aeroflot markings.
The Luftwaffe also once operated a Tu-154M-ON (which it had inherited
from East Germany).
 As with the Tu-154M-ON, the Tu214ON designation refers to Otkritoie
DND/Canadian Forces News Release
Russian Observation Aircraft Takes To Canadian Skies Under International Treaty
NR 12.128 - June 23, 2012
OTTAWA — Between June 26 to 28, 2012, a Russian Federation
Tupolev TU-154M aircraft will conduct observation flights over Canada, in accordance
with the Treaty on Open Skies.
A Tupolev TU-154M aircraft, which arrived at 8 Wing [Canadian Forces Base] Trenton today,
will be accorded its legal right of an unimpeded observation overflight of
Canadian territory, in fulfillment of Canada's obligations as a state party
to the Treaty on Open Skies. Using an array of onboard imagery systems,
the aircraft can observe and verify objects of interest or concern, such as
military installations, industrial complexes, population centres and transport- ation
The Treaty on Open Skies, which entered into force on January 1, 2002,
promotes increased confidence and transparency among the 34 nations that are
parties to the treaty. Canada has exercised its treaty rights by having
previously conducted a number of observation flights over several states,
including Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, the Russian
Feder- ation, and Ukraine.
This [...] marks the eighth time a foreign state party will have conducted an
observation flight over Canada, the first having taken place in September 2004. For
reasons of safety, security and compliance, Canadian military
personnel will escort the Russian aircraft at all times.
Canada is a signatory to several security treaties, including those dedicated to the
elimination, reduction or control of weapons of mass destruction and conventional
armaments. The Treaty on Open Skies is one example of how Canada exercises
its commitment to reducing the threat of armed conflict by increasing
trust and confidence through developing greater openness and
transparency between states.