CUSTER COUNTY— Did you spot the Russian “spy” plane yesterday? Well don’t worry, because it wasn’t really spying at all! According to the Omaha World Herald, the Russian Tu-214 Open Skies aircraft is conducting a two-day supervised aerial photography mission this week under the 1992 Open Skies Treaty.
The treaty allows the 34 signed counties to conduct aerial photography missions over one another’s territory several times a year based on a formula that is set in the treaty. Over the past several years, treaty nations have flown more than 1,400 flights.
The article from the Omaha World Herald states that the Russian plane will also fly over Offutt Air Force Base which is rare, with the last confirmed flight over the base in 2011. While the plane is Russian, the crew on board is supervised by U.S. observers and the flight must follow the path previously set aside.
The U.S. has also been approved to fly 16 flights over Russia and Belarus this year as well as two flights over Ukraine and one over Georgia. The Russian observatory plane has been approved for eight flights over the U.S.