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US, Czech to Conduct Observation Flight Over Russia
9.03.2015 09:48
US, Czech to Conduct Observation Flight Over Russia
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US and Czech military experts are expected to conduct a surveillance flight over Russia as part of the Open Skies treaty between March 9-14.

      Since 2002, Russia, the United States and a number of other signatories to the Treaty on Open Skies have allowed a limited number of observation flights over their turf. International agreements set the number of flights, the type of surveillance equipment on board and airports that can be used.

      “Most of the world has no idea this treaty even exists,” Navy Cmdr. Chris “Half” Nelson, who oversaw the mission over Russia last November, told the Stars and Stripes. “Whenever I mention that Russians fly aircraft over the U.S. taking pictures, it blows people’s minds.”

      It was President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s idea back in 1955 aimed at building confidence. However, the treaty was signed only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and came into force when Russia ratified it a decade later.

      The interior of Boeing OC-135B that is used by the allies to monitor Russian military installations, seats 35 people, including the cockpit crew, aircraft maintenance crew, foreign country representatives and crew members from the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency(DTRA). Cameras installed include one vertical and two oblique KS-87E framing cameras used for low-altitude photography approximately 3,000 feet (900 m) above the ground, and one KA-91C panoramic camera, which scans from side to side to provide a wide sweep for each picture used for high-altitude photography at approximately 35,000 feet (11,000 m).

      The data annotation and recording system (DARMS) processes navigational, altitude, time and camera signals to annotate each picture with correct position, altitude, time, roll angle and other information. In addition, this system records every picture taken according to camera, frame and navigational position and downloads these data to a 3.5-inch floppy disk.[citation needed] A keyboard with trackball is the input device for operation of this system. Two Barco 12-inch (30 cm) VGA color monitors display camera annotation and other camera data on screen for the sensor operator and observer use.

      Camera control, located in the sensor operator's console, operates and adjusts individual cameras for cloud cover, frame overlap and other functions. The sensor operator console seats four and has all the equipment listed above plus camera bay heating control, chronometers, emergency oxygen, interphone and individual lighting. The flight following console also seats four and includes most of the equipment listed above except for DARMS and camera controls.

      Seven commercial Norcoid Tek II coolers with individual refrigeration units maintain temperature and humidity control to maintain peak film performance. The units can be removed, if necessary, from the aircraft in order to transport film. The coolers are capable of storing 40,000 feet (12,000 m) of film.


Author: Mikhail Vesely


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