A Russian Air Force AN-30 aircraft will carry out aerial surveillance flights in Bulgarian air space from June 5 to 9 as part of the Open Skies Treaty, the Ministry of Defence in Sofia said.
During the flights, which will follow flight plans agreed in advance, the actions of the Russian crew will be monitored by Bulgarian Air Force experts aboard the aircraft, the ministry said.
The Bulgarians accompanying the Russian crew are from the Strategic Planning Directorate and Air Force Command Specialists on Implementing the Open Skies Treaty.
Bulgaria is one of 34 countries that are party to the Open Skies Treaty, having signed it in 1992 and ratified it in 1994.
In force since January 2002, the treaty provides for unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the whole territory of its participants.
The agreement is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, direct roles in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.
Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international efforts to date in promoting openness and transparency of military forces and activities.
The Open Skies system covers the territory over which the state exercises sovereignty, including land, islands, and internal and territorial waters. The treaty specifies that the entire territory of a state party is open to observation. Observation flights may only be restricted for reasons of flight safety; not for reasons of national security.
The commitments undertaken by the Republic of Bulgaria under the Open Skies Treaty contribute to the implementation of confidence and security measures on a European and global scale, the Defence Ministry said.