Russia has filed plans to conduct a surveillance over flight of the continental United States as part of the Open Skies Treaty, a standard move under the agreement. However, this time Russia wants to use digital equipment for surveillance instead of the wet film used on previous flights, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said on Monday. Russia flew over US installations as recently as late 2014, and it will share all of its photographs with the US after the flight, Davis said. The Air Force also is working to move away from wet film for its surveillance flights, and is working to upgrade the OC-135 aircraft with digital cameras. Russia’s request comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Russia, stemming from the country’s incursion into Ukraine and its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. On Feb. 13, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Munich Security Conference that his country is in a “new Cold War” with the US and its allies. The State Department in June said Russia is violating its part of the treaty by not allowing a US OC-135 to fly over certain areas. The Open Skies Treaty, first signed in 1992 and effective as of 2002, allows member states to conduct surveillance flights to promote transparency of military forces. The US is one of 34 states to sign the treaty. (See also: Open Skies Survives Tension.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.