US Conducts “Extraordinary” Open Skies Flight Over Ukraine

An OC-135 Open Skies aircraft parked on a ramp at Offutt AFB, Neb., on Sept. 14. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond.

A USAF OC-135 observation aircraft conducted an “extraordinary” Open Skies flight over Ukraine on Thursday, demonstrating the US commitment to defending Ukraine and other European countries against Russian aggression.

The flight came in response to “Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Straight,” Nov. 25. The Pentagon termed the Russian action a “dangerous escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity.”

Representatives from Canada, Germany, France, Romania, and the United Kingdom also participated in the flight, according to a State Department tweet.

The 1992 Open Skies Treaty allows the United States and the 32 other signing nations to conduct a set number of observation flights over each other’s territory, but if a flight is declared “extraordinary” it falls outside of that quota.

The US Air Force operates two OC-135 Open Skies aircraft, which are assigned to Offutt AFB, Neb. Each is equipped with a variety of radars, scanning devices, video cameras, and panoramic optical cameras.