submitted to `Trust and Verify', VERTIC , London 1997


Hartwig Spitzer
Universität Hamburg
Arbeitsgruppe für Naturwissenschaft und Internationale Sicherheit (CENSIS)

The Open Skies practise is expanding into new areas, although the Treaty itself has not yet entered into force. In July and August the German Open Skies aircraft performed three remarkable flights for desaster monitoring along the Oder river and for regional confidence building over Bosnia. Two monitoring flights of the Oder river flooding were arranged on short notice in close coordination with the German and Polish crisis management centers. The flights took place on 23 adn 30 July covering all the river areas along the German-Polish border. High resolution images were developed over night and handed over to German and Polish authorities on the next day. The images provided a complete and accurate picture of the flooded areas, and may help preparations for the next flood season.The flights demonstrated the potential of the Open Skies regime for environmental and desaster monitoring.

As reported by `Trust and Verify' (1997) a first Open Skies demonstration flight over Bosnia took place in June 1997, with Hungary and Romania as lead nations. Another much more comprehensive observation flight was performed using the German Open Skies aircraft on 27 August 1997. Upon agreement with the three Bosnian entities a total of 122 ground targets were photographed, covering both military and civilian sites. Although the aircraft flew at an altitude of 20 000 ft the Treaty resolution limit of 30 cm was obtained at clear skies for about 70 % of the sites. The remaining sites were clouded. Copies of the pictures taken were handed to the representatives of the three entities a few days later. The images are supposed to support military openness and civilian reconstruction.

Another Open Skies flight over Bosnia, jointly performed by the USA and The Russian Federation, is scheduled for late October 1997. It is hoped that this will also positively influence the Treaty verification process in the Russian Duma.

Much more than the above developments sad news brought considerable media attention to the German Open Skies aircraft. On 13 September the aircraft was lost in a tragic accident over the South Atlantic, killing all 24 people on board. The aircraft was on its way to an anniversary celebration of the South African Naval Forces. The loss of the aircraft is a severe setback for the German Open Skies program. A decision on retrofitting another Tupolev 154 M for Open Skies use is pending.