GREAT FALLS-On Wednesday, the Russian Federation arrived in Great Falls as part of the Open Skies Treaty.
The Russian aircraft is equipped with electro-optical cameras and Russia will conduct two imaging flight segments Thursday and Friday out of Great Falls.
Under the Open Skies Treaty, the United States will inspect the TU-154 aircraft before any flights take place. U.S. officials will also have observers on board to monitor all phases of the flights to ensure treaty compliance.
The treaty enhances confidence and security by providing a mechanism for mutual understanding, according to Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon.
This is the first Russian Open Skies mission over the United States in 2019. The United States has conducted three treaty missions over Russia so far this year.
Pahon said the flights will be completed by Saturday and the Russian crew will then leave the United States.
-Margaret DeMarco reporting for MTN News