Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Open Skies spy eyes Jeziorki

Soviet-era aircraft over Jeziorki are getting rarer and rarer with the passing years; I've snapped some good ones since I started blogging in 2007. So it was with a good deal of excitement that I reached for my camera, with 55-300mm lens mounted, as I saw this Russian Antonov An-30 coming in to land at Okęcie over our house.

What's this plane doing over Warsaw? It is monitoring Poland, for Russia, as part of the Open Skies Treaty. On the tail fin (obscured in this shot by the left tail plane) is the wording 'Открытое небо'. [Like the Polish odkryte niebo - literally 'uncovered heaven']

Click to enlarge, and look at the round window just below the cockpit. Can you see a face peering down?

I have seen several Open Skies Antonov An-30s above Jeziorki; some were Bulgarian, others Ukrainian, others still Russian. It is interesting that despite the ongoing conflict in east Ukraine, the Russians have not pulled out of Open Skies (as they have pulled out of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe less than two weeks earlier).

How much longer Russia will continue as a member of Open Skies is unknown (probably until Mr Putin calculates that there is more political capital to be made from withdrawing than from gathering aerial photographs and electronic information this way). But for the time being, his planes are flying over Poland. Are Polish and planes from other NATO members flying over Russia right now, as the treaty envisages? Are Russian planes on Open Skies missions flying with their transponders switched on or off?

The An-30, NATO code-name Clank, is a fairly old aircraft, the newest having been built 35 years ago, the oldest are approaching 45. But then, as I've written here on a number of occasions, old age is no reason why planes shouldn't keep flying. The Russian Air Force still currently has 14 An-30s in service on cartographic duties. (So not an old warhorse; more of an old carthorse.) The An-30 is based on the An-24 and An-26 twin turboprop transports; I saw several of these parked up (presumably no longer serviceable) at Katowice airport yesterday; some were old Polish Air Force planes, the rest in the livery of Ukrainian private airlines.

This time last year:
New road and retail: waiting for Jeziorki's new Biedronka to open

This time three years ago:
Warsaw's Northern Bridge - its name and local democracy

This time five years ago:
What's the Polish for 'commuter'?

This time six years ago:
Four weeks into Lent

This time seven years ago:
The fate of urban wetlands?


Sigismundo said...

One things for sure - the Ruskis now have a photo of you taking a photo of them taking a photo of you.

AndrzejK said...

Not quite sure why anyone bothers when you have Google Earth view!!

Michael Dembinski said...

It's all about resolution (greater than from space) and trust (allowing one's enemy to fly over your territory and vice-versa).