- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2020

The U.S. Air Force this week formally dropped plans to update and conduct maintenance to its Open Skies Treaty-approved aircraft, roughly two months after President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the multilateral agreement.

The service officially rescinded its solicitation to conduct updates and repairs to the OC-135 Open Skies aircraft despite having received $125 million from Congress last year for the maintenance, Defense News reported.

“On 22 May 2020, the United States provided formal notice of its intent to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies. As a result, this announcement is hereby cancelled,” the Air Force said in a statement posted on beta.sam.gov. The notice was carried out this week.

Mr. Trump in May announced plans to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, a nearly 20-year-old international agreement that allows dozens of nations to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territory.

The U.S. has used the Boeing-made OC-135B to conduct the treaty-approved unarmed reconnaissance flights since 1993.

The president and other critics of the deal have long claimed it isn’t being enforced and is no longer in the U.S. national interest.

U.S. officials have complained about restrictions Moscow has put on overflights of certain areas, including Chechnya and Russia’s strategic Kaliningrad enclave in Europe.

But Russia and many European capitals swiftly condemned the move, as did senior Democrats in Congress, arguing that European partners could be aggravated by another U.S. repudiation of a major multilateral security pact.

The American pullout would take effect in November, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration reserves the right to “reconsider our withdrawal should Russia return to full compliance” with the accord.

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