King of the North: the Russian fleet has become the leading force in the Arctic

The Russian Ministry of Defense on Monday opened a new section on the departmental site dedicated to the “Arctic shamrock” – a unique military base on the island of Alexandra Land, which is part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. The base was commissioned only last year, after nine years of construction in the most difficult climatic conditions. “Arctic Shamrock” became the northernmost military base in the world, having seized this title from the frontier posts of the FSB of Russia “Nagurskaya”, which is also deployed on Alexandra’s Land.

The opening of the base was another step in building up Russia’s presence in the Arctic. In the long term, these measures can bring significant military and economic benefits. Many experts note that other states claiming dominance in the region are seriously lagging behind Russia in terms of their technical capabilities. Only russians are able to build full-fledged military bases in the Arctic.

Garrison on stilts

The area of ​​the “Arctic shamrock” is more than 14 thousand square meters. The heart of the base is a five-story building of the housing and administrative complex. The ground floor is technical. Here is a complex technical stuffing that allows the base to work for a long time in an autonomous mode, without help from the Big Land. On the other floors there are sleeping cabins, canteens, weapons rooms, observation post, warehouses of food and fuel. The administrative and economic block is designed for the residence and service of a garrison of 150 people for 18 months. The base is supplied by air, through Nagurskoye airfield. In total, 13 airbases are planned to be built in the region. In addition, some of the cargoes are delivered to the land of Alexandra by the ships of the icebreaker fleet.

In addition to the main building of the housing and administrative complex, the “Arctic Shamrock” includes a power station, a water treatment plant for 700 tons of water, a shore pumping station for fuel replenishment, sewage facilities, heated garage garages for military equipment. The premises are interconnected by covered galleries, so that the personnel can quickly move between them. All buildings are located on stilts, a few meters above the surface of the ice. According to a similar project, another Russian military base is being built on the island of Kotelny (Novosibirsk Islands) – the Northern Clover. It is expected that 250 people can live on its territory.

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At the moment, the units of the 1st Air Defense Division of the 45th Air Force and Air Defense Forces of the Northern Fleet are based on the “Arctic Shamrock”. This army was formed in December 2015 to serve in the archipelagos Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, Novosibirskye Ostrov. The Arctic grouping has received modernized models of military equipment that can effectively operate in conditions of extreme frosts. By the way, this year they will be shown for the first time on the Victory Day parade on May 9.

“The Arctic technics will appear for the first time at the parade, it will be immediately recognizable by the” cold “northern coloring.The general public will see the anti-aircraft defense technique – the Tor-M2DT anti-aircraft missile system, the Pantsir-SA anti-aircraft missile and gun system Made especially for the Far North, “Igor Salyukov, the Commander of the Ground Forces, told reporters in early April.” In addition, this year we are planning to introduce modifications of already known tank models, possibly T-72B3M.”

Ice fleet

Building the ground infrastructure and modernizing military equipment, the Ministry of Defense in parallel strengthens the fleet of ships capable of operating in the Arctic. In 2017, the Northern Fleet should include a diesel-electric icebreaker “Ilya Muromets”. He is able to work in a continuous ice field up to a meter thick. In addition to performing its main function – wiring ships through the Arctic waters – it is able to transport cargo and will be used to supply the Arctic group with the necessary equipment.

In December 2015, the auxiliary transport of armament “Akademik Kovalev” of the reinforced ice class of the project 20180TV was commissioned in the Northern Fleet. In addition, by 2020 it is planned to build for the needs of the Navy patrol ship of the Arctic zone “Ivan Papanin” project 23550. It will be armed with anti-ship missiles and a universal 100-mm gun AK-190.

As experts say, our military ships in the Arctic region have one decisive advantage over the western ones.

“Unexpectedly for the western military experts, the Russian GLONASS global positioning system in the Arctic turned out to be much more effective than GPS,” Nikolaiev, editor-in-chief of the journal “Defense Industrial Potential,” told Nikolai Ivanovich, “GPS with positioning in the region gives an error of about 800 meters.” The Northern Sea Route – Very difficult for navigation, there is a complex, constantly changing ice situation, there are shoals, and therefore such a mistake is very serious. “GLONASS works here at times more accurately. The construction of ships, it is necessary to strengthen our satellite constellation in geostationary orbits in order to maintain this advantage.

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The second most important trump card of our country in the Arctic is a full-fledged fleet of nuclear icebreakers. It is this type of ships that are the guarantee of any military and civil construction in the region. To date, Russia has two nuclear icebreakers with a two-reactor nuclear power plant with a capacity of 75,000 horsepower (Yamal, 50 years of Victory), two icebreakers with a single-reactor facility of about 50,000 horsepower (Taimyr, Vaigach, ), Nuclear lighter-container ship “Sevmorput” with a reactor plant with a capacity of 40 thousand horsepower and 5 vessels of technological service. The icebreaker “The Soviet Union” is in operational reserve. An impressive armada – and this without taking into account the diesel-electric icebreakers.

Formally, these ships perform non-military functions, but, if necessary, they can be used to supply the Arctic grouping or for wiring warships along a continuous ice field.


Three goals

As the military expert Viktor Litovkin said on Sputnik radio, increasing its presence in the Arctic, Russia pursues three goals. First, our country controls the Northern Sea Route, the most important water transport artery, in fact. Last year the ships transported 7.26 million tons of various cargoes for it, exceeding for the first time the indices of the Soviet era. Secondly, Russia thus protects its wealth in the waters of the Arctic Ocean – oil and gas.

“And the third, in my opinion, the main task – we protect these waters from foreign ships with missile defense systems, with strategic missiles on board,” Viktor Litovkin explained. “So they do not threaten our country from the Arctic Ocean. Our country in terms of security region. ”

In addition to our country, the USA, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are applying for Arctic resources. Of all these countries, only America can theoretically throw Russia a military challenge in the region. However, the United States does not have military bases here, and they have only two icebreakers capable of moving in the Arctic. Canada is going to build in 2017 up to eight new Navy patrol ships for combat duty in the Arctic waters, but this country does not have ground forces in the region.

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The Norwegian Navy is armed with four patrol ships capable of serving in the ice, but their modest weapons will not allow them to compete on an equal footing with the Russian Northern Fleet. Denmark has strong enough naval forces, but it has relatively few ice-class ships and no military infrastructure in the Arctic. Finland and Sweden have no serious military power at sea.

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