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Analysis: Russia builds up Northern fleet in Arctic

The Defense Ministry considered the activities of the Northern fleet in 2019-2025 and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said it had been reinforced by another air defense division to defend the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route. The Army Standard online publication assessed the strength of the fleet.

Analysis Russia builds up Northern fleet in Arctic 925 001The Russian missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov (Picture source: Vitaly Mekarchev/TASS)

The buildup mostly targets the protection of the Northern Sea Route. The Northern fleet annually trains interaction with airborne, aerospace and commando forces to defend important industrial facilities and Russian economic interests in the Arctic. Military townships have been erected in Arctic islands.

425 objects with a total space of 700 thousand square meters were built in Kotelny, Alexandra Land, Wrangel Islands and Cape Schmidt. Over a thousand military were deployed there with arms and hardware. A major airfield is built-in Franz-Joseph Land for round-the-year operation.

In Soviet time, a powerful Kola air defense formation defended the northern airspace in the Arctic. However, in 1990s the military townships were abandoned. The EU and the USA began to pay major attention to Arctic resources. In late 2000s, Russia began to gradually return to the Arctic. It was necessary to build up the military might to protect Russian interests. The Defense Ministry drafted a plan to deploy Arctic troops up to 2020.

A military township was constructed in Tiksi settlement. All its facilities meet modern comfort requirements and accommodate the new air defense formation. It was reportedly to be armed with S-300V4 modern and mobile missile launchers which are the only weapon in the world capable of fighting intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Coastal units were armed with mobile Bastion and Bal launchers. Bal was accepted into service in 2008 and its main mission is to control territorial waters and straits, protect naval bases, coastal objects and infrastructure against an amphibious assault.

The motorized infantry brigade of the Northern fleet is reinforced with Arctic short-range Tor-M2DT launchers. They can simultaneously track 48 air targets, including stealth ones. They select the most dangerous ones and destroy them by salvo fire.

Tor-M2DT is the only weapon of the class in the world which can fire in motion. It is carried by a two-section tracked all-terrain undercarriage to drive in marshlands and snow. The undercarriage provides completely autonomous operation of the launchers, the Army Standard said.

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