The North of Russia and the Arctic will be covered with an impenetrable radar belt. Near Naryan-Mar will place the latest long-range radars “Sky-M”, sources in the defense department told Izvestia. This will bring the formation of a single air defense circuit over the Northern Sea Route and the Arctic Circle closer to completion. Experts note that in connection with the aggravation of the competition of world powers in the Arctic, the restoration of a continuous zone of control over the airspace there is necessary to protect the economic interests of the country.
Sources in the military department told Izvestia that the latest radar stations (radars) have already been deployed and have begun to serve. If necessary, the radars can be quickly deployed to other regions of the Arctic. The new radars will take control of the sky not only over a large section of the Northern Sea Route, but also over a cluster of oil and gas enterprises and fields in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and neighboring regions.
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Any aircraft flying at high altitude can be detected by radars for 600 km. Medium-range ballistic missiles rising high above the ground – over 1.8 thousand km. In conjunction with the Sky-M radar, additional systems are usually placed, specializing in the detection of low-flying targets.
In September, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the aggravation of the military-political situation in the Arctic due to the growing competition between states seeking to gain access to resources and transport communications. Earlier, the defense department has already announced its plans to build a unified network of control over the airspace of Russia in the Arctic.
“The interests of the leading world powers have collided in the Arctic region,” says military expert Vladislav Shurygin. – Disputes continue about the boundaries of the shelf and the ownership of resources on it. We constantly hear complaints against Russia because of the militarization of the North. But before our very eyes, NATO’s military activity is also growing there. Suffice it to recall the “probing” of the Russian air defense by American strategic bombers B-52 in September or the May maneuvers of a strike group of US and British ships in the Barents Sea.
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With the warming of the climate and the retreat of the ice, the contradictions will only grow. Therefore, the deployment of such powerful radars in the Arctic is not only a practical step to strengthen air defense in the region, but also a demonstration of firm control over economically and strategically important territories, the expert concluded.
In addition to placing conventional air defense radars and anti-aircraft missile regiments along the northern coast of the country, other modern technologies are planned to be used to better control the vast space. In December last year, the developer of the innovative over-the-horizon radar “Container” spoke about plans to build a second such station specifically for the Arctic. The first one took up combat duty in Mordovia last year and now monitors the western and southern distant approaches to the Russian borders – it can detect missile launches and aircraft flights at a distance of up to 3 thousand km.
“In the second half of the last century, a possible attack by US strategic bombers across the North Pole was viewed as a very serious threat,” military historian Dmitry Boltenkov told Izvestia. – Especially when the United States received long-range cruise missiles. This was the shortest and least protected direction – the enemy could strike at the Urals and Central Russia. Therefore, a powerful network of air defense radars was created in the Arctic and many fighter regiments were deployed. It was for work in these regions that such models of interceptor aircraft as the MiG-31 and Tu-128 were developed. There was an aviation base near Naryan-Mar.
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According to the expert, in the 1990s, almost all of the carefully built air defense infrastructure in the north of the country was lost and the space far from the land borders became a “blank spot” on the radar coverage map. The restoration began in 2013. There is now less aviation there on a permanent basis, but new and much more advanced radars have been installed.
Among the largest projects for returning to the Arctic is the formation in Yakutia of the 3rd Air Defense Division of the 45th Air Force Army and the Air Defense of the Northern Fleet. Its anti-aircraft and radar units are located in Tiksi and on the neighboring islands in the Laptev Sea.
A network of radar posts and aviation guidance points has been created along the entire northern coast of the country from Novaya Zemlya to Chukotka. Autonomous military and border bases were built on the Franz Josef Land archipelago, Kotelny, Wrangel and Sredny islands, Cape Schmidt. An air defense regiment on Novaya Zemlya was re-equipped with S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.
Radar “Sky-M” – the most powerful mobile air defense radars at the disposal of Russia. They consist of four different machines. Three of them have radar modules – centimeter, decimeter and meter ranges. Information from them is combined and processed on the fourth, where the control center is located. He is capable of simultaneously accompanying two hundred aerial objects.
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This combination of modules allows detecting a wide variety of targets, from strategic bombers and ballistic missiles to stealth aircraft.
The first serial “Sky-M” radars have been delivered to the troops since 2017. They have already equipped some regiments in the Western Military District and in the Far East, in the Crimea. The version on a car chassis allows you to transfer stations to the desired area by land, air and water – they can be deployed from the stowed position in just 15 minutes. Such radars also operate at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria.
The Northern Sea Route runs along the Arctic coast of Russia and is the shortest route between Southeast Asia and Europe. It is also critically important for the supply of the polar regions of Russia, as well as for the extraction of minerals in them. Now the route with a length of 5.6 thousand km is available for navigation two to three months a year. It is expected that in the medium term, as the climate warms and the eternal ice recedes, the period of navigation on it will increase or even become year-round, which will further increase its strategic importance.