Russia plans on deploying a series of drones to the Arctic before the end of the year as the country dedicates increasing resources towards militarization of the frozen north, Russian news agency Tass reports.
Russia will begin with the deployment of Orlan-10 drones in the Eastern Military District. The first trial flights of the drones will take place in early 2015. These trials will have an emphasis on low temperature conditions.
According to Tass, the drones will be used for surveillance and reconnaissance along Russian territorial waters. The Orlan-10s will also be used in combat training tasks along the shore of the Arctic Ocean.
The deployment of drones to the Arctic comes as Russia plans to rapidly upgrade its navy and air force, partly in order to dominate the waterway emerging from the melting of polar ice. This attempted militarization of the Arctic includes the deployment of 40 warships alongside the purchase of 150 new aircraft for Russia’s Arctic Forces.
To support the rising number of military equipment and personnel that Russia is shifting to the Arctic, Moscow is also undertaking a construction blitz across the region. Russia plans to create 13 airfields and ten air-defence radar stations in the Arctic in addition to a string of 16 deepwater ports.
Simultaneously, Russia is training a commando detachment specifically for Arctic warfare. A second Arctic-warfare brigade will be ready by 2017.
Russia’s militarization of the Arctic is aimed at putting Moscow in a prime position to exploit the vast amounts of untapped fossil fuels lying in the Arctic sea bed. The US estimates that upwards of 15% of the earth’s remaining oil, 30% of its natural gas, and 20% of its liquefied natural gas are stored under the Arctic.
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