In a sharp change reminiscent of the Cold War, the US is seeking to reopen parts of its former military base in Iceland for the express purpose of hunting Russian submarines.
The base, situated at Keflavik International Airport close to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, was first opened as a strategic US airbase for US bombers during World War II.
However, the base took on key strategic use during the Cold War as it allowed the US easy access to patrol the North Atlantic against potential Soviet threats, Forces TV reports.
After the Cold War, US presence in the region began to draw down and within the past ten years the US and NATO have largely stopped using Naval Air Station Keflavik. But, with a sudden return to Cold War-like tensions, the US is planning on once again opening the base for the express purpose of submarine hunting.
Stars and Stripes reports that the US Navy is asking for funds in its 2017 budget to reopen and upgrade its hangar at Keflavik. The upgrade would allow the US to fly P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft over the North Atlantic with ease — currently, the US has to fly the aircraft out of a base in Sicily to the Atlantic for operations.
The Poseidons would be used for patrolling the Atlantic waters off of the coasts of England, Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland.
The decision to base Poseidons once again in Iceland reflects the gradual shift towards a Cold War-like state between NATO and Russia. For reasons still unknown, Moscow has greatly increased the number of submarines operating the North Atlantic.
There is now more reported “activity from Russian submarines than we’ve seen since the days of the Cold War,” NATO Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone told Jane’s.
In addition to an increased number of submarines, the subs are also of higher quality and feature a more professional crew, leading to a general unease among NATO nations.
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