A Tupolev Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft (L) and Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refuelling tanker. Photo: NurPhoto via AFP / Valya Egorshin

The Russian Navy will significantly expand its Arctic air patrols in 2018, taking advantage of new or upgraded bases in this increasingly strategic part of the world.

A press statement from Moscow’s Northern Fleet says  that patrols involving Tu-142 and Il-38 aircraft will continue this year with a “significantly expanded” geographical scope, according to a report in the Independent Barents Observer.

The expanded flights will be supported by a polar airfield at Temp in the New Siberian Islands.

Russia has reportedly  been busy constructing facilities at Nagurskoye airfield in Franz Josef Land, the Temp at the New Siberian Islands, Rogachevo in Novaya Zemlya and Naryan-Mar.

The Northern Fleet, which defends the country’s Arctic region, has said that the new Nagurskoye base will be equipped with a 2,500 meter long landing strip and a fleet of MiG-31s or Su-34s.

Upgrades will also be made at Arctic airfield sites in Vorkuta, Tiksi, Anadyr and Alykel.

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