The Russians are coming … and they’re bringing missiles.
In a move that portents a cataclysm we don’t know anything about, Russian President Vladimir Putin is moving yet another S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) regiment to the Arctic.
According to the Russian defense ministry, it has been deployed to Yurzhnyi Island in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, AINonline reported.
“Following rearmament of this unit with the newer equipment, the area of Arctic airspace under our control has considerably expanded,” said the Russian defense ministry in a statement.
The exportable S-400 has an advertised firing range of 380 km (205 nm) with Fakel 40N6E missiles and a radar acquisition range for airborne targets of 580 km. The Russian armed forces operate a total of 16 S-400 SAM regiments.
The regiment in Novaya Zemlya supplements another S-400 unit deployed earlier this year to the Kola peninsula, a continental part of the Russian Arctic lands. Both regiments, belonging to the air defense system of the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet, have recently exchanged their older-generation S-300 systems for the S-400.
As part of increased militarization of the Arctic, the service plans to place S-400 units on other islands in the north so as to ultimately have complete air defense coverage of the Arctic portion of the national border, the report said.
Earlier this year, the Russian defense ministry reported the restoration of complete radar coverage of the national territory after some 20 years of it being degraded in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Starting in 2017, Russian armed forces have been busily deploying recently developed Arctic versions of the Thor and Pantsyr short-range SAMs. They provide protection of key installations in the area from strikes with precision-guided munitions, as well as those by drones and other low-flying air vehicles.
Last month the Northern Fleet commander, vice-admiral Alexander Moiseyev, said that the service’s first unit armed with the Thor-M2DT had become operational in the region.
He added that Russia has intentions to continue “active expansion” in the Arctic with the focus on additional SAM deployments in the area, the report said.
“There are plans for the next few years to re-arm all of our Arctic units with modern long-range missile systems so as to establish a complete dome over the Russian portion of the Arctic…and to provide protection [of our key objects] from all means of air assault, including airplanes, cruise, and ballistic missiles.”
In another development, the Russian armed forces began test firings of cruise missiles in the Arctic area. They began in September when the 3M55 Onix supersonic ram-jet missile hit a sea-going target 200 km off the Chukotka peninsula.
Meanwhile, Russian navy oceanic exploration activities continue to search for new evidence to prove Moscow’s claims for an additional portion of the Arctic Shelf, so as to move the Russian Arctic borderline — which already measures 22,600 km in length — farther north.