Russia Launches Mixed Aviation Corps to Safeguard Northern Sea Route

Melting Ice, Rising Stakes: The Race to Control the Arctic's Superhighway.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

A combined Arctic aviation corps will safeguard Russia’s Northern Sea Route. It was established as a component of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet and has commenced operations. It consists of two regiments of fighter, mixed, and helicopter aviation, according to the Russian publication “Izvestia.” This new combat formation will protect the northern islands from hostile air, ground, surface, and underwater forces while encompassing the vital Arctic transportation artery. Since other nations contest the control of the Northern Sea Route, Russia feels the northern borders must be fortified.

A mixed aviation corps was established within the Northern Fleet. The new entity was formed based on the 45th Army of the Air Force and Air Defence. “Izvestia” cites military sources as saying that safeguarding the Northern Sea Route against hostile air, ground, surface, and submerged forces is one of the primary responsibilities of the mixed aviation corps.

Originally, the 45th Army of the Air Force and Air Defence was a Northern Fleet Unified Command component. Nevertheless, a directive has been issued to relocate the Army to the fledgling Leningrad Military District. The original intention was to establish an entirely new air force within the Leningrad Military District; however, as per reliable sources, this scheme was subsequently abandoned.

The mixed aviation corps of the Northern Fleet consists of the 279th and 100th Fighter Naval Aviation Regiments. Furthermore, the [403rd] mixed aviation regiment is outfitted with anti-submarine Il-38N and transport aircraft An-12 and An-26. The MAC additionally comprises the [830th] helicopter regiment, outfitted with Mi-8AMTSH/MTV-5, search and rescue, anti-submarine Ka-27 helicopters, and transport-attack Ka-29 helicopters.

The corps command also possesses radiotechnical and anti-aircraft missile units.

The mixed aviation corps’ aircraft are already on duty at Russian military sites in the Arctic. At the Rogachevo airport in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, naval aviation units’ Su-33 and MiG-29KR fighter aircraft carry duties covering the Northern Sea Route and other Arctic territories.

The Northern Fleet is intended to protect key naval installations, islands, the Northern Sea Route, and Russian ships in the Barents Sea and other seas, while the Northern Military District is expected to guard the border with Finland and Norway.

The mixed aviation corps pilots have begun training flights with Il-38 aircraft over the Barents Sea as part of their drills. These flights, which took place on December 21, featured group searches and hydroacoustic and radar-based tracking missions for submarines belonging to a fictitious opponent. Polar night conditions prevailed during the flying operations.

According to the Northern Fleet press service, the flights’ primary objective was to improve operations coordination among the pilots in groups when completing missions.

Exercises pertaining to the organisation of defence and security of the mixed aviation corps airfield were conducted in the Northern Fleet on December 24. The military used these drills to show off how to employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that resemble quadcopters, as well as countermeasures.

Beginning on December 1, the Russian Ministry of Defence carried out the president’s order to raise the number of soldiers in the armed forces to 1,320,000. Against the backdrop of Finland’s upcoming NATO membership and Sweden’s impending entrance, the formation of the Leningrad and Moscow military districts continues. Their formation also takes into account the agreement between Washington and Helsinki to use Finnish military facilities, particularly aviation bases.

According to reports, the Russian Ministry of Defence has established new military transport aircraft regiments in the west, north, and south, the three main strategic areas. In the Russian Far East, the first one has already been created. Transport aircraft such as Il-76, An-26, and Mi-26 helicopters will be available for the regiments. The current complex military and political scenario will allow for quicker deployment of personnel and assets to threatened directions thanks to these new units.

Russia regards the Northern Sea Route as an internal waterway and maintains it is solely within its authority. A substantial amount of money is invested in icebreaking and infrastructure, and they enforce stringent regulations for vessels that sail through the area.

Based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), several countries are challenging Moscow’s claims, the most prominent of which are the United States of America, Canada, and various European nations. Additionally, they advocate for the freedom of navigation and international governance.

Given the precarious nature of the Malacca Strait, China is eager to explore alternative trade routes. It is actively collaborating with Russia to build infrastructure along the Northern Sea Route and working towards achieving a more prominent role regionally.

As the Arctic ice melts, the Northern Sea Route becomes more accessible, granting access to abundant resources and potentially altering shipping patterns. Controlling the Northern Sea Route can influence worldwide economic patterns and geopolitical alliances. This is because it enables a more practical route between Asia and Europe.


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