Arctic sub-hunters, more cold weather training, and RAF Typhoons patrolling the Icelandic skies.
These were just a few of items UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson ran through at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, England last weekend as he announced a new Defence Arctic Strategy, saying it was time for Britain to respond to Russia’s increasing development along the Northern Sea Route.
“As the ice melts and new shipping routes emerge, the significance of the High North and Arctic region increases,” he said in a news release. “Russia, with more submarines operating under the ice and ambitions to build over 100 facilities in the Arctic, are staking a claim and militarising the region. We must be ready to deal with all threats as they emerge.”
Re-booting Britain’s High Arctic know-how
The announcement comes on the heels of On Thin Ice: UK Defence in the Arctic, an August report from the UK defence sub-committee bemoaning the country’s dwindling expertise in the region.
Although the report described the Arctic as a “low tension” area, it said climate change was altering the region’s security environment, but that Britain’s High Arctic know-how needed to be regenerated.
Among the measures announced by Williamson on Saturday were:
- closer integration of the Royal Marines and the Norwegian military for cold weather training
- four RAF Typhoon fighter jets to patrol Icelandic skies in 2019
- introduction of new P-8 Poseidon aircraft that can “combat a range of intensifying threats, not least increasing submarine activity in the Arctic.”
- More frequent under-ice deployments for the Royal Navy
Write to Eilís Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related links from around the North:
Finland: Finland to host major war games in 2021, Yle News
Norway: Will NATO save important air base in Norwegian Arctic?, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Russian navy boosting armament on northwestern bases, satellite images show, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Swedish military wants to double in size, Radio Sweden
United States: New symposium brings U.S. military’s attention to the Arctic, Alaska Public Media