UK in race with Russia to cease Arctic defence opportunities
A new Defence Arctic Strategy has been announced by the Ministry of Defence, enhancing the UK’s focus on the Arctic region and its increasing opportunities and threats.
Climate change in the Arctic and High North means the region has become more accessible, resulting in greater military activity.
Currently, the Royal Marines endure cold weather training in Norway once a year and around 800 are expected to deploy there in 2019.
Part of the new Arctic strategy makes this training long-term and sees the UK become more integrated into Norway’s defence plan, providing UK troops a unique opportunity to train alongside a key ally.
Additionally, in 2019, four RAF Typhoons will patrol Icelandic skies for the first time, allowing the UK to work closely with allies to deter aerial threats to Euro Atlantic security.
The year after, Britain will increase its operational commitments in the area with the introduction of new P-8 Poseidon aircraft, based out of RAF Lossiemouth.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said the strategy would place the Arctic and the High North at the centre of British security.
“As the ice melts and new shipping routes emerge, the significance of the High North and Arctic region increases,” he commented.
“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.”