This year, Russia deployed and activated two separate missile regiments to protect its Arctic bases.
Cutting edge air defense to the middle of nowhere
“Two S-400 regiments have been activated and deployed to the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and the city of Tiksi in Yakutia this year under the program on reinforcing the 2014-formed Arctic force, with the program dubbed Northern Fleet – Unified Strategic Command,” a Russian officer recently told TASS news agency during the 5th Arctic – Today and Tomorrow International Forum.
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In addition to the S-400 regiments, Pantsir-S AD missile/gun batteries have been deployed with the more advanced S-400 batteries for close-in defense of the latter units. Also, deployed to Novaya Zemlya was a Bastion (SSC-5) coastal defense missile battalion to defend against sea-to-shore attacks. The source stressed that “The units are on alert round the clock” according to RT.com.
“Aircraft control posts and radio-technical, radar and space surveillance unit positions have been established in all of their stations along the Northern Sea Route from the Kola Peninsula and Novaya Zemlya to Anadyr and Cape Schmidt in the east. All of them are on alert duty,” the source added.
Russia’s Armed Forces were tasked with defense of Arctic frontiers since 2014 when it established a united strategic command for North Russia.
The head of the National Defense Control Center, Mikhail Mizintsev has stated that Russia plans to build 13 aerodromes, an aviation training range as well as 10 technical positions for radar units in the Arctic.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, military groupings have been formed on the Novaya Zamlaya archipelago, the New Siberian archipelago, the Frantz Joseph Land Islands, Wrangel Island and Cape Schmidt. Seven of the soon to be built aerodromes will be constructed in Yakutia, Taimyr and Chukotka. These new groupings will form Russia’s fifth military district which has also been tasked with protecting Russia’s interests at the North Pole.
The Russian military is currently finalizing construction and renovation works at six military bases in the Arctic region in addition to the airfields and radar installations.
Russia’s S-400 missile batteries in Syria
Following the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by Turkey when it entered its airspace (Russia still denies it entered Turkish airspace but both Turkey and the United States believe it did), Russia immediately deployed the S-400 to its airbase at Khmeinim. As a result, neither the Turkish or American air forces have struck ISIS targets in Syrian territory since the deployment.
However, according to a spokesperson of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) in a statement to Sputnik news agency last week, the lack of airstrikes within Syrian territory “has nothing to do with the S400 deployment” in Syria.
“The fluctuation or absence of strikes in Syria reflects the ebb and flow of battle,” the spokesperson said, adding that CJTF-OIR plans airstrikes when and where they are necessary and making sure to bring maximum effect against targets. Additionally, the spokesperson pointed out that the Joint Task Force also makes sure to minimize civilian casualties as much as possible.
Following the Turkish missile strike on the Su-24 both crew members successfully ejected but the pilot was killed by machine gun fire from a militant group as he parachuted to the ground. A Russian marine was also killed when providing covering fire for a rescue team and a helicopter was lost after being hit by an American-made anti-tank missile that was supplied to the group fighting ISIS.
On the same day that the plane was shot down, Russia’s Joint Staff elected to enhance air defenses at the Khmeimim airbase south of the Syrian port of Latakia. That enhancement culminated in an announcement the next day from Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu that the S-400 would be deployed imminently to the Khmeimim airbase. The anti-air missile systems were airlifted to Syria via an Antonov An-124 Ruslan super-jumbo aircraft.
According to Jane’s Defense and other sources, the S-400 is capable of shooting down anything traveling at less than Mach-14 (4.8 kilometers per second over 17,000 km/h). Essentially, the only thing within its range that it wouldn’t be able to hit is a nuclear warhead deployed by an intercontinental ballistic missile that simply travels too quickly.
The S-400 has an effective range of about 400 kilometers and at an altitude of 27,000 meters with newer missiles flying even higher.
That range means that about 75% of Syria is covered along with all of Lebanon and Cyprus. Additionally, it could reach targets in about half of Israel’s airspace as well as large amounts of Turkish airspace.
The radar on the S-400 has an even longer range of 600 kilometers.