Russia will deploy a series of drones to the Arctic before the end of this year as part of the country’s plan to construct a unified network of military facilities in its Arctic territories, Russian news agency Tass reported on Monday.
Russian authorities are expected to begin with the deployment of Orlan-10 drones in the Eastern Military District in Chukotka, an autonomous region located in the Russian Far East. The first test flights of the drones are slated to take place in low temperature conditions in early 2015.
“The command staff and operators have completed training at the multiservice drone control center in the Moscow region. Before the end of the current year, specialists with several Orlan-10 sets will arrive at the permanent service base - the Anadyr-Ugolny aerodrome,” Russia’s military press service told Tass.
The Orlan-10 drones will be used for surveillance and conducting inspection over Russia's territorial waters. They will also be used in combat training tasks near the maritime zone along the shore of the Arctic Ocean, Tass reported, adding that Russia’s defense ministry is planning to build 13 airdromes and 10 radars in the Arctic.
The deployment of drones to the Arctic comes at a time when the Russian government plans to upgrade its navy and air force as part of a broader plan to hold sway over the waterway emerging from the melting of polar ice. For this, Russia is looking to add 40 warships and purchase 150 new aircraft for its Arctic Forces, Business Insider reported.
Meanwhile, a senior official in the Russian army announced Monday that a "joint air and air defense army" will be formed and deployed in the Arctic in 2015 in order to increase the country’s presence in the region.
“The united strategic command in the Arctic is currently based on Russia's Northern Fleet, which is responsible for ensuring security in the region in all forms of armed conflict,” Ria Novosti quoted the official as saying to Rossiya-24 television. “We have already assigned an air defense division to the fleet, and we will form a joint air and air defense army there.”
The latest developments came after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in November that Moscow was planning to set up the headquarters of its Arctic Command at a naval base used by the Northern Fleet. Putin said at the time that the new facility will become operational on Dec. 1.