ARCTIC NATION: Big Multi-Service Exercise coming to Alaska; NORAD Tracks Russian Spy Planes;

April 4, 2021 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

DEFENSE

Exercise Northern Edge.

U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps personnel will be participating in Exercise Northern Edge 21 across Alaska this Spring, according to Pacific Air Forces, a unit of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The exercise, held in odd-numbered years, will take place May 3-14 at several military installations, as well as local airports and training areas around Alaska.

The exercise provides realistic war fighter training, develops and improves joint services interoperability and enhances combat readiness, Pacific Air Forces announced, adding that details on participating units and exercise locations will be released as it becomes available.

Marines with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 7, conduct a training raid using air-delivered Polaris MRZR 4 all-terrain vehicles during exercise Northern Edge 2019 at Fort Greely, Alaska.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Rhita Daniel)

More than 25 units, 10,000 personnel, almost 200 aircraft and five naval ships — including the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt — participated in Northern Edge 2019.

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Russian Spy Planes

The Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Region reported on March 29 that it positively identified and tracked two Tu-142 Russian maritime patrol aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.

The Russian aircraft, which operated in international airspace, did not entered United States or Canadian sovereign airspace, and Alaska Command did not indicate whether U.S. or Canadian aircraft scrambled to intercept the big four engine Russian planes.

Russian Navy Tu-142 patrol aircraft, known as Bear. (Photo by Fedor Leukhin – _MG_0277, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26608395)

Captain Lauren Ott, director of public affairs for Alaskan Command, said the Russian planes came within 60 nautical miles of the Alaskan coastline. By international convention, a nations’ sovereign territory extends 12 miles from the coast, Medill News Service (via the Military.com website) reported.

It was at least the second time this year that Tu-142s have entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), after a similar incident in January. In 2020, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducted more intercepts than in recent years, as Russia repeatedly flew bombers, maritime patrol aircraft, early warning aircraft, and fighters into the region, according to Air Force magazine.

NORAD’s commander, Air Force General Glen VanHerck — who also leads U.S. Northern Command — said Russia’s expanding activities in the Arctic region was due to the current great power competition.

“We’re back in the peer competition,” he told a March 31st Defense Writers Group discussion. “Clearly, Russia is trying to reassert on a global stage their influence and their capabilities. That’s exactly what’s going on. It’s great power competition,” he said, according to the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) website. He added: “The difference between the past and now is the intercepts are more complex – multi-axis, multi-platforms and often times they’ll enter the ADIZ and stay for hours,” USNI reported.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Service Committee on March 16, VanHerck said the escalation “of Russian activity and Chinese ambitions in the region demonstrates the strategic importance of the Arctic. Competition will only increase as sea ice diminishes and competition for resources expands.”

“These Russian military operations include multiple flights of heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence collection platforms near Alaska. These efforts show both Russia’s military reach and how they rehearse potential strikes on our homeland,” VanHerck said in written testimony.

“Last summer, the Russian Navy focused its annual OCEAN SHIELD exercise on the defense of Russia’s maritime approaches in the Arctic and Pacific. The multi-fleet exercise, intended in part to demonstrate Russia’s ability to control access to the Arctic through the Bering Strait, included amphibious landings on the Chukotka Peninsula opposite Alaska, as well as anti-submarine patrols and anti-ship cruise missile launches from within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone,” the testimony added.

In a first for the Russian navy, three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines surfaced simultaneously breaking the Arctic ice during drills, according to the commander-in-chief of the Russian fleet at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Reuters news service reported March 26.

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B-1 Bombers in Norway

A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron sits on the flightline at Ørland Air Force Station, Norway, March 14, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell)

U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, were deployed to Orland Air Base, Norway, for the first time in a bomber task deployment which included several firsts in the Arctic and across Europe.

During the deployment, which ended March 25, the B-1s flew nine sorties, including training with Norwegian F-35s, Swedish JAS-39 Gripens, Danish and Polish F-16s, and German and Italian Eurofighter Typhoons, according to U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

The Lancers conducted a hot-pit refueling in Europe for the first time, and trained with U.S. special operations forces along with Norwegian and Swedish joint terminal attack controllers, according to Air Force magazine.

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ENVIRONMENT.

Arctic Lightning Strikes

As the Arctic warms at an alarming rate, the frequency of lightning is also changing, according to a new University of Washington study, CNN reports. In fact, Arctic lightning has tripled in just the last decade, according to the study, published in late March in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

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Warmer Arctic Waters and the LNG Market

The discovery and extraction of vast liquefiable natural gas reserves on the Yamal peninsula in Siberia in the past decade has renewed interest in bulk transport on the waters of the high north, according to The Economist.

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Nuclear attack submatine USS Toledo (SSN-769) surfaced in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region describes the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation.

Entry filed under: Air and Missile Defense, Air Force, Aircraft, Arctic, ARCTIC NATION, Army, Asia-Pacific, climate change, HIGH NORTH, Marine Corps, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training, Technology, U.S. Navy, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (April 2, 2021) FRIDAY FOTO (April 9, 2021)

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