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Russia to deploy Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback bombers in Arctic.

| 2021

The Russian Defense Ministry will deploy a squadron of Su-34 frontline bombers at airfields in Franz-Joseph Land Archipelago and Novosibirsk Islands. Infrastructure is being built there to accommodate them. The bombers will reinforce Russian defense in the Arctic and along the Northern Sea Route, the Izvestia daily quotes Defense Ministry sources as saying.

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Russia to deploy Sukhoi Su 34 Fullback bombers in Arctic Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback (Picture source: Wikipedia/Alex Beltyukov)

Infrastructure is being built at Nagurskoe and Temp airfields for Su-34 bombers, including closed and heated hangars, the sources said. Open sites are envisaged for Il-78 air tankers and Il-76 airlifters. Additional exercises of the tactical aviation will be held shortly and the aircraft will operate from the airfields.

Chief-of-staff of the 45th Air Force and defense army Major-General Igor Churkin said the upgraded airfield network in the Arctic promotes the engagement of Northern fleet aviation. It can control the airspace over the Northern Sea Route and ensure its security from the air.

Su-34 successfully completed Arctic trials in the spring of 2021. The bombers were temporarily redeployed to the Murmansk region from the Shagol airfield near Chelyabinsk. They trained to destroy ground, sea and air targets in extremely low temperatures. Onboard electronic equipment was also tested. “Su-34 can fire precision weapons at ground and sea targets. From Nagurskoe and Temp airfields they can engage in patrol and reconnaissance at major distances. Air groups of four bombers are likely to be deployed in the islands. It is much more difficult to deploy a whole squadron in extreme conditions,” expert Dmitry Boltenkov said.

Military infrastructure development program in the Arctic has overhauled and built 13 airfields and airstrips in the islands and mainland Russia. A concrete airstrip began operating in Alexandra Land Island of Franz-Joseph Land Archipelago in May 2020. Nagurskoe airfield is located close to Arctic Trilistnik base and is being developed. All types of aircraft, including heavy airlifters and strategic bombers, can land on the 3.5-km long airstrip. Il-76 airlifter with paratroopers and MiG-31 fighter jets have already landed on Alexander Land Island. In March, one of the fighter jets for the first time flew to the North Pole for training missions and returned home with two air refuelings.

A similar airfield is built on Kotelny Island, Novosibirsk Archipelago, near Severny Klever base.

In January 2021, the Defense Ministry said fighter jets went on combat duty at overhauled Rogachevo airfield in Novaya Zemlya. MiG-31BMs and seaborne MiG-29Ks rotate there. MiG-31BMs were also deployed in Anadyr in Chukotka. They have several times followed US reconnaissance aircraft that came close to the Russian border.

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