Moscow says it will build drone bases along Arctic coast

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - April 16, 2024
The Russian Orion drone is manufactured by the Kronshtadt company. Photo:

Several bases for long-range drones will be built along the Northern Sea Route, a representative of the Russian Defence Ministry says to newspaper Izvestia.

According to the state-controlled newspaper, drones of the model Inokhodets and Forpost will ultimately fly patrols over Russia’s vast Arctic waters. Bases are planned built several places along the Arctic coast, as well as in Kamchatka, the Kremlin-loyal media reports.

The unmanned aircraft will do surveillance of the sea and airspace. They will also take part in search and rescue operations, Izvestia informs.

The Inokhodets drone is part of the Orion project developed by company Kronshtadt. It has a 16,3 meter wide wing span and can reportedly fly up to 24 hours with a 60 kg load. It was first tested in 2016. It can carry up to 180 kg of load, which is about the equivalent of six KAB-20 guided bombs.

The Forpost drone is based on the Israeli Searcher-II and can reportedly fly up to 400 km. The first Forpost was manufactured at the Ural Civil Aviation Plant in 2012 and has since been applied by the Russian Armed Forces in Syria and Ukraine.

Information about the planned bases comes only few days after Norway announced that it will build a base for long-range drones at its far northern island of Andøya. The base will be built together with the Americans and be the first of its kind outside the USA.

It is not clear exactly where Russia plans to build the Arctic drone bases, but one of the likely locations is the Kola Peninsula.

Drones have proved themselves a crucial part of modern warfare and are an key kind of weaponry applied in Moscow’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The Russian aggressors have lost vast numbers of equipment and manpower in Ukrainian drone attacks.

The Russians are increasingly concerned about drone attacks also in its north. In a recent exercise held by the Northern Fleet, the training scenario included a drone attack on the key military base of Severomorsk. Similarly, when two of the Northern Fleet’s new frigates last week conducted an exercise in the Barents Sea combat of enemy drones was key part of the training.

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

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