Northern Fleet Military Digest – Issue 1

As a trial, we would like to share with you our new product called Northern Fleet Military Digest. Its purpose is to track and analyse developments within Russia’s Northern Fleet. From Rochan’s perspective, it is another step towards expanding our coverage of the Russian Armed Forces.

Key takeaways from last week’s developments

  • Military personnel and equipment preparations for the winter training period continued in the Northern Fleet;
  • Northern Fleet’s activities focused on securing Russian interests in the Arctic;
  • Northern Fleet’s coastal defence system deployed to combat-training positions and carried out electronic (simulated) missile launches;
  • Ground component (motorised rifle sub-units) conducted a series of live-fire exercises;
  • Northern Fleet’s interceptor aircraft conducted air combat training;
  • Naval aviation actively supported efforts to check the status and control of the Arctic ice cover;
  • Northern Fleet’s hydrographic survey vessel continued to explore the seabed and glaciers in the Arctic;
  • Arctic Expeditionary Group completed its 64-day power projection deployment.

Executive summary

The efforts of all Northern Fleet’s components now focus on preparing military personnel and equipment for the winter training period, which will begin in early December. Last week, the Press Service of Northern Fleet informed about such activities performed by the 45th Air Force and Air Defence Army sub-units. Simultaneously, soldiers from the autumn conscription underwent basic training that would last until the end of November.

As winter approaches, the Northern Fleet (especially naval and air components) focuses now on supporting efforts aimed at checking the condition of the ice cover in the Russian part of the Arctic. Moreover, the Northern Fleet’s Arctic Expeditionary Group has just completed its deployment to the Arctic. During the 64-day cruise, the task group conducted a series of exercises, the purpose of which was to project the power and readiness to protect Russian interests in the region.

The Northern Fleet’s recent activities confirm the crucial role of the ability to navigate in the Arctic Ocean for the Russians. This applies in particular to the Northern Sea Route and the possibilities it opens up.

Ground domain activities

On Tuesday (10OCT), Northern Fleet’s K-300P Bastion-P (NATO reporting name ‘SS-C-5 Stooge’) coastal defence systems subordinate to the 536th Coastal Missile Brigade (536th CMB) left its permanent deployment area on alarm signal and moved towards combat-training positions presumably in the vicinity of (IVO) Olenya Guba. According to the press release, the deployed battalion/s carried out electronic (simulated) P-800 Oniks missile launches on potential enemy naval task groups at a distance of approximately 350 km. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) did not provide information about the number of military personnel and equipment participating in the activity. Hence, the number of battalions involved is unknown. Moreover, the Northern Fleet’s Arctic Expeditionary Group, operating at the moment in the Barents Sea area, took part in the exercise by identifying potential enemy targets.

On Saturday (14OCT), the Press Service of the Northern Fleet reported that the 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade’s (200th MRB) sub-units conducted live-fire exercises using small arms, machine guns and grenade launchers. The activity took place IVO Pechenga settlement (Pechengsky District). The number of military personnel and vehicles involved in the firings is unknown.

Date Lower echelon Higher echelon Event
10OCT Missile battalion/s 536th CMB Electronic (simulated) missile launches
14OCT 200th MRB 14th Army Corps Live-fire exercise

Table 1. Summary of Northern Fleet’s ground component activities carried out between 09-15OCT

Air domain activities

On Tuesday (10OCT), MiG-31 interceptor/attack aircraft from the 174th Fighter Aviation Regiment (174th FAR) conducted a training flight aimed at practising air combat at very high altitudes (more than 11,000 meters). According to the press release, Mig-31 took off to identify and intercept a potential enemy target violating Russian airspace. The air combat ended with the simulated use of MiG’s armament and the destruction of a potential intruder.

On Saturday (14OCT),  The Press Service of the Northern Fleet reported that Tu-142 aircraft from the 73rd Anti-Submarine Squadron performed a reconnaissance flight lasting over 10 hours, the purpose of which was to check the condition of the ice cover in the Barents Sea area.

Date Lower echelon Higher echelon Event
10OCT MiG-31 174th FAR Interception and air combat training
14OCT Tu-142 73rd Anti-Submarine Squadron Reconnaissance flight

Table 2. Summary of Northern Fleet’s air component activities carried out between 09-15OCT

Naval domain activities

On  Monday (09OCT), The Press Service of the Northern Fleet summarised Sibiryakov-class (Project 865) hydrographic survey vessel Romuald Muklevich’s recent activities. According to the press statement, Romuald Muklevich surveyed the seabed and glaciers IVO Ushakov Island, which contributed to updating the topographic maps of the Kara Sea. The vessel deployed to the Arctic on 02SEP. The ship’s positions determined on the basis of weather reports (HF radiograms) indicate that Muklevich operated IVO Novaya Zemlya last week.

On Thursday (12OCT), the Northern Fleet’s Arctic Expeditionary Group consisting of Udaloy I-class (Project 1155) guided-missile destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov, Ropucha-class (Project 775) landing ship Aleksandr Otrakovsky, Ingul-class (Project 1452) seagoing rescue tug Altay and Boris Chilikin-class (Project 1559V) large seagoing tanker Sergey Osipov entered the Severomorsk Naval Base completing its 64-day deployment to the Arctic, which aimed at Russian power projection in the region. During the deployment, the task group carried out a series of exercises focused on ensuring the protection of Russian economic interests and territories such as the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and Kotelny Island.

Map 1. Sibiryakov-class (Project 865) hydrographic survey vessel Romuald Muklevich positions in the Barents Sea between 09-15OCT (Sources: Sibiryakov positions, image – illustration purpose only)