Northern Fleet Military Digest – Issue 6 – 13 – 19 November 2023 (Free access)
Key takeaways from last week’s developments
- Equipment preparations for the winter training period continued to take place in the Northern Fleet;
- Northern Fleet’s missile battalion operating coastal defence systems deployed to the training combat positions and carried out electronic (simulated) missile launches;
- Northern Fleet’s naval aviation took part in the Russian strategic long-range aviation exercise over the Norwegian and Barents Seas;
- Northern Fleet’s rescue vessel conducted a search and rescue exercise involving its onboard deep-submergence rescue vehicle;
- Polar logistics vessel returned to the White Sea following its deployment to the Arctic, presumably for cargo delivery to Russian military facilities in the region.
Last week, the Press Service of the Northern Fleet reported about several activities carried out by the Northern Fleet’s sub-units in the Arctic. First of all, the missile battalions operating coastal defence system stationed in the northernmost military complex in the Franz Josef Land archipelago (Alexandra Land island) conducted electronic (simulated) missile launches, which suggests that such forces with anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities maintain high combat readiness. Moreover, the Northern Fleet’s naval aviation participated in the strategic long-range aviation exercise over the Barents and Norwegian Seas. This proves the crucial role of the Northern Fleet in protecting Russian interests in the region.
The Press Service of the Northern Fleet also reported that the preparations of military equipment for the winter training period had been completed. According to the press release, Northern Fleet sub-units prepared all military vehicles and weapons systems to operate in low temperatures.
Ground domain activities
On Tuesday (06NOV), Northern Fleet’s missile battalion operating 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 on Franz Josef Land archipelago (Alexandra Land Island). According to the press release, the deployed battalion 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.
Air domain activities
On Tuesday (14NOV), Northern Fleet’s Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft from the 403rd Mixed Aviation Regiment (Severomorsk-1 naval air base) carried out maritime patrol (reconnaissance flight) over the Barents Sea area. Similarly, two days later, a Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft from the 73rd Independent Air Squadron (Fedotovo air base) conducted the same task over the Barents Sea area. Both sorties preceded the Russian long-range aviation exercise.
On Thursday (16NOV), a Tu-160 (subordinate to the 22nd Heavy Aviation Division) and Tu-22M3 strategic bomber aircraft (presumably subordinate to the Northern Fleet’s 40th Mixed Aviation Regiment) escorted by Northern Fleet’s naval aviation MiG-31 interceptor/attack aircraft and Su-30SM multirole fighters conducted a long-range flight over the Barents and Norwegian Seas. The video published by the Russian Ministry of Defence also suggests the involvement of at least one Il-78 tanker aircraft.
The following day, NATO Air Command reported that the F-35 multirole fighters from the Royal Norwegian Air Force intercepted the Russian task group. According to the press release, Norwegian fighters identified two Tu-160 strategic bombers, two MiG-31 interceptors and two Il-78 tankers close to the Norwegian airspace.
Naval domain activities
On Tuesday (14NOV), the Northern Fleet’s Mikhail Rudnitsky-class (Project 05360) rescue ship Mikhail Rudnitsky conducted a search and rescue exercise using its onboard deep-submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV), Priz-class (Project 1855) DSRV AS-34. The main focus was on the DSRV manoeuvring practice. The activity took place in Kola Bay.
At the beginning of the previous week, the Northern Fleet’s Project 550 large sea-going dry-cargo transport ship, Yauza, deployed to the Barents Sea and headed North. Yauza is commonly known as a polar logistics vessel. On 10NOV, Yauza approached the Novaya Zemlya island. The purpose of the deployment remains unknown. The ship would likely deliver cargo to the Russian military facilities on the island. On Thursday (16NOV), Yauza returned to the White Sea and most likely entered one of the Northern Fleet’s naval bases the following days.