05:05 GMT +326 June 2019
Listen Live
    US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft

    US Navy Mulls Moving Sub-Hunters to Alaska to Track China, Russia

    © AFP 2019 / Greg WOOD
    Military & Intelligence
    Get short URL
    5031

    The US Navy is considering whether to deploy submarine-hunting P-8 Poseidon aircraft to a Cold War-era base in Alaska in an effort to keep a closer eye on Chinese and Russian movements in the Arctic.

    "Our Russian friends are warming up five airstrips and 10,000 Spetsnaz troops [in the Arctic] for quote unquote search and rescue. The Chinese are up there. Everybody is up there," US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told lawmakers last week.

    "Everybody but us," fired back Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan.

    "If I had a at blank check for everything, it would be terrific to ice-harden ships, but with the demand we have right now it is unaffordable," Spencer said at a hearing December 14 before the Senate Armed Services Committee. But "we need to get up there. I can commit to the fact that we're trying to figure out how we do service that."

    After the hearing, Spencer told Breaking Defense that the airstrip on the island of Adak — a remote island hundreds of miles from the Alaskan coast on the Aleutian island chain — is in "great shape." In order to make the airfield useable for the Navy, the service branch would have to pay for hangar cleanup, but besides that, "it really isn't a big bill."

    Previously, Navy officials estimated some $1.3 billion would be needed to reopen the Adak base, but Spencer told lawmakers that the Navy could get away with spending less to get the base up and running.

    The Arctic region is estimated to hold 15 percent of the world's remaining oil and as much as 30 percent of global natural gas deposits.

    On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu acknowledged US plans in the Arctic at a year-end session held by the Russian Defense Ministry's board. "Since August, the second operational fleet of the US Navy is being created. Its main task will be to expand US military presence in the Arctic," Shoigu said.

    Russian Rear Admiral Viktor Kochemazov, head of combat training for the Russian Navy, said in 2017 that "in the future, we plan to further increase our presence in the Arctic region as a matter of national state security," Sputnik reported.

    Related:

    US Navy Confirms Arctic at Low Conflict Risk - Report
    Kalashnikov Concern Develops Outfit for Arctic Special Forces - Statement
    Russia's Rosatom to Order New Robot to Extract Minerals From Arctic Bottom
    Denmark, US Uneasy as China Eyes Greenlandic Oil as Part of Major Arctic Push
    US Scrapped Arctic Drills Fearing Only Russia Can Save Its Icebreaker - Official
    Tags:
    US Navy, Alaska
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik