The US Air Force’s 435th Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) survey team has reported conducting an assessment of the Jan Mayen airfield, located on an island between Greenland and Norway and operated by the latter, with the aim of choosing it to serve as a base for its future operations. The team checked to see if the airstrip meets the standards needed to land US military aircraft.
"The 435th CRS was there to conduct a landing zone survey and assessment so C-130J Super Hercules aircraft can land at the Jan Mayen airfield in order to provide transport and resupply to the station located there", Kyle Yeager, the 435th CRS contingency response radio frequency transmissions supervisor, said.
The survey team was also accompanied by the 435th Security Forces Squadron, which also evaluated the airstrip in terms of meeting the security requirements set by the US military.
Speaking about the plans for a possible future deployment on the island, Yeager stated that the US would be using it for exercises with its allies in the region to enhance cooperation and "identify potential challenges or shortfalls" when operating in Arctic environments. The report by the US Air Force also stressed that the Jan Mayen airstrip is strategically located along sea routes used by Russian Navy ships and submarines to access the Atlantic Ocean from the Arctic.
The US has recently actively been trying to prevent Moscow from expanding its activities in the Arctic, regardless of whether they are military, economic, or scientific in nature. One media report even suggested that the US would build a designated military base in the Arctic to counter Russia's presence in the region. It's unclear, however, how such operations would be implemented considering the fact that the US currently has only one operational icebreaker at its disposal.
Moscow has dismissed the US objectives and has so far been successfully pushing a UN-bid to expand its sovereignty over larger areas in the Arctic.