With Russia working to expand its military foothold in the Arctic, it stands to reason that warfare of the future may indeed spill over in to the frigid North, where climate change has made travel in the region more viable. Currently, the Arctic accounts for some ten percent of Russia’s total GDP, and its president seems to think that trend will continue to climb.
“Climate change brings in more favorable conditions and improves the economic potential of this region,” Vladimir Putin said of the Arctic in March. “Today, Russia’s GDP is the result of the economic activity of this region.”
In order to protect what Putin claims is as much $30 trillion worth of natural resources waiting to be pulled from beneath the Arctic ice, Russia has been building new military installations and supply lines throughout the region. Their presence also serves to reaffirm Russian claims to Arctic territory. This poses a number of concerns for those in the West, not the least of which being the potential for Russian ICBM’s being launched from the Arctic Circle – as current missile defense strategies were not designed to defend from such a strike.
It’s with these sorts of threats in mind that the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing has been using its fleet of ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules aircraft to conduct training missions on the Greenland Ice Cap, with their sights set on honing their ability to conduct flight operations into treacherous arctic territory, as well as the ability to survive while they’re there.