Russia has announced plans to build a drone base for military reconnaissance in a town just 420 miles off mainland Alaska and just over 300 miles off the US state’s St Lawrence Island, Russia’s state news agency reported on Thursday.
“The command of the eastern military district in charge of the military development of the Arctic zone has moved forward with plans to form an unmanned aerial vehicle division,” Alexandr Gordeev, spokesperson for the district said.
The new base’s key objective will be to provide air reconnaissance for the Russian navy in its eastern waters which directly border U.S. waters.
The stretch of land known as the continental shelf which remains out of the reach of any of the five countries is speculated to be rich in gas and oil.
This latest move is also part of a long-term strategy on Russia’s part of modernising its military with unmanned air vehicles. General major Edward Cherkasov also announced today the armed forces’ Chemical Corps is also developing a drone programme.
Moscow intends to modernise its specialist branch, which deals with chemical, biological and nuclear threats, by updating 70% of its facilities to improve efficiency of operation and long distance reconnaissance, Cherkasov added.
Last month, Russian armed forces presented the latest addition to their drone arsenal in the form of the “weatherproof” Zala 421-08M, developed to be easily carried by land infantry and remain airborne for up to 100 hours at a time.
Larger drones for the Russian military are also under development, with a 30kg version of the Zala which can stay airborne for longer carrying more weight, while earlier this spring Russian state television unveiled a long endurance, army drone with the capability of performing strike missions called the UAV Altius 001.
Full article: Russia to Open Arctic Military Drone Base 420 Miles off the Alaskan Coast (Newsweek)