Judging by the most threatening postures that the Russian Armed Forces have taken in recent weeks in the Arctic, the Pentagon has managed to find the real Achilles’ heel of Russia in the western strategic direction.
How did it happen? It’s just that the newest American high-precision air-launched cruise missiles are now only a few tens of minutes of flight time from the main bases of the Russian nuclear submarine missile cruisers of the Northern Fleet. Thus, for us in these parts, in fact, today the situation of the most ferocious era of the Cold War is almost reproduced. This is when the States, if you remember, deployed their medium-range ballistic Pershing-2s on the European continent. They were flying before the Soviet frontiers – very few people would have had time to read Our Father in Moscow.
Something similar happened right now, when the other day four supersonic strategic bombers with variable geometry B-1 B “Lancer” from Texas Airbase Dyes flew to the Orland military airfield near the city of Trondheim in southern Norway. From this airbase (by the way, built by the hands of 10 thousand Soviet prisoners of war during the Second World War for Hitler’s pilots who fought with oceanic convoys of the Allies) to the state border of the Russian Federation is only about one thousand kilometers. For “Lancer” (maximum flight speed 1,330 km / h or Mach 1.25) – less than an hour flying.
Let us take into account that these jet monsters do not even need to fly up to the very borders of the Russian Federation (and, therefore, to the zone of our air defense system on the Kola Peninsula). Since each B-1 B under its belly carries 24 of the most modern anti-ship cruise missiles AGM-158C LRASM (adopted by the US Air Force recently, in December 2018) with a launch range of up to 480 kilometers. So the second half of the journey from Orland to the berths of Russian nuclear-powered ships in Gadzhievo or to the headquarters of the Northern Fleet in Severomorsk, this predatory “flock”, also made using the “stealth” technology and capable of bending around the folds of the terrain at extremely low altitude, is able to overcome independently.
According to American experts, the combined power of a potential surprise missile strike of just one Lancer quartet with a hundred AGM-158C LRASM in the fight against enemy ships is comparable to the firepower of an aircraft wing of a full-fledged American aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, the Pentagon can bring several dozen such aircraft to the Arctic from its territory. After all, the US Air Force has 67 B-1 B bombers. You get nervous here when most of the naval component of the Russian nuclear triad may be under water right at the berths before the command “Dive!” Sounds for them.
According to Washington, the mission of the squadron that has already ended up at Orland Air Base will only last about a month. But then, as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Charles Brown, the Americans are going to send them to replace them. In order, as General Brown put it, to ensure “operational unpredictability.”
The Russian General Staff began to respond to a new, very serious threat even before the Lancers began to warm up their engines in order to take off from Texas. On February 9, a pair of our Tu-160 supersonic strategic bombers, accompanied by MiG-31 interceptor fighters, made a lot of rustling over the waters of the Barents, Norwegian and Greenland seas. For the first time in recent years, Norwegian F-16 fighters were raised to intercept them from the Buda airfield.
Since the final point of the 12-hour flight of our Tu-160s turned out to be Greenland, Western military experts are confident that the Russians, for edifying purposes, were practicing a missile strike against the largest American airbase, Tula, located in these parts. And on the way back, they conditionally attacked the same Norwegian airfield Orland, where the overseas guests of Oslo were just going to settle.
A little more than a week passed and Moscow’s military pressure on Oslo intensified even more. In the middle of this week, a Russian-initiated international NOTAM notice to flight crews was issued warning of a dangerous area north of mainland Norway from 18 to 24 February. More specifically, we are talking about the area where the most important NATO anti-submarine line is the North Cape – Bear Island. The essence of the Russian warning is that the missile cruiser of the Northern Fleet Marshal Ustinov intends to fire in these latitudes at the specified time.
Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Defense Research Institute (FFI) Christian Otland In an interview with fellow journalists, he made it clear that he got it right: “Given the time and place of the Russian missile tests, as well as the expected arrival of American B-1 B bombers, missile exercises may well be a signal.”
The rocket fire of “Marshal Ustinov” really cannot be interpreted otherwise than a warning. Because usually the same ones are held far from these places – in the training grounds of the Northern Fleet in the Barents Sea. You don’t have to stomp so far from your bases to conduct such combat training events.
Little of. The North Cape-Bear border takes a special place on any operational maps of the North Sea. Because it was built many decades ago by the Americans to prevent the secret breakthrough of our nuclear submarines from the Kola Peninsula into the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, in the event of war, the main task of all surface ships of the Northern Fleet is to assist fellow submariners in crossing the line by destroying NATO’s anti-submarine capabilities in this area. And now Marshal Ustinov is working on this with all clarity, together with the aviation of the Northern Fleet in the immediate vicinity of Norway. Almost certainly – with the participation of one or more multipurpose nuclear missile submarines of the Northern Fleet. And that there is not a word about their presence in the exercise area in the official messages of the RF Ministry of Defense, it is a common practice of the Navy of any country.
And further. The area of the announced exercises of the Northern Fleet is located between 22nd and 25th degrees east longitude. These places are very rich in valuable fish, so there is usually a lot of trawlers there. First of all – Norwegian. Now their captains are simply forced to curtail the fishery until February 24 and move away. The loss of time and money will surely make the Scandinavian fishermen think more about the causes of the tension in the Arctic waters. And the formation of a favorable public opinion for Moscow in the neighboring country can be considered a concomitant task of the cruiser Marshal Ustinov and those who interact with him.
Something in this direction has already started to move. Anyway, Senior Fellow at the Center for Military Research at the University of Copenhagen Christian Cebu Christensen is already cautiously complaining about the US actions in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen: “On the one hand, we are interested in making it clear to Russia that we have a strong alliance with the United States, sending it restraining signals to maintain the balance of power in the region. On the other hand, no one wants to unnecessarily aggravate an already tense situation. But the US is hard to refuse. You have to pay for an alliance with the Americans. “
What, interestingly, is Christensen agreeing to pay for the dubious honor of uncomplainingly following in the Pentagon’s fairway? Only restless sleep at night under the gun of Russian missiles, which will inevitably be aimed at Orland airbase until the US Lancers get out of there? Or the complete destruction of their country in the event that the Pentagon, on one not the best day, nevertheless lifts planes into the air to strike at Russian nuclear submarines?