As Russian submarine activity, in particular, reaches Cold War levels in the Arctic and the North Atlantic, Britain’s Arctic Strategy is unfolding as one of a number of initiatives from NATO and regional nations to limit their potential adversary’s options.
In 2020 the nine P-8 POSEIDON maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) on order will be delivered to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. At this point, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced during a recent visit to UK troops in Norway, “they will begin reconnaissance patrols over a wide range including the High North and North Atlantic.”
The Defence Arctic Strategy, due to be published this spring, “puts us on the front foot in protecting Britain’s interests in this expanding new frontier [….] Whether it’s sharpening our skills in sub-zero conditions, learning from longstanding allies like Norway or monitoring submarine threats with our POSEIDON aircraft, we will stay vigilant to new challenges,” he stated.
Under the strategy, the Royal Marines have committed to a 10-year training programme with their Norwegian counterparts, which will see around 1,000 Marines travelling North each year. A long-term NATO ally, Norway is also a fellow member of the Joint Expeditionary Force and Northern Group – two initiatives through which the UK is enhancing its co-operation with key northern European partners.
Elsewhere in the region this year, RAF TYPHOONs will guard NATO’s northern flank as part of the Icelandic Air Policing mission.