Britain deploys ‘submarine hunter’ aircraft after Putin ramps up naval warfare

Ukraine invasion to mark end of 'arrogant' Putin says Ben Wallace

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The aircraft will be despatched in the Arctic. This comes as Russian naval activity has reportedly reached “Cold War levels” in the North Atlantic. The P-8 Maritime Patrol planes, deployed as part of the UK’s new Arctic Strategy, are designed to “hunt” submarines.

The planes use specialist surveillance technology to locate submarines, including radar and an acoustic sensor system, before alerting NATO warships.

They are also armed with torpedoes for engaging sub-surface targets.

The Arctic Strategy, which sets out the country’s military operations in the region for the next decade, was published during Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s trip to Norway.

Mr Wallace visited the country to observe Exercise Cold Response, a military exercise involving 30,000 NATO troops – the biggest cold-weather exercise in three decades.

The strategy points to new threats and challenges triggered by melting Arctic ice, which has caused Russia to feel “sensitive to the risks associated with reduced sea ice cover on its northern flank”.

It added that Russia views the Arctic as being “strategically important”.

The report notes that the country now conducts as many submarine patrols as the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Since 2016, Russia has also reopened two Arctic naval bases, Franz Josef Land and Kotelny Island.

The strategy said: “While this activity is not in and of itself a breach of international law, it presents challenges which impact upon the interests of the UK, our Allies and partners, and the inhabitants of the Arctic, and to which we must be vigilant and prepared to respond”.

A defence source told the Telegraph that the militarization of the Arctic was led by Russia, claiming that the UK and NATO intervened to maintain international law.

Russia launched its own Arctic Strategy in 2008.

The last of the P-8 planes were delivered to RAF Lossiemouth in January, replacing the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft which was decommissioned in 2010.

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The Arctic Strategy also outlined plans for “cold weather warfare training” in countries such as Norway and the United States.

It said: “In addition to cold weather warfare training in Norway, the UK will seek to take advantage of further invitations and conduct cold-weather training in Canada, Finland and the United States on a regular basis.

“In support of these capabilities, UK Defence will examine options to bolster its cold-weather capability to ensure that Arctic-appropriate equipment, activity, environmental support and infrastructure are all developed and maintained.”

In a statement, Ben Wallace also noted the increasing military capabilities of China in the Arctic.

He said: “Melting sea ice in the Arctic brings both opportunities and threats, with Russia taking an increasingly militarized approach to the region and China supporting its proposed Polar Silk Road with a range of infrastructure and capabilities with dual-use potential.

“As the region becomes increasingly accessible, threats from elsewhere around the globe could spill over into the Arctic.”

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