An Antonov AN-74 at Gostomel airport (Antonov) in Ukraine in September 2008 (Image © Dmitry A. Mottl / Released in the public domain)

Russia re-militarised Arctic drift camp

An Antonov AN-74 at Gostomel airport (Antonov) in Ukraine in September 2008 (Image © Dmitry A. Mottl)
An Antonov AN-74 at Gostomel airport (Antonov) in Ukraine in September 2008
(Image © Dmitry A. Mottl)

Russian Airborne Troops and the Russian Air Force have re-militarised a polar station drifting on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean on Tuesday 8 April 2014. The landing of 90 paratroopers jumping from Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft was confirmed to Russian press agency ITAR-TASS by Lt. Col. Yevgeny Meshkov of the Airborne Troops.

Camp Barneo, located at the 89th northern latitude, is only 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the North Pole. The now officially reopened location has no room for big aircraft like the IL-76s used to airdrop troops in, but the airfield on the float ice can accommodate smaller STOL transport aircraft like Antonov AN-74s and helicopters. Mi-8s are regularly deployed in the Arctics. Aircraft like the IL-76s can deliver necessary supplies or reinforcement by parachute, like they did on Tuesday.

The Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed two or more IL-76s took off from Ivanovo (Moscow region) to execute the mission. The paratroopers and their gear are said to have been picked up at Olenya (Murmansk Region). It is not certain if the re-opening of Camp Barneo is temporarily or permanent. Russian floating polar research stations had to be closed down during the last couple of years because of melting and unstable ice.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

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