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Russia Starting Construction of Naval Base in Kuril Islands
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Kuril Islands Sea of Okhotsk map

Russia is beginning to build a naval base on the Kurile Islands. It will be located on Matua Island in the central part of the archipelago, expert Anatoly Ivanko writes in the Military-Industrial Courier. The base has a major military-strategic significance. The existing runway will get infrastructure and will be used as a jump-up airfield for Tu-22M3 bombers which will fly from there to distant areas of the Pacific Ocean.

 
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Naval Forces News - Russia
 
 
 
Russia Starting Construction of Naval Base in Kuril Islands
 
Russia is beginning to build a naval base on the Kurile Islands. It will be located on Matua Island in the central part of the archipelago, expert Anatoly Ivanko writes in the Military-Industrial Courier. The base has a major military-strategic significance. The existing runway will get infrastructure and will be used as a jump-up airfield for Tu-22M3 bombers which will fly from there to distant areas of the Pacific Ocean.
     
Kuril Islands Sea of Okhotsk mapThe Kuril Islands are a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) northeast from Hokkaido, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the north Pacific Ocean.
     
The base will be important for the deployment of Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines as the aircraft deployed there will monitor US submarines in the area. Thus, it will provide additional protection for the submarine base in Vilyuchinsk. Antisubmarine helicopters will control the passage to the Sea of Okhotsk and will minimize the capability of NATO submarines to sail into it.

Former Northern fleet Commander Admiral Vyacheslav Popov agreed that Russia needs a naval base on Kurile Islands. The ridge closes the Sea of Japan and the warships from the mainland base have to sail through straits between Russian islands and Hokkaido. "A base there means direct access to the Pacific Ocean. It is one thing when warships can enter the ocean through a bottleneck of straits. It means they are locked in the base. And it is another thing when there is direct access to the ocean. It considerably increases defense capability," he said.

Unfortunately, the major infrastructure created on Matua Island by the Japanese in the last century, including the underground facility, a big airfield and a network of roads and a railway branch is no longer fit for use and cannot be restored. Up to 2001 there was a border post on the island but it became uninhabited after that.
At present the 18th machine-gun-artillery division, a unique formation in the Russian army, is deployed on the Kuriles with reinforcement units on Iturup and Kunashir. Coastal complexes Bal (Kunashir) and Bastion (Iturup) have been recently deployed on the islands. But they are insufficient to ensure anti-landing defense of all the islands. Naval and air components are necessary. But it is a sophisticated combat complex which includes early warning radars and all targeting means.
     
Kuril Islands Russia baseThe Kuril Islands, showing the de facto division between Japan and Russia over time. The new base will be located on Matua Island in the central part of the archipelago.
     
The naval base is likely to have several diesel-electric submarines of project 636.3. The demand for surface warships includes destroyers of project 956, corvettes of project 20380, one-two coast guard squadrons. The island location of the base will also demand various supply vessels, such as icebreakers, tugboats and floating workshops. Unmanned boats are to be widely used for patrolling coastal waters of the Kurile range. Unmanned underwater craft capable of navigating for indefinite time will play a major role. It is difficult to find a replacement for them as they collect all information about the situation and can carry military payload, including nuclear one.

Early detection and tracking of adversary naval forces on advancing routes play a growing role in fighting landing operations. For this aim the base will have one or two AWACS A-50U aircraft to guide combat aircraft to the strike area and expose major targets.

The base on Matua is likely to have a Tu-22M3 regiment and a coastal air group comprising antisubmarine Tu-142, Il-20, Il-38 and Il-38N, MiG-31 fighter jets, An-12, An-24, An-26 airlifters and Mi-8, Mi-24 and Ka-31 helicopters.
     
Kuril Islands Russia MatuaMatua Island as seen from Raikoke. Picture by Eliezg.
     
The defense of the islands will be ensured by such weapons, as Bal and Bastion, S-300 and S-400 which are already operational in the area. Together with the naval base capabilities they will turn the Kuriles into an unassailable fortress.

And finally, the base will fulfill the main mission of the fleet to protect combined arms operational directions in the straits around the islands and peninsulas, such as Kamchatka and Sakhalin-Kurile directions, as well as to defend Pacific fleet infrastructure and strategic objects on the Pacific coast and civilian navigation in its northwestern part.

Experts believe it is necessary to mount complex security of Russian islands and access to the Sea of Okhotsk due to constantly growing outside threats which are often orchestrated by the United States. The position of Russian neighbors can change with time but advanced armaments and a full-fledged naval base on Kuriles Islands will never be something odd in any political balance of forces, expert Anatoly Ivanko writes in the Military-Industrial Courier.

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