Military Review

Military aviation in the Arctic: state and prospects

Military aviation in the Arctic: state and prospectsThe northern regions are of exceptional importance for the economy of our country. It produces or produces two thirds of the oil, 90% gas, over 90% nickel and cobalt, 60% copper. About 11% of the country's national income is formed in the arctic zone.

The Arctic is also extremely important for the global economy. According to estimates by the US Geological Survey, about 22% of undiscovered global hydrocarbon resources, including 13% of oil reserves and 30% of gas, lie here.

Interest in these resources is shown by both the states owning the Arctic territories (Russia, the USA, Canada, Norway and Denmark), and countries from other regions. The legal regime of many territories and resources of the Arctic is not always regulated by international agreements. The delimitation of a number of Arctic territories has yet to be made.

On the basis of a large complex of studies, Russia proves that the Lomonosov ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge are a direct continuation of the Siberian continental platform. If evidence is recognized, our country will be able to expand its economic zone in the Arctic Ocean by 1,2 million square meters. km

Another potentially controversial resource is the Northern Sea Route (NSR). From the point of view of the real state of affairs and legislation of Russia, it is the “national transport communication of the Russian Federation in the Arctic”. Today, its economic significance for the world economy is relatively small, but it will increase in the event of a projected release of this route from ice. It is in the interests of Russia to prevent the NSR from turning into a zone of uncontrolled shipping and corresponding economic and military rivalry.

Given the importance of the Arctic for Russia, the state has developed a number of basic documents on the economic, social and military development of the region. In 2008, the Foundations of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic for the period up to 2020 and beyond were adopted. In 2013, the Strategy for the Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and Ensuring National Security for the Period up to 2020 of the Year was approved.


The Arctic states agreed in 2008 that all differences will be resolved within the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, as events of the last 20 years show, Western countries are not inclined to comply with international law when they restrict their interests.

A number of states are seeking to reconsider the delimitation of the continental shelf in order to expand their exclusive economic zone at the expense of resource-rich territories. As part of the anti-Russian sanctions, Russia's participation in international projects for the development of the Arctic is limited.

Our neighbors do not agree with the current regime of the Northern Sea Route and strive to turn it into an international commercial transit route.

At the same time, in recent years, the West has taken a number of steps aimed at restoring its military potential in the Arctic, reduced after the end of the Cold War.

NATO military exercises, such as the Cold Response, which were discontinued in the 1990s, resumed on a regular basis. NATO states that do not have Arctic territories are involved in military activity. In the West, the possibility of creating military-political associations, whose area of ​​responsibility will be the Arctic, is being considered.

Of all the components of the military power of Western countries in the region, it is developing most rapidly aviation. This is understandable: in the conditions of the Arctic Ocean, the actions of other types of armed forces are limited by the complex ice situation, extended communications, and extremely complex logistics.

The western part of the Arctic zone of Russia is under the responsibility of NATO. It has a powerful air force deployed, including US, British, Danish and Norwegian aircraft.

The UK has a significant fleet of combat aviation, numbering about 210 aircraft. The Air Force core is 138 multifunctional Typhoon fighters, joined by the first F-35A fighters. The British Air Force also includes X-NUMX DRLO E-6D, 3 reconnaissance aircraft RC-2W and 135 convertible tankers A14 MRTT. This allows the Air Force to solve complex tasks at a considerable distance from the country.

Denmark in the 2016 year decided to replace the 30 F-16 fighters with the 27 F-35A, which will begin to enter the service after 2020 year. Danish F-16s are regularly transferred to Greenland to train in the Arctic.

Instead of the 57 F-16, regularly performing tasks in the Arctic, the Norwegian Air Force acquires the F-52A 35 fighter. The first two cars are received in 2015 year, the completion of deliveries is scheduled for 2024 year. The Norwegian F-35 will have significant strike capabilities due to NSM anti-ship missiles. From 2019, Norway will be able to use A330 MRTT tanker aircraft, which will allow fighters to operate at a large distance from the bases.

The northern and northeastern zones of Russia are under the responsibility of two US military commands: the Northern and the Pacific. The air and air defense forces of the first operate jointly with the Canadian Air Force under the command of NORAD. As part of the US Air Force for the actions in the Arctic responsible 11-I air army, stationed in Alaska.

Canada has 77 CF-18 fighters (F / A-18A / B), which regularly work out deployment in the Arctic zone. There is a discussion in the country about replacing them with new aircraft, which are likely to become F / A-18E / F. The plans for the development of the Air Force provided for the expansion of intelligence and transportation capabilities in the Arctic, including through the acquisition of unmanned systems.

The US Air Force has two permanent air bases in Alaska in the Arctic. On the basis of Elmendorf-Richardson deployed 36 fighter F-22A and 4 DRLO E-3. The F-16C / D fighters are constantly based at the Eielson base, which, after 2020, are planned to be replaced by the F-35A.

In the course of the Northern Land - 2017 exercise in May of this year, 180 combat and support aircraft of the US Air Force were deployed to a base in Alaska. As part of these exercises, the interaction of fifth-generation fighters of two types was tested: F-22A from the US Air Force and F-35B from the Marine Corps. By the way, in 2016, Su-30MKI fighters of the Indian Air Force flew from the Eielson base, who showed themselves well in the Red Flag Alaska exercises.

The scale of the exercises in Alaska demonstrate the potential of the US Air Force to build up an aviation force in the Arctic.

To the potential of the Air Force should add the capabilities of the US Navy, which can quickly deploy in the northern regions of the Atlantic and the Pacific one or two aircraft carrier groups. Each of them contains about 60 multi-purpose F / A-18E / F fighters and EW EA-18 fighters.

The US has plans to organize a permanent base of fighters in Iceland. In addition, in the event of an exacerbation of the situation, US combat aircraft may return to Thule Air Base in Greenland.

Among the advantages of the West should be attributed the great capabilities of reconnaissance and patrol aircraft. For example, the US Air Force has 55 drones RQ-4, capable of conducting reconnaissance at a distance of up to 5 thousand km from their bases. Since 2016, naval versions of these MQ-4C machines began to enter the Navy.


The Arctic has been and remains a critical region for maintaining the balance of nuclear deterrence. The shortest routes of an aerospace attack on Russia pass through the circumpolar regions. From the Arctic seas, it is possible to deliver a massive strike by sea-based and air-based cruise missiles in nuclear and non-nuclear equipment.

In the Arctic, Russian nuclear-powered submarines of strategic purpose conduct combat patrols, an attack on which will significantly damage the potential for nuclear deterrence.

To counter these threats, a powerful air defense system was created in the north of our country, which today is being restored with regard to new military factors. One of them is the rapid development of shipborne missile defense systems in the USA, which can be a threat to Russian strategic missiles on the most vulnerable - active - part of the trajectory.

It should be noted that the military strategy of our country in the north direction differs from the Soviet one. At that time, the Arctic was regarded as a region in which the tasks of repelling an aerospace attack were primarily addressed. The objects of protection were mainly located on the coast or deep in the territory of the USSR.

Today, and especially tomorrow, it is necessary to protect objects and water areas located within the economic zone and even beyond its borders. This objectively complicates the requirements for the capabilities of groups of forces and for the military infrastructure.

In view of the new realities and tasks, in 2014 a new association was created as part of the RF Armed Forces: the joint strategic command in the Arctic “North”. He was led by the commander of the North fleet Admiral Vladimir Korolev.

The task of the new command is to ensure the security of the Arctic region of Russia and the unified management of military forces and assets in the zone from Murmansk to Anadyr. The command structure includes submarine and surface forces, naval aviation, coastal troops and air defense. One of the priorities - the restoration of the aerospace defense system - is already being solved.

According to the Military Balance directory, for the time being, in quantitative terms, Russian aviation is inferior to Western forces in the Arctic region. At the same time, positive trends have emerged in increasing the composition and capabilities of the Northern Fleet aviation in recent years.

The structure of the newly formed Naval Aviation Regiment in 2013 – 2015 included shipboard MiG-29K / KUB fighters. The program of modernization of anti-submarine aircraft IL-38. As stated by the commander of the Russian Navy Aviation, Hero of Russia, Major-General Igor Kozhin, all Su-33 fighters will be upgraded to operate on naval and ground targets. At the end of 2016, the Maritime Aviation of the Northern Fleet was replenished with two Su-30CM multi-role fighters. It is expected that these aircraft in the coming years will replenish aviation parts of the fleet.

It should be noted that in a critical situation, the grouping in the Arctic can be strengthened by Aerospace Forces, a number of aviation units of which are oriented towards actions in the northern regions.


The Arctic, with its complex geographical and meteorological conditions, has special requirements for aviation technology. In the creation of such technology, Russia in recent years has been able to achieve significant progress.

Helicopters. In early July, the holding company "Helicopters of Russia" early handed over to the Russian military two Arctic transport and assault helicopters Mi-8AMTSH-VA. The first car of this type entered Kamchatka in the 2016 year.

Arctic Mi-8AMTSH-VA can be operated at temperatures up to minus 60 degrees Celsius. Thanks to the extra fuel tanks, the helicopter’s flight range exceeds 1400 km. If necessary, it can carry weapons similar to the Mi-8AMTSH, including the “Sturm” or “Attack” anti-tank guided missile and air-to-air Igla missiles. On the Mi-8AMTSH an airborne defense complex "Vitebsk" is being installed, protecting it from portable air defense systems.

When creating an arctic helicopter, special attention was paid to the improvement of navigation equipment, providing long flights over non-reference terrain.

UAVs. The first detachment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) was formed in the Northern Fleet back in 2013 year. Later he was reformed into a squadron. It was reported that in the future in the North an unmanned aircraft regiment would be formed. The squadron is armed with serial domestic systems “Orlan-10” and “Outpost”, intended mainly for reconnaissance.

Vice-Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, commander of the Northern Fleet, said in 2016 year: “So far, unmanned vehicles are mainly used for reconnaissance, surveillance and monitoring. In the future, we plan to work with machines equipped weapons».

Both developers of promising UAVs for the Ministry of Defense of Russia are Kronstadt and the MP Design Bureau. Simonov - announced the work on the Arctic drone. At the MAKS-2017 air show, the Kronstadt group for the first time presented the Orion-E UAV, which has a flight duration of over 24 hours and a mass of about a ton.

In 2017, the development of a civilian UAV "Altair" was announced by another leader of an unmanned unit, the Kazan MP OKB. Simonov. According to experts, Altair is a civilian version of a heavy UAV, which is being developed as part of the Altius-M program for the Russian Ministry of Defense. It will have a mass of about 7 tons and a payload of up to 2 tons. The Altair will have an extremely long range and flight duration - 10 thousand km and 48 hours. A UAV with such capabilities will be able to solve a wide variety of tasks anywhere in the Arctic.

Transport and special aircraft. If you do not think about the future, the current situation with transport aircraft in the Arctic does not look threatening. The fleet existing in the VKS and Naval Aviation of the Russian Navy is sufficient for most tasks. It is based on Il-76 heavy transport airplanes (existing and manufactured by Il-76MD-90А), medium An-12 and light An-72 and An-26.

The problem is that the resource of the majority of "wahs" is approaching exhaustion. In addition, to support aircraft designed and built (mostly) by Ukrainian aircraft factories, it is becoming increasingly difficult.

Hope is inspired by urgent measures aimed at intensifying the development of the Il-112В light military transport aircraft and restoring the production of the improved Il-114-300 passenger aircraft. Flight tests of these aircraft should begin in 2018 – 2019, deliveries - at the beginning of 2020-s.

IL-114, as noted by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, will replace the line of Antonov Design Bureau cars in the Arctic. In addition, IL-114 is considered as the basis for the creation of special aircraft. The head of the UAC, Yury Slyusar, said: “We expect that the IL-114 will be used as a platform for all sorts of special complexes: reconnaissance, patrolling, monitoring. We are considering the option of skiing, for use in the arctic zones and as a patrol and rescue vehicle. "

The creation of new patrol and anti-submarine aircraft in Russia is highly relevant, since the existing IL-38, modernized IL-38Н and Tu-142МК will exhaust their resources in the medium term.

Impact aircraft. Today, the basis of the strike potential of Russia, including to the north, is made up of long-range aircraft and front-line bombers Su-24M and Su-34.

Russia is building up the capabilities of the strategic missile-carriers Tu-160 and Tu-95MS, which, in addition to participating in nuclear deterrence, can perform tasks in local and regional non-nuclear conflicts.

The next step will be the modernization of long-range Tu-22М3 bombers, one of the most important tasks of which is the fight against enemy ship groups, including aircraft carriers. According to the statement of the general director of Tupolev, Alexander Konyukhov, the flight tests of the Tu-22М3М will begin in the 2018 year.

In the longer term, Long-Range Aviation will receive strategic missile-carriers Tu-160М2 and then promising aviation complexes.

Air defense fighters. Since the USSR, the main interceptor fighter in the North has been the MiG-31. He provided for the interception of US cruise missiles that could be launched from strategic bombers and submarines.

In recent years, the MiG-31 actively used in exercises in the northern regions of Russia. According to the statement of the Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces of the East Kazakhstan region, Major General Kirill Makarov, "MiG-31 fighters will cover our ports, transport arteries and ships in the entire Arctic zone from the air."

Today, a modernization program is being implemented in Russia, which will cover approximately 20% of the 500 of the MiG-31. Modernization of the programs MiG-31BM / BCM significantly increases the ability of fighters to destroy modern means of air attack.

At the same time, as Ilya Tarasenko, general director of RSK MiG, stated, “the life cycle of the MiG-31 is coming to an end in the next 10 years. We are now actively developing the concept of a long-range interception aircraft. Accordingly, we will come out with the proposal already to our main customer, and I hope that in the near future we will already come to work on the Red Sea level. ” However, in any case, creating a promising interceptor of a new generation will take time and resources.

Multifunctional fighters. The workhorses of the modern war in the air are multifunctional fighters. The naval aviation of the Navy has relied on Su-30CM, which are capable of solving a wide range of tasks, including intercepting air targets, winning air supremacy and attacking ground and surface targets. In addition, due to the rhythmic large-scale production, the Su-30CM has a good ratio of efficiency and cost.

The Northern Fleet was the second alliance of the Russian Navy, which received such vehicles. Most likely the northerners would be the first, but after the well-known events, the Su-30CM were first delivered to the Black Sea Fleet.

According to the message of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation distributed in 2015, up to 2020, Maritime aviation will receive over 50 Su-30CM fighters. The commander of the Russian Navy aviation, Hero of Russia, Major-General Igor Kozhin, said: “The arrival of Su-30CM fighter jets can significantly expand the capabilities of the naval air forces. Long range, the ability to refuel in the air, the ability to fight high-precision weapons with air, surface and ground targets - these qualities are Su-30SM demanded by naval aviation of the Russian Navy. "

Note that Naval Aviation, and not only in Russia, has specific requirements for fighters. No wonder the US Navy continues to purchase new versions of F / A-18, although they have the opportunity to fully switch to fifth-generation fighter jets.

Marine pilots are more interested in double planes, facilitating long missions over non-oriented terrain and allowing them to fully realize the capabilities of multifunctional aircraft.

It is also understandable that in the first place among naval aviators there is reliability - in the ocean or in the Arctic, the pilot who left the plane has a small chance of escape. Su-30M in this regard looks preferable.

It was created on the basis of the most massive export family of Russian Su-30МКИ / МКА / МКМ fighters (a total of about 400 vehicles of the family were built). During the production of such a large batch of aircraft, it was possible to cure all the “childhood diseases” of the equipment and to debug the after-sales service system.

Thanks to the open architecture of the avionics Su-30CM has unlimited modernization potential, which, as reported by the media, has already begun to be realized. There are all the necessary groundwork for such modernization in Russia, which makes it possible to improve the aircraft without significant investments in R & D.

Of interest to Maritime aviation may be the prospect of adaptation to a fighter of heavy long-range supersonic anti-ship missiles. Such a program in India is conducted by the BraMos joint venture, the Russian participant of which is the NPO Mechanical Engineering. Transferring this experience to “native land” will create a complex capable of fighting any targets at sea, including carrier groups.

Multifunctional fighters will significantly increase the impact potential of Russian aviation in the Arctic region. The re-equipment of the Su-30CM will allow you to create compact groups to solve various problems facing combat aircraft. This is extremely important for small Arctic airfields, where the deployment of a significant number of specialized aircraft is difficult.


Russia is financing the development of defense infrastructure programs on a priority basis. According to RBC news agency, 34 billion rubles is allocated for this purpose, as provided for by the region’s development strategy up to 2020. This decision was taken during the June series of meetings with the participation of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin - curator of the Arctic theme in the government.

On the eve of the future buildup of the aviation force in the Arctic, the restoration of Russia's northern airfields is underway. Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Aerospace Force of the Russian Federation, said: “The development of Rogachevo’s airfield on Novaya Zemlya and other northern airfields is underway. These are Vorkuta, Tiksi, Anadyr and Cape Schmidt, as well as others. These airfields will be restored, and our aircraft will be based on them. ”

According to the representative of Spetsstroy of Russia, up to 2018, nine airfields will be equipped in the Arctic.

Thus, it can be stated that Russia has the determination and opportunities to strengthen its position in the Arctic in the interests of ensuring the security and economic development of the state.

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  1. Mar.Tirah
    Mar.Tirah 20 August 2017 06: 33
    In Soviet times, the MIG-31 was at the very final stage of our state’s existence. The SU-15TM was the main workhorse at the most tense moments, and a number of MIG-23s were modernized to intercept. After the MIG-25 was hijacked, our command was afraid to set up modern air defense aircraft , close to the border. While the United States already had F-15s there. The first MIG-31s ​​appeared in Chukotka only a few years ago. And even then, they will not be there on a permanent basis, since there will be no basing regiments as before. The scale is not the same. But thank you for our government’s assessment of the degree of threat, and began to allocate scarce reserves for the defense of the north. As they say: - DAMNED TROUBLE, START!
  2. silberwolf88
    silberwolf88 20 August 2017 10: 45
    For the development of the BTA (and transport aviation as a whole), it would be good to make a purely Russian analogue of the AN-70 ... we have complete project documentation ... with its line of engines have advanced quite far ... production capacities (not loaded aircraft factories a lot) is enough ...
    This type of equipment also has a good niche in the civilian sector ... it will be replaced at a higher level (carrying capacity and thrust-weight ratio) of the AN-12 ... let's not forget that during the Soviet era all transport supplies in the north were organized for them .. North Pole stations were planted, etc.
  3. Settlement Oparyshev
    Settlement Oparyshev 20 August 2017 11: 12
    In the North, the “Pioneers” will take root well. A couple of regiments will close the entire direction to them, only come on intelligence, the rest is a matter of technology. Modify for missile defense and Pioneers drive enemy BG
  4. Boa kaa
    Boa kaa 20 August 2017 14: 28
    A comprehensive article. I like it. But the author clearly underestimated the fact that the 36 F-22 is based in Alaska. These are precisely those aircraft that will clear the airspace from our fighters and suppress air defense systems. But they will do this after an avalanche of Newspore type LCASM. It is clear that many data are closed, but English-language directories are available. Therefore, one could compare by the quantitative composition of the groupings of forces of the parties. Well, and of course, in terms of building up forces (efforts) in the main direction of their application ... And here we have ... a lot of work ... One hope for Voronezh in the microwave mode ... Yeah, here.
    And you can serve in the North only by youth. Then you want warmth, a sea of ​​tender, blue, and not lead with ice sludge ... BRRR !!!
    So, for young people everywhere we have a road! They will have to warm up the North. I think so.
  5. Old26
    Old26 20 August 2017 14: 30
    Quote: pp to Oparyshev
    In the North, the “Pioneers” will take root well. A couple of regiments will close the entire direction to them, only come on intelligence, the rest is a matter of technology. Modify for missile defense and Pioneers drive enemy BG

    Of course driven. Only who will place them in the north? And they didn’t ask themselves the question, why did the Americans, having initially started making their GBI interceptors based on the Menitmen, suddenly took and replaced them with completely different engines?
  6. Monarchist
    Monarchist 20 August 2017 14: 50
    [quote = п-к Oparyshev] In the North, "Pioneers" will take root well A couple of regiments will close the whole direction to them, only come on intelligence, the rest is a matter of technology. Modify for missile defense and Pioneers drive and enemy BG [
    If the General Staff does not guess, you tell them. Joke. But seriously, the government and the Moscow Region have come to their senses and are beginning to take action.
  7. Old26
    Old26 20 August 2017 14: 58
    Quote: Monarchist
    If the General Staff does not guess, you tell them. Joke. But seriously, the government and the Moscow Region have come to their senses and are beginning to take action.

    To enter into the same thing twice .... no one will. At one time in the USSR, the Politburo wanted to have "Pioneers" in Chukotka. So what. The commission, led by the head of the PGRK division at the main headquarters of the Strategic Missile Forces, made an unambiguous conclusion. Chukotka is not a metro for PGRK. And the Politburo was forced to agree with this.
    And now, someone really wants to repeat this? In addition, we do not have a PGRK with BRDS.
    The second message - to modify the "Pioneers" to the needs of the missile defense system does not stand up to criticism at all. The ballistic missile and missile defense missions are too different to do on the same base
  8. VIT101
    VIT101 20 August 2017 16: 19
    To use the Mig-31 at the moment to intercept cruise missiles is like shooting a sparrow from a cannon. In Soviet times, this was possible when there were more Migov in the north, and fewer cruise missiles. If hundreds of sea-based and air-based missile launchers will now go to our borders from the north, then Su-30SM and medium-range and short-range air defense systems will shoot them down. And Mig-31 should work on carriers of the Kyrgyz Republic.
  9. RoTTor
    RoTTor 20 August 2017 20: 57
    The network has information about abandoned airfields.
    Many of them are in the North, most of them are abandoned airfields and destroyed by foreign thieves and idiots without the participation of foreign enemies, military camps with all the infrastructure.
    What heroic efforts all this created in the 50-69th years, how offensive it is to see all this in ruins. But then the country was richer ...
    Not one of the winemakers of this miraculous wrecking has been punished, imprisoned with complete confiscation.
    Let all this be restored for their money, and to the culprits - a quarter of forced labor at these facilities, which will have to be revived almost from scratch
  10. irazum
    irazum 21 August 2017 10: 31
    Polar Pilots. Elite!
  11. Tolik_74
    Tolik_74 22 August 2017 17: 12
    Our neighbors do not agree with the current regime of the Northern Sea Route and strive to turn it into an international commercial transit route.
    It is time for Russia to have already voiced the rates for the transportation of goods via the NSR by the vessels of enemy states.
  12. storm
    storm 23 August 2017 22: 27
    Until 2020, naval aviation will receive over 50 Su-30SM fighters.

    this is only a third of the minimum requirement for the Su-30SM for naval aviation.
  13. storm
    storm 23 August 2017 22: 53
    Quote: assault
    Until 2020, naval aviation will receive over 50 Su-30SM fighters.

    50 Su-30 SM fighters is only one third of the minimum requirements of naval aviation.

    MiG-31 used for air defense bases of the SF and Pacific Fleet after modernization receive long-range missiles with which they must serve as "hunters" for:
    - AWACS from which reconnaissance and control of naval and air groups;
    - strategic bombers from B-2 to B-52 destroying them even before the launch zone of the Kyrgyz Republic;
    - air tankers fueling enemy aircraft:
    - low-orbit satellites and hypersonic aircraft
    1. Rushnairfors
      Rushnairfors 26 August 2017 22: 36
      The assault, I would even say a quarter of what is needed. About 200 Su30cm aircraft, plus 2 ship ones. One problem is nowhere to put. You can land a regiment in Vorkuta, in Severomorsk there are PLAShniks and shipbuilders, you can’t just put 20-30 su30 there, and the point is, the aviation thrilled there. In Monchegorsk it is possible, instead of the old su24, Olenegorsk is already far away, in Tiksi there have never been “little ones” as far as I know, but perhaps the mixed part can be placed there as it was before Serdyukov (an12 + mi8), on Novaya Zemlya an airdrome, there were rumors they will stand there for a moment, but so far it’s dull, well, in the East, in Chukotka, apart from Anadyr, there’s nothing like a regiment; Well, it would be nice to restore a couple of airdromes and there it would be mat.
  14. Looking for
    Looking for 18 January 2018 22: 32
    Since the only way to supply the Arctic to date is only aviation, until a NEW one is created !!!! military transport aircraft for the north the idea of ​​military use of the Arctic is UTOPIC.