Russia re-opens Arctic cold war era air base

Northern Fleet personnel participated in reestablishing the military base on the island of Kotelny in the North Siberian Islands. (Photo:

The Russian Air Force has re-opened the Temp airfield on the Kotelny Island in the High North. The airfield has not been used in 27 years, but will now be used for safeguarding shipping in the Arctic.


The base on Kotelny is planned to be the first in a chain of similar bases all along the northern coast of Russia. Work to reestablish meteorological stations and air bases on Franz Josef Land and Wrangel Island will soon start, according to TV Zvezda.

President Vladimir Putin in September signed a decree that instructed the Ministry of Defense to reestablish the base on Kotelny along with the abandoned airbase of Tiksi on the mainland. The two air bases will protect offshore oil and gas resources in the area and keep an eye on the growing number of ships sailing along the Northern Sea Route.

Shortly after Putin had signed the decree, a large vessel-group from the Northern Fleet sailed to the area to start establishment of a base on Kotelny. Some 150 troops and 40 vehicles as well as module housings where then brought to the island.

Kotelny Island is part of the New Siberian Islands in the eastern part of the Arctic Ocean and is situated on 75 degrees north.

Headquarters are now established on the island and the first aircraft – an An-72 cargo plane, landed at the airport on Tuesday, First Deputy Defense Minister Arkady Bakhtin said during a video conversation from the island with Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, the ministry’s web site reads. 

Bakhtin said that work to extend the runway were under way so that the airport could receive larger planes and be used permanently. Two Il-76 aircraft have dropped 40 tons of different cargo near the base, he said.

50 people are now working on the base on Kotelny. They have until now been living in tents, but will shortly move in to newly built quarters, according this informative video from the operations on Kotelny on TV Zvezda.