Scott Ritter penned a nice piece on the tensions in Arctic and noted:
The US is in the process of developing advanced SM-3 Block IIA surface-to-air missiles which can be launched from the Mark 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) employed on Aegis-capable ships. These new interceptors are capable of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and will be tested in this configuration in the third quarter of 2020. Given the fact that the vast majority of Russia’s strategic nuclear force—especially those elements of which are stationed in Siberia—are configured to fly over the Arctic Sea region before reaching their targets in the United States, any US naval deployment in the Arctic Sea armed with these weapons could not be seen as innocent.
Here is where Russia's integrated air defense and strike capabilities come in play along all the Northern Sea Route. Geopolitics is really easy when viewed in statics, so is tactics and operations (well, not really, but for the sake of argument). I stated not for once, that all this apparatus consists primarily of few simplest geometric figures such as straight lines, angles, circles and sectors. Seems simple enough. It is when those figures begin to move and interact (relate) to each-other, this is where it all becomes extremely complex and cannot be described in motion to a layman. Yet, statics will do for a moment--once the circles with the radii of modern Russian anti-ship missiles, ranging from P-800 Onyx and 3M22 Zircon, begin to be "moved" around, one can easily see that no matter where the US Navy positions its ships with SM-3 (granted they did not develop a capability to plow through thick arctic ice, which is still there), up to the even projected retreat of arctic ice edge in the nearest 10+ years, there is simply nowhere to hide for US Navy's surface force, no matter its composition.
SM-3 might be (declared) a "good" missile, allegedly, for the intercept of classic ballistic missiles--it is absolutely useless against modern anti-shipping weapons. Especially carried by MiG-31Ks or TU-22M3M. Ritter is correct:
If the US decides to beef up its naval presence in the Arctic region, expanding the current Barents Sea Patrol to incorporate more aggressive FONOPs along Russia’s Northern Sea Route, one can anticipate that Russia will respond in kind, creating the potential for a repeat of the Yorktown/Caron incident in the frigid waters of the Arctic north. In this day and age of renewed Cold War-like tensions between the US/NATO and Russia, the last thing either side needs is a new point of potential force-on-force friction.
Force friction is a euphemism for two opposing forces getting in direct contact with each-other. The only difference here is that unlike famous incident in the Black Sea in 1980s, any force entering the area will be tracked even before they think about anything and will have firing solution ready through a variety strike means from which it has no defense. This is not to mention that the launch sites of Avangards, as one example, not to mention mobile Yars complexes are entirely out of the range of even new SLCM-N. But here is this trick, unless the United States wants to play in nuclear exchange (and there are a number of lunatics who want that), one fact remains unchanged--Russia already has a whole set of conventional (non-nuclear) instruments to counter US nuclear threat by simply sinking any US (NATO) asset in the Arctic region. And here is the main point: the game is not about nuclear exchange, long ago it became a game of conventional weapons and when it comes down to conventional stand-off, high supersonic or hypersonic strike weapons and reconnaissance and tracking systems, the United States long ago lost this arms race and the gap continues to grow. In this case, moving expensive and allegedly effective assets under the sights of Russia's forces in Arctic is nothing more than a traditional chest thumping. There is a reason, the United States wants Kinzhal to be included into START negotiations. Maybe because those weapons are merely CGI, right?
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