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Gearing up for a very Cold War? Russia reopens Soviet-era lab to develop weapons for icy Arctic conflict

Gearing up for a very Cold War? Russia reopens Soviet-era lab to develop weapons for icy Arctic conflict
A specialist research facility has been reopened in Russia, tasked with testing weapons that can withstand freezing temperatures and harsh weather at the ends of the world.

The Central Scientific Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering, headquartered just outside Moscow, announced on Thursday that the laboratory had received state certification and would begin testing imminently. Founded under the Soviet Union, it had fallen into disrepair and its equipment has since been replaced and restored.

In a press release, the head of the scientific and technical centre at the Institute said that “the certification is the final step towards restoring this unique technological capability that had been lost after the fall of the USSR.”

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He said the test site will begin work on a number of weapons, including rifles, specially-made grenade launchers and small caliber cannons in “extreme temperatures” as low as minus 60 degrees.

The conditions are designed to mimic environments like the Arctic, but the facility will also recreate a number of other potential battlefields. Tests to see whether weapons can withstand tropical climes will be carried out in a combined heat and rain chamber, while a dust chamber mimics the pressures that deserts exert on firing mechanisms.

READ MORE: Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video

The Arctic has been tipped as a potential flashpoint for military tensions, with Russia, the US, UK, Canada and China all conducting exercises in the region and expanding their capabilities for cold-weather conflict. The renewed interest in the frontier is linked to receding ice sheets, which have opened up new channels for shipping. Russia, which spans much of the region, has set a target for at least 80 million tons of goods to flow through its frigid waters by 2024.

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