Snowmobiles to aid Royal Marines operations behind enemy lines in Arctic

New snowmobiles
159 new vehicles will replace and expand the current fleet of snowmobiles - Daniel Smither/RAF

The Royal Marines are being equipped with a new £10 million fleet of snowmobiles to aid its operations behind enemy lines in the Arctic Circle.

The 159 new vehicles will replace and expand the special forces’ current fleet of snowmobiles, which are used in reconnaissance and raiding missions in the extreme cold.

The Arctic has become an increasingly contested geopolitical area as tensions between Russia and the West have escalated in recent years.

Britain’s Armed Forces conduct regular cold weather training in the below-freezing climes of northern Norway and the Royal Navy is often deployed in the Arctic Sea.

The Royal Marines have historically operated in the Arctic using skis, snowshoes or skijoring, where they are towed by armoured vehicles.

The new snowmobiles will allow them to move more quickly and operate over longer distances and have already been trialled by the Royal Marines on an experimental basis.

Snowmobile
The snowmobiles have been trialled by the Royal Marines - James Clarke/40 Commando RM

The Lynx Brutal Over Snow Reconnaissance vehicles will be produced by a Finnish subsidiary of Canadian firm Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) and enter service from March next year.

The snowmobiles will be used to perform reconnaissance missions that enable F-35 stealth jets to operate with freedom from a Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier.

The Lynx Brutal comes with a 37-litre fuel tank, a turbo-charged 180 horsepower engine and weighs just 250kg.

BRP, the manufacturer, says its “raw engine performance” and “unfailing traction” gives the snowmobile “unswerving capability to go in deep snow”.

Capt Nick Unwin, the director of the tri-service Commando Force modernisation programme, said the snowmobiles would contribute to “transformational change” in the Armed Forces.

He said: “The Lynx Brutal is a well-proven vehicle operated by many partners and allies, and will play a key part in the Commando’s ability to operate in areas and in ways that are beyond the capabilities of conventional forces in the High North.”

The snowmobiles will be deployed as part of the Royal Navy’s Littoral Response Group (North) task force, which operates in the Arctic Circle.

The snowmobiles will contribute to 'change' in the Armed Forces
The snowmobiles will contribute to 'transformational change' in the Armed Forces - James Clarke/Royal Navy

The Royal Marines took part last month in Exercise Nordic Response, a training exercise in the Arctic that formed part of Nato’s broader Steadfast Defender 24 drills.

Britain sent a total of 20,000 troops to take part in the whole exercise.

Exercise Nordic Response centred on an amphibious landing on Norway’s northern coastline and was designed to prepare the alliance for a war with Russia.

The role of the Marines was to destroy enemy technology and conduct covert reconnaissance to enable conventional forces to land.

In mid-February, HMS Prince of Wales set sail to join the operation – Nato’s biggest since the Cold War – throughout the transatlantic region after being delayed at the last minute.

All of Scandinavia is now part of Nato after Finland and Sweden became members for the first time in April 2023 and March this year respectively.

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