Servicemen of the Russian Airborne Forces successfully accomplished the first-ever landing on drifting ice in direct proximity with the North Pole at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in the course of an evacuation drill, Airborne Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Yevgeny Meshkov told Interfax.
"More than 50 servicemen were airdropped from an Ilyushin Il-76 military transport aircraft not far from Russia's drifting ice base Barneo [at 89 degrees North] with the use of the Arbalet-2 special-purpose parachute system," he said.
Material supplies and cargo mounted on platforms free-fell from the Il-76 jet onto the ice to support the landing operation, the spokesman said.
"Despite the complex weather conditions - unmarked terrain, a high density of ice hummocks and a lack of visible horizon - the landing and the cargo airdrop were normal and there were no accidents or injuries of the personnel," Meshkov said.
After the landing the paratroopers collected the airdropped supplies. They will collaborate with specialists from the Expedition Center of the Russian Geographic Society in building a camp and practicing rescue of a polar expedition in distress under extreme conditions.
"Due to the nature of mission, the Airborne Forces unit is not carrying armaments. The servicemen have been given knives and hunting guns at the polar station to protect themselves from wild animals," Meshkov said.
The paratroopers are holding the operation jointly with the command of the Russian Air Force Military Transport Aviation and the Expedition Center of the Russian Geographic Society.
The Arbalet-2 special purpose parachute system is tailored for jumps with a cargo container of up to 50 kilograms from transport jets moving at a speed of up to 400 kilometers per hour.
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