US to Pump in $4 Billion Over 12 Years to Overhaul Cold War-Era Thule Air Base in Greenland

The United States will spend billions in a new maintenance contract of its strategic Thule Air Base in Greenland. According to a Defense Department a statement, a 12-year contract has been awarded to Greenlandic firm Inuksuk, which will bring about massive maintenance and upgrade of the airbase's facilities and infrastructure through to 2034.

The deal includes civil engineering, fuels management, airfield operations, transportation and non-secure communications, as well as services for base personnel.

Thule Air Base
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The contract is also expected to reverse the damage from rising temperatures and melting permafrost, which is destroying airstrips and causing houses to crack.

Strategically Situated Above the Arctic Circle

The Thule Air Base is the United States' northernmost military base in the world. It's located just 1,210 km above the Arctic Circle on Greenland's west coast. The air base was initially operated by the US Air Force and now the US Space Force (USSF) under and an agreement with Denmark.

The air base was set up in 1951 to provide early warning and attack assessment of ballistic missile launches, provide space surveillance data and to provide tracking, telemetry and commanding of earth orbiting satellite vehicles.

It was built during the Cold War era, in the early 1950s, shortly after Denmark entered NATO in 1949. Numerous aircraft operated from Thule, during the Cold War, including the Northrop F-89 Scorpion jet interceptor and the Convair B-36, Boeing B-47 and Boeing B-52 strategic bombers.

Air Base Map
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Thule Air Base is now home to the 21st Space Wing's network of sensors that provides early missile warning, space surveillance and control. It utilizes a global network of US and foreign radars that provide information on various space defense activities, such as detecting enemy ballistic missiles or the launching of new space-based systems.

Maintenance to Boost Greenland's Economy

The new contract for maintenance is expected to boost the economy of Greenland, bringing a stream of tax receipts and employment opportunities for the local workforce. Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Denmark's Foreign Minister, described the deal as maximum benefit from US military presence.

This article was first published on December 20, 2022
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