OSLO --- Norway said Monday it has proposed to increase the defence budget for 2019 by 4 billion kroner (483 million U.S. dollars), or 7.3 percent, to strengthen the Armed Forces.
The Norwegian government's defence budget proposal for 2019 is about 58.95 billion kroner and its priority will be the army, the navy and the home guard, as well as the long-term plans for the air forces, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense.
"With a conscious commitment to the Armed Forces, we will see that the crews get more training and practice with more available materials," Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen was quoted as saying in the statement.
"Reaction skills will be shorter, and the ability to hold on in a conflict situation will increase," Bakke-Jensen said. "This is completely in line with our goals and shows that the government is to be trusted in defence policy."
The Norwegian government also said it takes the obligations towards NATO seriously and has a goal of using two percent of its gross national product for defence purposes.
Norway's defence budget has been increasing continuously since 2013 by about 16.8 billion kroner every year, the government said.
"NATO has a target that nations benefit from 20 percent of the defence budget used for material investments. Norway more than meets this goal, as we utilize 27 percent, and the government continues with a still high investing for many years to come," Bakke-Jensen said.
Norway will invest in F-35 fighter jets, submarines, new coastguard vehicles, maritime patrol aircraft, combat airplanes and combat cars for the Army and NH90 helicopters, according to the budget proposal.
By the end of 2019 there will be 15 operative F-35s in Norway, and there will be an increase in activities for frigates, corvettes and submarines, the statement said.
(1 U.S. dollar = 8.28 Norwegian kroner)