On October 16th, the Norwegian government presented a new Long-Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces. A continued increase in defence spending will strengthen the readiness and endurance of the Norwegian Armed Forces.
“A challenging strategic environment constantly reminds us that cannot take our freedom and security for granted. The Government will continue to invest substantially in defence and security, to ensure that Norway remains a reliable, responsible and capable partner on the Northern flank of the Alliance,” says Norwegian Minister of Defence, Mr Frank Bakke-Jensen.
The Government presented a new Long-Term Plan for Defence to Parliament in April 2020. The deliberations were concluded and debated in early summer in Parliament and the majority in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence asked the Government to come back to Parliament with a revised plan.
The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence asked for elaboration and detailing on eight specific topics. The revised plan will respond to the requests of the committee, and is based on the ambition of the plan that was presented in April 2020.
The plan details a budget increase in the coming eight years. In 2024 the defence-expenditure will increase to a level of 8,3 billion NOK above the 2020 budget. In the2021 defence-budget, the Government proposed a spending increase of more than 3 billion NOK.
“We will also continue the work of identifying cost-effective solutions wherever possible, both when conducting daily operations and when acquiring new equipment,” says Mr Bakke-Jensen.
Personnel and new technology
“The highly skilled and dedicated military and civilian personnel of the defence-sector are the backbone of the Norwegian Armed forces. The number of personnel will gradually increase in order to strengthen the readiness and availability of the Armed Forces, and gradually generate enhanced combat power,” says the Minister of Defence.
The current focus of personnel reforms is on diversifying the personnel structure in order to strengthen the capability and the readiness of the Norwegian Armed Forces, and on the further restructuring of the training and educational system.
Norway will also strengthen the system for innovation in the defence-sector and adapt a comprehensive approach to technology exploitation.
“The development of the Armed Forces is an ongoing and long-term undertaking. In 2016, the Government set out the course towards a more capable and sustainable defence-force, better able to face the changing security environment. This new Long-Term Plan further builds on that foundation. The Norwegian government continues to strengthen the capability and readiness of the defence of Norway,” says Mr Frank Bakke-Jensen, Norwegian Minister of Defence.
Strengthened allied dimension
The defence of Norway starts outside territorial borders and Norwegian participation in NATO operations and readiness forces is an integral part of the overall defence-effort.
Norway plays an important role in NATO by operating in and monitoring the Arctic region, by providing situational awareness to the transatlantic security community. The strengthening of NATO’s maritime posture is an integral element of the ongoing adaptation of the Alliance and crucial to Norwegian and allied security.
Allied presence, training and exercise in and close to Norway are of fundamental importance. The Norwegian Armed Forces will continue to train and operate with key allies such as the USA, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, and other units. The government will also continue the development of Norwegian host nation facilities.
Norway will continue to develop the army. Brigade North will be developed with four manoeuvre battalions and with tactical and logistical support. The manoeuvre battalions will be equipped with new main battle tanks, mobile air defence systems and long-range precision fire. Increased firepower, higher readiness and increased sustainability will ensure that the Norwegian Armed Forces remain relevant in the new security environment.
In addition, the modernisation of the Home Guard will continue, including an increased capacity to forward stage weapons, ammunition and other supplies.
Norway will strengthen the Navy with increased personnel volume. The frigates and submarines will undergo necessary upgrades. In addition, three new Coast Guard vessels will be introduced. In order to preserve the maritime operational capability after 2030 the government has started the planning to replace surface vessels. The Government will inform Parliament about the recommended future development of the surface structure in 2022.
“It is our ambition to acquire and implement future Navy capabilities in collaboration with close allies,” says the Norwegian Minister of Defence.
The introduction of new aircraft systems will have priority for the Air Force in the years leading up to 2025. The implementation of the F-35 Lightning II continues. P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will replace the fleet of P-3 Orion.
To improve air defence capability, the NASAMS II air defence system will be upgraded with modern sensors, as well as the introduction of a complementary capacity with shorter range.
“This will contribute to countering threats against bases, and protect allied reception areas,” says Mr Bakke-Jensen.
In the long term, it will be assessed how long-range air defence systems can be introduced.
The modernisation of the Home Guard will continue, including an increased capacity to forward stage weapons, ammunition and other supplies.
The ability of the Special Forces to contribute to both national and international operations will improve with increased personnel volume and one additional maritime special operations task group. The Bell 412 transport helicopters will be replaced by a new capacity that is better suited for the Special Forces.
Air Force will continue to introduce new capabilities and strengthen air defense
The introduction of new aircraft systems will be the main priority of the Air Force in the years up to 2025. In addition, the government will replace the old Bell-412 helicopters with new helicopters that are better adapted to the special forces, and further develop the air defense that protects important infrastructure.
In the coming four-year period, the phasing in of the new F-35 fighter jets will continue. And today's fleet of P-3 Orion will be replaced by P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
The government will strengthen the Armed Forces' helicopter capabilities, and plans to start work on replacing the Bell-412 helicopters with a new capability that is better adapted to the special forces from 2024.
“Large parts of the Armed Forces' Special Forces continuously contribute to international operations and maintain standing preparedness in Norway. The government will strengthen the Special Forces with more personnel and establish a new maritime task squad so that they are better equipped to carry out their tasks,” says Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen.
The government will also strengthen the Air Force's ability to protect. Cruise missiles today constitute the most demanding air threat to Norway. In the short term, the government will therefore upgrade the air defense system NASAMS.
In the longer term, the government plans to introduce long-range air defense systems to meet this threat.
Planning upgrades and new surface structure
Several of today's surface combat vessels will reach the end of their service life towards 2030. The government will upgrade today's vessels so that the service life is extended. At the same time, the planning of a new surface structure has begun.
“Our northernmost sea areas have gained greater strategic importance. This places increased demands on the Navy's ability to understand the situation and exercise authority. The government will therefore strengthen the Navy with increased manning and upgrading of vessels,” says Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen.
Norway will have new submarines towards the end of the 2020s and at the beginning of the 2030s. The government will extend the life of the existing submarines until new submarines are in place.
The Norwegian Navy's four frigates will be upgraded so that they remain operationally relevant. The minehunters will also continue in service until new unmanned and autonomous systems are operational. And the Coast Guard will continue with 15 vessels.
“Changes in the security policy situation, combined with rapid development of new technology, can provide new solutions to maintain operational capabilities. We must look at this in the future. We must also look at whether we can carry out new acquisitions in collaboration with allies. The government will return to the Storting on the future structure of the surface structure in 2022,” says Minister of Defense Bakke-Jensen.
The government will strengthen the Army with more soldiers and increased firepower
“The army must be able to carry out its missions in an increasingly sharp and confusing security policy situation. The strengthening of Northern Brigade increases the Armed Forces' ability to prevent or slow down an opponent in taking control of Norwegian territory until allied forces are in place. It will also enable us to increase Norway's efforts in NATO's contingency initiative,” says Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen.
The Government will also procure new tanks from 2025, and plans to present the project to the Storting in 2021. At the same time, the Government will accelerate the acquisition of long-range precision weapons for the Army from 2028 to 2026. Together with the introduction of new artillery, this will significantly increase the Army firepower.
“We will also continue to build up the Finnmark land defense so that we contribute to strengthening the military presence, combat power and endurance in Finnmark,” says the Minister of Defense.
The government also proposes to establish a company as a joint resource under the Army that will provide greater capacity for protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.