Oct 9, 2015 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: Norway Ministry of Defence; issued Oct 8, 2015)
The Norwegian Government proposes a 9.8% real terms defence budget increase for 2016, including a near doubling of funding for the F-35, a significant strengthening of the Intelligence Service and increased High North patrols.
The Norwegian Intelligence Service, the P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft and forward deployed submarine patrols all receive additional funding in the Norwegian Government’s 2016 budget proposal that was presented on the 7th of October.
The majority of the increase comes from a near doubling of the funding related to the Norwegian acquisition of the F-35, which ensures that the Norwegian procurement of the F-35 will proceed as planned.
The overall priorities in the Government’s budget proposal are in line with the recommendations presented by the Chief of Defence on the 1st of October 2015 in his Strategic Military Review, and helps increase the defence budget’s share of Norway’s GNP to a projected 1.54 %.
“The Norwegian Government takes the new security situation very seriously, and in 2016 we intend to follow up on our stated intention of strengthening the Norwegian Armed Forces in areas which allow its operational capabilities to grow in both the short and the long term. A considerable strengthening of the Norwegian Armed Forces is required in order to ensure that we develop capabilities for the future that are both relevant and modern, and which improve our ability to deter the use of force against both Norway and the wider NATO-alliance.
“Both our F-35-procurement and the new base at Ørland are key components to this effort, and of great importance to this Government, and therefore constitute a significant portion of the proposed increases,” says Norwegian Minister of Defence, Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide.
Increased Funding for the Procurement of New Combat Aircraft with Associated Infrastructure
To support Norway’s continued acquisition of the F-35 along with its associated infrastructure the Government proposes a 2016 budget allocation of NOK 8.6 billion. While this proposal includes NOK 1.1 billion re-allocated from the 2015 budget due to planned payments that have been postponed, this nevertheless constitutes a near doubling of the 2015-level.
Also covered by the funding increase are additional funds for the construction of the new F-35-base at Ørland Main Air Station, where several projects are already underway to prepare for the arrival of the first F-35 in Norway in 2017.
The Norwegian Parliament has already authorized the procurement of 22 of the 52 aircraft Norway plans to procure, which includes deliveries up to and including 2019. In the 2016 budget, the Government requests authorization to begin procurement of an additional six aircraft for delivery in 2020.
On Tuesday the 6th of October the Norwegian acquisition of the F-35 reached another milestone as the second F-35 for Norway, AM-2, completed a successful test flight from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas. This was the first flight for a Norwegian F-35, and comes only two weeks after the formal roll-out ceremony for the first Norwegian F-35.
A Strengthened and Modernized Intelligence Service
The Norwegian Government is proposing a considerable and necessary investment in the Norwegian Intelligence Service, above and beyond the levels indicated in the current Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces. By modernizing both the technologies and capabilities of the Intelligence Service, it will become better prepared to address current and future challenges in line with the rapid technological advancement and developments in both Norway’s immediate region and in other areas around the globe.
In its 2016 budget proposal, the Government consequently proposes a funding increase for the Intelligence Service of NOK 370 million, of which NOK 250 million are fresh funds added to the defence budget.
Improved Navy Maintenance and Increased High North Patrols
The Government proposes several measures intended to strengthen the operational readiness of the Norwegian Navy, and to increase the patrol activity of its submarines and the Air Force’s P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft in the High North.
By adding NOK 320 million to the Navy maintenance budget, the Government aims to reduce the current maintenance backlog on its vessels, thereby improving its ability to maintain the level of activity described by the current Long Term Plan. This additional funding also creates additional opportunities for the maritime industries on the Norwegian West Coast, and is part the Government’s effort to boost Norwegian employment levels.
Beyond maintenance, the budget proposal also includes funding dedicated to strengthening Norwegian High North Patrols, with an additional NOK 62 million to allow an Ula-class submarine to be forward-deployed to Ramsund Naval Station, where two crews will rotate to enable a total of about 250 sailing days annually in the High North.
The proposal also includes NOK 35 million in additional funds for the P-3C Maritime Patrol Aircraft, enabling both longer and more frequent patrols in the High North, strengthening Norway’s ability to ensure adequate surveillance and enforce Norwegian sovereignty in the region.
Funding for Continued International Engagements
The budget proposal includes additional funding to extend Norway’s participation in two important international missions, including NOK 82 million to support the deployment of one C-130J along with staff officers to support the UN-operation MINUSMA in Mali for an additional ten months, and NOK 7 million to support Norway’s participation in operation Triton in the Mediterranean Sea.
Continued Overall Modernization
Even as funding for the F-35 ramps up, Norway continues the overall modernization of its Armed Forces, funding more than 20 projects in various stages of completion through the proposed defence budget for 2016. These include the ongoing modernisation of the Army’s CV90-fleet, and a new logistics vessel for the Navy. The budget proposal also presents a new project for Parliamentary approval which by 2020 will provide 320 light vehicles along with associated support equipment for the Norwegian Home Guard, at an estimated cost of NOK 527 million.
2016 Defence Budget Proposal: NOK 49.066 bn (+ NOK 4.29 bn from 2015 in real terms), of which:
-- Procurement: NOK 12.380 bn
-- Infrastructure: NOK 3.206 bn