Norway boosts defence capabilities with advanced NASAMS procurement

For the past few years, Norway has been steadily modernising its armed forces by acquiring new types of weapons. The most significant arms programme in recent years is the purchase of F-35 multirole aircraft, but besides them, this Scandinavian country has received or will soon receive Leopard 2 main battle tanks, K9 self-propelled howitzers, or Polish Piorun air defence systems. These purchases are not only a result of the desire for technical modernisation but also the necessity of replenishing stocks after transferring certain types of weapons to Ukraine in defence against the Russian assault. This is the case with the most recent order for NASAMS air defence systems.

The desire to transfer NASAMS systems to Ukraine was publicly announced for the first time in March 2023. The matter concerned Norway donating two such systems, complementing two identical ones previously donated by the USA. Later, in July, the transfer of additional system elements, delivered along with the NASAMS system from Lithuania, was announced. Finally, in December, plans to transfer another eight launchers and four fire distribution and control stations were announced. All previous deliveries were made from the Norwegian armed forces’ stocks.

Although each time the Norwegian Ministry of Defence conducted a detailed analysis of the impact of transferring NASAMS on the state of air defence capabilities, it is undeniable that such significant transfers have negatively affected its ability to perform defence tasks. This was not surprising and resulted from the analyses conducted. Therefore, several months ago, along with subsequent batches of equipment transferred to Ukraine, Norway announced replenishing its own stocks by ordering new NASAMS launchers from the domestic industry.

Eventually, the contract for the new launchers was signed on January 31, 2024. The main contractor for the contract will be the Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, which years ago developed NASAMS in cooperation with the American Raytheon (now RTX). The contract value is estimated at £115 million, and deliveries are to be made in 2026–2027.

The details of the order are confidential, so the exact number of systems ordered remains unknown. However, it is known that Norway will acquire the latest version of the launcher with modernised launch containers and improved command posts in place of the launchers transferred to Ukraine. This allows for the firing of AIM-120 AMRAAM, extended-range AMRAAM-ER, and AIM-9X Sidewinder Block 2 short-range missiles from the same launcher, which features a universal launch rail.

Details regarding the Fire Distribution Centre (FDC) have been kept under wraps. It performs command, control, communication, and reconnaissance functions. It also facilitates the transmission of tactical situation data through data links, locates jamming emitters, assesses the threats posed by different types of targets, and assigns targets to missiles. The system is compatible with various tactical data transfer standards: Link 16, JRE, Link 11, Link 11B, LLAPI, and ATDL-1. NASAMS can be integrated with various types of radars, with the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel being the primary one, but other types are also an option.

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