HELSINKI — Norway's armed forces is set to gain a 9.8 percent real term increase in its budget for 2016. The rise, contained in the government's newly released budget proposal, will result in defense spending climbing by US $526 million to $6 billion in 2016.
The defense budget proposal for 2016 includes a twofold increase in funding for the F-35 Lightning 11 program, the strengthening of Norway's Intelligence Service, as well as expansion in both the High North and the forward deployment of submarine patrols.
"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," said Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The budget proposal allocates $1.05 billion to the F-35 acquisition and associated infrastructure programs. Related capital investment projects include additional funds covering the construction of the new F-35-base at Ørland Main Air Station. The first F-35 aircraft are scheduled to arrive at Ørland in 2017.
The Intelligence Service, which includes an air-surveillance unit and P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, will receive $45.3 million in 2016. The Navy's vessel maintenance budget will increase by $39.2 million, in a move directed at bolstering the readiness and operational availability of vessels.
Bruun-Hanssen said the NAF needs to "strengthen its ability to conduct surveillance and intelligence; to improve force response times; and to strengthen the manning of key structural elements while also improving the ability to protect key infrastructure,".
In an efficiency boosting position welcomed by the MoD, Bruun-Hanssen advocates the further streamlining of staff and support functions together with reducing the number of military bases and so-called non-essential infrastructure.
The potential range of cutbacks outlined in the SDR, including plans to sharply scale back manpower and funding in the Norwegian Home Guard, has caused the Norwegian Military Officers Association (NMOA) to question the need for enhanced cost-base savings projects.
"The long-term effects of more cutbacks will not improve force development. We could also see a weakening in defense spending in real terms falling away more from the level required by NATO. We do not believe that the defense chief wants more cuts, but feels under pressure to take this course for economic reasons," said Torbjørn Bongo, NMOA's deputy leader.