BODØ AIR STATION, Norway – As it prepares to bring new fighter jets, maritime-surveillance aircraft and submarine fleets online, the Norwegian military is making a conscious effort to enhance its stockpile of munitions, fuel and spare parts ahead of any potential conflict in the region.
Speaking on background during a recent visit to Norwegian military installations, a top defense official here said the F-35, P-8 and submarine recapitalization efforts will remain the obvious focal points of the country's military investments over the next five years. But at a lower level, the government is concerned about potential shortages to the support equipment vital to the country's missions both at home and abroad.
Defense News visited Norway this month as part of a group organized by the Atlantic Council and funded by the Norwegian government. All participants accepted travel and accommodations during the tour.
The three major modernization programs will make up the majority of the defense budget increase Norway has agreed to, which will see a 20 percent increase in spending from now to 2020. (For comparison, the MoD claims the F-35 alone represents the single largest non-energy investment in Norwegian history.) However, the official said Norway will be trying to stockpile weapons, ammunition, and fuel at depots throughout the country with other funds.
Based on previously-stated budget requirements and data, Avascent Analytics predicts that Norway will spent $172.8M on weapons in fiscal year 2017, with growth to $236.6M in 2018 and $185.9M in 2019. The average spending over the next five years, Avascent predicts, will be $190.1M. Those costs include both procurement of weapons and development of the Joint Strike Missile, a key capability for Norway going forward.
Building its store of spare parts is another necessity for the Norwegian military. Norway has managed its equipment well, but has faced shortages in the past. As one example, the official noted how a frigate had to be cannibalized for parts to support the rest of the small fleet.
While less tangible, the official said there is human capital being invested in looking at readiness requirements, such as how quickly a group of troops needs to be able to be mobilized and deployed. Some of those plans date back to the end of the Cold War.
Concurrent with the new fleets coming online, Norway is undergoing a reorganization of its basing structure, which is also part of the readiness picture for the military.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.