HELSINKI – Nammo A/S has reached a landmark agreement with the Finnish Defense Forces (FDF) to supply the Norwegian company’s newly developed artillery shells.

The deal with Finland is a significant development for Nammo, with the FDF becoming the first international customer for the company’s 155 mm insensitive munitions, high explosive, extended range ammo, or IM-HE-ER.

The precision-strike ammunition has been under development since 2012. Nammo is now looking to the Nordic and export markets to drive global sales and revenues for the newly launched IM-HE-ER ammunition.

Artillery-fired IM-HE-ER shells have a capacity to reach a height of 10 miles (50,000 feet) when fired at its maximum range of over 25 miles. This range is almost twice the distance of Nammo’s previous precision-strike artillery ammunition offerings.

On the domestic front, Nammo is expected to negotiate a supply deal to the Norwegian Defense Forces (NDF). The IM-HE-ER ammunition was developed under a program part funded by the state-owned Norwegian Defense Material Agency (NDMA).

The Nammo-NDMA program focused on the development of a new type of extended range precision-strike ammunition. Factors driving the NDMA’s funding included the potential to achieve a commercial-scale and find international customers for IM-HE-ER ammunition.

The NDMA is also expected to part-finance a planned Nammo project to develop so-called extreme-range ammunition using amjet-assisted shells. The aim is to develop ER shells that would enable a standard 155 mm artillery gun to fire at ranges up to 56.3 miles (90 km).

The FDF’s purchase of the IM-HE-ER ammunition forms part of a long-term program by Finland to reinforce the Army’s artillery capability and fire-power.

As part of this capability-building project, the FDF plans to commence initial training on the Samsung Techwin K9 Thunder 155 mm/52 caliber self-propelled artillery systems in 2019.

In February, Finland placed an order for 48 former Republic of Korea Army K9 systems. The value of the deal amounted to US$155 million.

The full cost of the K9 acquisition will be higher, as the FDF plans to upgrade the self-propelled howitzers with Finnish sub-systems that include battle management, global positioning, communications and camouflage bolt-ons.

The deal with South Korea was a joint acquisition between Finland and Estonia. Under the procurement contract, the Estonian Armed Forces (EAF) will acquire 12 K9 systems and enter in to an a training and information sharing cooperation with the FDF. .

Currently, the FDF’s arsenal includes the French supplied Nexter Systems 155 mm LU 111 high-explosive projectile and the ageing Russian-made Bonus Mk II 155 mm artillery system.

Nammo’s IM-HE-ER deal with Finland coincides with the company’s expansion within the manufacture of missile, artillery shell and rocket propulsion systems.

In June, Nammo acquired Moog Inc.’s European In-Space Propulsion businesses with production located in Ireland and Britain. The acquisition is expected to strengthen Nammo’s revenues earned from export related sales in 2017-2018.

Nammo’s export operations, at present, are mainly concentrated on the manufacture of rocket motors for anti-air missiles, including the AMRAAM, the AIM-9X Sidewinder, and the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).

Gerard O'Dwyer reports on Scandinavian affairs for Defense News.

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