WASHINGTON — As Norway eyes the completion of a four-year defense strategy, a top defense official pledged the country will invest in its maritime capabilities, including spending to replace its aging P-3 and submarine fleets.
Øystein Bø, Norway’s deputy defense minister, said the defense review, which he called in the “final stages” of development, will “continue to maintain and develop armed forces that develop situational awareness, deterrence and defense.”
“We will be looking at replacing the aging P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, we will look to replace our submarine fleet, we will continue to invest in ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], and we will stay on course to acquire the F-35,” Bø pledged.
The deputy did not go into more details about what might replace those aging systems, but the Boeing P-8 would be a logical follow-on for Norway to replace the P-3, especially as the US intends to operate the P-8 out of a base in Iceland in the near future. As to submarines, the Norwegian government is looking to either DCNS of France or ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany to replace its six Ula-class boats.
Speaking at the NADIC Norwegian-American Defense Conference here, Bø also gave a whole-hearted defense of the F-35 program.
“This program has been far more successful than the press would lead you to believe. With the F-35, Norway will receive a crucial cutting-edge capability that will be the backbone of our future defense forces,” he said.
The F-35 also provides a potential road map for how the US can work with allied nations like Norway in order to develop and acquire new capabilities, Bø indicated.
“It has been a true partnership between the participating nations, [with] close allies and partners working together through the joint program office,” he said. “It will develop the capability that strengthens our mutual capability. This is burden-sharing. This is effective cooperation. And this is modern defense. And it is to my mind the future of large-scale development projects.”