New technology for a new era

 

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NATO flag on a Norwegian SISU in the village Plementina, Kosova October 1999.



 



 



 



It takes courage, determination and adequate forward thinking for nations to transform their defence forces to fit the needs of today's world. It is generally agreed that harmonization between equipment/system specifications and budgets is necessary for cost-effective modernization. The ongoing global process of military modernization is now being shaped more by the need to respond to the dual challenges of terrorism and the violation of human rights than the needs dictated by major theatre wars. As a result, the entire defence-related industry is undergoing transformation.

 

Norway's participation in the peacekeeping mission in Kosova provided the impetus and direction to the Norwegian defence establishment's process of change. Today, military planners focus on training ethical, technologically capable soldiers, enhancing manoeuvrability and increasing investments in top-of-the-line equipment. They cut operational costs by prioritising investment in central weapons systems, upgrading existing systems, and purchasing COTS (commercial-off-the shelf) products. The Norwegian armed forces are now trimmed-down, capable of rapid long-range deployment, and armed with specialized expertise and advanced weapons.

An Industry in Motion
As national defence establishments are being revamped, so too are national defence industries, which can no longer rely on a steady stream of orders from MILSPEC programmes. National security policies have been increasingly shaped by bilateral and multilateral cooperation, which in turn has led to the emergence of the role of the prime contractor.

 

 

fallskjermer_200x300.jpg (41399 bytes)Parachuters from the Royal Norwegian Navy's Special Command.

 

The majority of Norwegian defence-related companies work assubcontractors, while some have the capability to deliver entire systems. Either way, Norwegian firms are sought-after participants in international development programmes, and have earned a reputation for competitive, high-tech niche products. The country holds an especially high profile in communications, command, control and information systems, and missile technology. In 2002, the Norwegian defence industry had an export turnover of more than NOK 2.35 billion. This represents a sizeable increase from 2001, thanks to a growth in exports to Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the USA.

The Norwegian defence-related industry consists of small and medium-sized businesses and receives the support of organizations such as the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), the long-established Norwegian Defence Industry Group (NFL) and the newly established Norwegian Association of Defence Suppliers (NADS). FFI is an advisory body under the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, conducting its own research projects and providing defence-related companies with key information on the latest technological advances. FFI supports the implementation of national strategies for the defence industry, which are designed to maintain a competitive high-tech industry that serves as a driving force for innovation within military and civilian application areas alike. NFL has promoted the interests of Norway's defence-related suppliers in domestic and foreign defence circles for over 20 years. Among other functions, NFL keeps its members informed about defence procurement plans, initiates contact between Norwegian and foreign defence companies, and participates in a number of pan-European defence groups. NADS was established in January 2003 primarily to represent companies that together offer an entire range of specialized expertise, technology and products for national and international defence applications.


NADS puts together clusters of companies/technologies for specific projects and cooperates with the military establishment during the projects' conceptual phase.

 

As the cost of developing sophisticated military aircraft and defence systems becomes more and more exorbitant and exceeds the limits of many national military budgets, the role of the prime contractor is becoming vital to large-scale development programmes. Newly formed European companies such as BAE Systems and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) are the result of cross-border mergers that enable defence establishments to join forces with industrial specialists to carry out major development projects such as the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft.

 

The majority of Norwegian defence-related companies target niches at various levels of the supply chain. Norwegian heavyweight Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace is a partner in many sizeable development programmes and acts as a magnet, drawing to it Norwegian suppliers of advanced components and technology, and helping to create a fruitful environment for further innovation. In connection with the delivery of the five ultra-modern Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates to the Royal Norwegian Navy between 2005 and 2010, Kongsberg is working as a major subcontractor for the prime shipbuilder Izar and the combat systems prime contractor Lockheed Martin. The company is developing the anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare part of the overall Integrated Weapons System, and will also be supplying operator consoles and a new-generation target illumination system. Its subsidiary Kongsberg Protech is taking part in a programme under the aegis of Eurocopter SAS France for which it is producing rotor head sleeves for 250 NH90 helicopters for use in the Nordic countries.

 

minesveiping250x168.jpg (37576 bytes)Minesweeping with Hydrema near Kabul; Norway sent specialized forces to Afghanistan to clear mines and explosives as well as to operate airports.

 

The Power of Networks

Many nations are choosing to meet the challenges posed by global threats such as terrorism and political instability by developing a new, network-based defence concept. Close cooperation and support between allies are integral to this concept, whether these take the form of a physical presence in combat zones, the contribution of specialized expertise or material support. Norway often sends its troops to take part in international operations, and it gives high priority to maintaining its NATO membership. NATO itself is undergoing a process of modernization, increasing its military capacity, streamlining its command structure, making its forces more mobile and quicker to react, and opening its doors to Eastern European countries. Each member country contributes vital elements to this structure. For example, Norway sent specialized forces to Afghanistan to clear mines and explosives as well as to operate airports. And although the country did not send troops to engage in the conflict in Iraq, it supported UK forces with the loan of high-tech equipment. Meanwhile, the Royal Norwegian Navy is pursuing a closer collaboration with the UK and the Netherlands in the amphibious UK/NL landing force. Norway also contributes by sharing the advantages of its unique geography, offering its allies unparalleled training opportunities in air space with little civilian traffic, rugged terrain, climatic extremes, and along an extended coastline that can support naval, air force and army exercises simultaneously.

 

The implementation of advanced technology - particularly technology for communications, command and control - is also a keystone of a network-based defence concept. National and coalition forces stationed in widespread geographical locations must remain regularly apprised of each other's activities and of the potential for conventional or "asymmetric" attacks such as terrorist acts, the use or threatened use of weapons of mass destruction, and the disruption of communications and command networks, among others. This calls for reliable Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) networks. It has also given rise to programmes to modernize the infantry soldier, such as the UK's Future Infantry System Technology (FIST) project, in which each foot soldier will be equipped with a mobile communications system that transmits voice and data, and which will include a built-in positioning device and a personal role radio. The next-generation soldier systems integrate a wide range of technologies and systems, providing a burgeoning market for defence contractors, subcontractors and speciality manufacturers such as Simrad Optronics which delivers night vision systems and other advanced electro-optic equipment.

 

Eye on ICT
Norway has a particularly high profile when it comes to the design and manufacture of sophisticated C4ISR equipment and systems. On the communications end, THALES Communications and Kongsberg Defence Communications have had great success in exporting equipment originally developed and produced for the Norwegian armed forces. THALES Communications currently delivers its state-of-the art Cryptel®-IP encryption system to NATO. In 2002, the company signed a contract with DCN International to provide a fully integrated communications system for the French Navy's two new projection and command ships. In addition, the French Defence Procurement Agency awarded THALES two studies to define and test future battlespace communications systems.

 

The year 2002 was a watershed for Kongsberg Defence Communications as well. The company won a contract with the Hungarian Ministry of Defence to deliver an army-wide radio system including vehicle-mounted, man-portable and handheld versions of its Multi Role Radio (MRR). In competition with US and French suppliers, the company also won a contract with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defence to supply a mobile communications system encompassing the EriTac tactical trunk multimedia communications system and an integrated MRR system. In addition, it signed an agreement with the Government of Oman for delivery of tactical communications systems.

 

Norwegian command and control solutions include Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace's renowned ground-based HAWK-AMRAAM air defence system, developed in partnership with the Raytheon Company of the USA. Easily tailored to suit specific user requirements, the open-architecture, plug-and-play system features Kongsberg's Fire Distribution Centre (FDC). The FDC was developed for the NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) programme, which was undertaken by the partners at the request of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. NASAMS includes the SL-AMRAMM system, and has been very successful in NATO live flying exercises. NASAMS is currently being upgraded, and has been earmarked by the Norwegian armed forces for deployment in support of international crisis management operations. The Greek and Turkish armed forces have ordered Fire Distribution Centres to modernize their HAWK surface-to-air missile system. The Spanish armed forces have ordered a SL-AMRAAM system similar to NASAMS, while the US Marine Corps has commissioned the development of an HMMWV-based system of the SL-AMRAAM concept. On the reconnaissance and intelligence fronts, SiMiCon specializes in airborne data acquisition using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and is developing a pioneering UAV that combines a helicopter's vertical landing and take-off capability with a fixed-winged aircraft's high-speed capability.

 

Norway is also home to suppliers of high-end software, hardware and services. Teleplan offers training and simulation software that features MARIA, its military mapping application, and Geodata delivers geographic information systems (GIS) for command and intelligence applications such as terrain analysis, integration of battlefield operation systems, and development of contingency plans. High-tech "nuts and bolts" are supplied by Dolphin Interconnect Solutions, which specializes in advanced interconnect technology and products for computer networks, and Data Respons, which delivers real-time and embedded solutions for military applications such as electronic warfare and C2IS sensor technology. On the services side, Kitron offers contract design and manufacturing of electronic components, while Electronicon carries out engineering, assembly, testing, and maintenance for naval applications.

 

simradoptronics250x260.jpg (65398 bytes)The next-generation soldier systems integrate a wide range of technologies and systems, providing a burgeoning market for defence contractors, subcontractors and speciality manufacturers such as Simrad Optronics which delivers night vision systems and other advanced electro-optic equipment.

 

 

From Weapons and Warships to Weather-proof Gear
The Norwegian defence-related industry also has a particular strength in the manufacture of weapons, mechanical structures and naval vessels. Norway is renowned for the Penguin missile programme, and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace is currently developing the NSM, a new-generation, naval strike missile. Originally commissioned by the Royal Norwegian Navy to equip its new fast patrol boats and frigates, the NSM is the prime European missile of its type. MBDA Missile Systems, a joint venture between BAE Systems and EADS, and based in France, is Kongsberg's main industrial partner in the programme, which will be completed on schedule in 2005. On the subsystems level, Natech manufactures components and systems for missile subassemblies, and Nammo produces missile products such as solid propellant rocket motors and subsystems for military missile programmes. In addition, Nammo delivers a wide range of small arms, medium-calibre and large-calibre ammunition for army, navy and air force use.

 

Norway is also home to skilled manufacturers of mechanical parts and military vehicles. Among them, Kværner Eureka is a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, delivering the MLRS mechanical main launcher components. It also produces an innovative flail-based anti-personnel mine-clearing system developed by NDS Nauteknikk. Alvis Moelv manufactures mine-clearing vehicles as well.

 

A maritime nation, Norway has extensive expertise in naval applications, particularly littoral naval operations, which has become the object of growing international interest. Authorities worldwide are turning to Norway to learn from the country's years of experience with designing vessels and onboard systems for use in coastal waters. Norwegian shipbuilder Umoe Mandal is a specialist in fast boat technology and has delivered a number of modern combat vessels to the Royal Norwegian Navy. Working with the Raytheon Company and John McMullen, among other partners, Umoe Mandal recently delivered a focus-mission ship study to the US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command. The team is now vying for one of three contracts for the preliminary design of a new series of littoral combat ships. Kongsberg and Armaris (formerly DCN International) of France have partnered up to develop the Senit 2000 combat management system for surface craft, designed specifically for littoral warfare. Fully NATO-interoperable, the system offers passive detection, tactical data links and quick response to pop-up air threats. The system will be installed on the Royal Norwegian Navy's 14 existing Hauk-class fast patrol boats (FPBs), with an option for installation on six to eight planned Skjold-class surface-effect FPBs. Meanwhile, Kongsberg subsidiary Simrad offers multibeam sonars to produce hydrographic surveys. Applications include the ability to pinpoint hazards to military and commercial shipping.

 

In addition to high-tech equipment, defence and peacekeeping forces need proper clothing and shelter to protect them from weapons, contaminants and the elements. Among them, Karotek Systemer supplies vehicle armour for military vehicles, and K. Stormark and Cato Ringstad deliver a wide range of protective gear to shield military personnel from bullets, NBC contamination, freezing temperatures, and other threats. Oskar Pedersen manufactures uniforms and workwear for direct delivery to the Armed Forces. Uniteam is the leading Scandinavian supplier of containers and shelters, delivering mobile command posts and environmentally-friendly camp infrastructure that includes water, waste and sewage treatment equipment to NATO, the UN, and armed forces worldwide.

 

Norwegian manufacturers supply top-of-the-line components, technology, equipment and systems to fulfil a variety of military - and civilian - demands. By cultivating cooperation, technological expertise and cross-border partnerships, the Norwegian defence-related industry continues to achieve consistent growth in a market characterized by financial restraint.

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