Norway to buy new spy planes

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The Norwegian government reportedly has signed a letter of intention to buy new surveillance aircraft from US aviation contractor Boeing. The deal carries a pricetag of NOK 11 billion (USD 1.3 billion), reports newspaper Klassekampen.

The Norwegian government has reportedly agreed to buy new Boeing P-8 Poseidon surveillance aicraft in 2020. PHOTO: Wikipedia

The Norwegian government has reportedly agreed to buy new Boeing P-8 Poseidon surveillance aicraft in 2020. PHOTO: Wikipedia

The paper wrote in its latest edition that Norway’s Defense Ministry has entered into a secret agreement to buy new P-8 Poseidon planes, which are best known for surveillance of maritime areas. They are often used to track submarines, specialize in electronic surveillance and can be equipped with weapons including torpedos, deep-water bombs and missiles.

Defense officials refused to confirm the deal but have made no secret of the need to replace Norway’s existing fleet of Orion aircraft. Given Norway’s long coastline, valuable oil installations in the North, Norwegian and Barents seas and the growing importance of its Arctic areas, defense capability needs to be improved, especially at a time of higher tension with Russia.

“Surveillance aircraft will play a critical role in strengthenging our ability to assert sovereignty in our own northern areas and to monitor harbour areas,” Øystein Bø, state secretary and part of the political leadership for the Defense Ministry, wrote to Klassekampen in response to questions about a P-8 Poseidon deal.

Bø would neither confirm nor deny the deal, but added that “we have good dialogue with our allies on the acquisition of replacements for today’s P-3 Orion (aircraft).”

Newspaper VG reported in June that Norway’s six Orion aircraft would be replaced with four new maritime patrol planes. The goal is to acquire advanced surveillance aircraft to monitor and protect Norway’s vast coastal and offshore areas.

The deal comes after months, even years, of increased activity by Russian fighter jets flying close to Norway’s air space and stepping up military presence in the Barents. There also have been several suspected cases of foreign submarines entering Norwegian territory.

News of a new surveillance deal also comes after debate over Norway’s military preparedness, defense capabilities and heavy reliance on NATO allies. Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hanssen has said that Norway’s ambitions of having airborne maritime and underwater surveillance was losing priority because of economic reasons.

Norway’s defense budget has also been a matter of great debate, but the government has declared it will be boosted, not least to meet NATO demands. Klassekampen reported that the new Poseidon aircraft purchases are to be made in 2020.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund