Norway to buy K2 Thunder or Leopard 2A7 MBT main battle tanks
Norway plans to present a tank purchase project for new tanks to the Norwegian parliament for approval in 2021. So far, it has already selected two possible contenders, after having evaluated up to nine options, the last of which were to acquire new platforms or upgrade the current fleet of Leopard 2 tanks currently operated by the Norwegian army has. Finally, it has opted for the first (ordering new battle tanks). Two candidates are shortlisted: the South Korean K-2 Black Panther tank and the German Leopard 2A7. The winner should arrive in 2025.
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Leopard 2A7 during testing (Picture source: Rheinmetall)
The Norwegian Defense Minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen, explained that the evaluations already been carried out around this program “have revealed that there are two types of potential tanks that are relevant for Norway”, before citing the aforementioned Leopard 2A7 and K2 Black Panther. The option of upgrading the current tank fleet has been ruled out because “it would not provide enough protection against the new ammunition that potential opponents have, nor would it provide us with enough communication so that the tanks could act as part of a whole in brigade system ”.
The Defense ministry is starting negociations with the authorities of Germany and South Korea with a view, among other things, to evaluating formulas for industrial cooperation and the access of Norwegian products to the defense market of these two countries, within the framework of this tank purchase program. Let us keep in mind that Norway already bought South Korean K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers, which could make the selection of the K2 look coherent at least partly for logistical reasons.
Norway's new Defense plan
On October 16th, the Norwegian government presented a new Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces. A continued increase in defence spending will strengthen the readiness and endurance of the Norwegian Armed Forces. « A challenging strategic environment constantly reminds us that cannot take our freedom and security for granted. The Government will continue to invest substantially in defence and security, to ensure that Norway remains a reliable, responsible and capable partner on the Northern flank of the Alliance », said Norwegian Minister of Defence, Frank Bakke-Jensen.
The Government presented a new Long-Term plan for Defence to Parliament in April 2020. The deliberations were concluded and debated in early summer in Parliament and the majority in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence asked the Government to come back to Parliament with a revised plan. The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence asked for elaboration and detailing on eight specific topics. The revised plan will respond to the requests of the committee, and is based on the ambition of the plan that was presented in April 2020.
The plan details a budget increase in the coming eight years. In 2024 the defence-expenditure will increase to a level of 8,3 billion NOK above the 2020 budget. In the 2021 defence-budget, the Government proposed a spending increase of more than 3 billion NOK. « We will also continue the work of identifying cost-effective solutions wherever possible, both when conducting daily operations and when acquiring new equipment », said Mr Bakke-Jensen.
Personnel and new technology
« The number of personnel will gradually increase in order to strengthen the readiness and availability of the Armed Forces, and gradually generate enhanced combat power », saids the Minister of Defence. The current focus of personnel reforms is on diversifying the personnel structure in order to strengthen the capability and the readiness of the Norwegian Armed Forces, and on the further restructuring of the training and educational system.
Norway will also strengthen the system for innovation in the defence-sector and adapt a comprehensive approach to technology exploitation. « The development of the Armed Forces is an ongoing and long-term undertaking. In 2016, the Government set out the course towards a more capable and sustainable defence-force, better able to face the changing security environment. This new Long Term Plan further builds on that foundation. The Norwegian government continues to strengthen the capability and readiness of the defence of Norway », said Frank Bakke-Jensen, Norwegian Minister of Defence.
Strengthened allied dimension
The defence of Norway starts outside territorial borders and Norwegian participation in NATO operations and readiness forces is an integral part of the overall defence-effort. Norway plays an important role in NATO by operating in and monitoring the Arctic region, by providing situational awareness to the transatlantic security community. The strengthening of NATO’s maritime posture is an integral element of the ongoing adaptation of the Alliance and crucial to Norwegian and allied security.
Allied presence, training and exercise in and close to Norway are of fundamental importance. The Norwegian Armed Forces will continue to train and operate with key allies such as the USA, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, and other units. The government will also continue the development of Norwegian host nation facilities.
Norway will continue to develop the army. Brigade North will be developed with four manoeuvre battalions and with tactical and logistical support. The manoeuvre battalions will be equipped with new main battle tanks, mobile air defence systems and long-range precision fire. Increased firepower, higher readiness and increased sustainability will ensure that the Norwegian Armed Forces remain relevant in the new security environment.
In addition, the modernisation of the Home Guard will continue, including an increased capacity to forward stage weapons, ammunition and other supplies.
K2 Black Panther (Picture source: ROK Defense Ministry)