Norway has long been an ally of the United States. When the U.S. worked to develop the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, Norway immediately became a co-founder. Since then, Norway has worked with the United States on different strategic issues, ranging from its support for the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan to its membership in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. [i] As one of the NATO members states that borders Russia, Norway requires highly skilled and effective missile defense capabilities.
Air Defense Capabilities
In 1989, Norway first began using the Mistral man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS). A short-range air defense system, the Mistral interceptors track its targets through infrared seekers. In the 1990s, the air-defense system underwent massive upgrades, which include an improved missile, extended range, and the ability to intercept helicopters with reduced infrared signatures; this became the Mistral-2. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Norway sent its entire stockpile of Mistral MANPADS—around 100 total—to Ukraine. [ii]
Nevertheless, Norway retains its FIM-92 “Stinger” capacity. The Stinger is a short-range MANPAD, used to provide air defense capabilities when troops are forward deployed. This removes the necessity for immediate air support, should enemy aircraft threaten the soldiers.
Norway also operates the Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam Radar (AMB). This three-dimensional search radar is designed to work with short- and long-range surface-to-air missile systems. It uses its surveillance systems to support its Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) function to recognize and respond to incoming threats. Every second, the Giraffe AMB is able to cover the entire search volume.
Missile Defense Capabilities
The Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace developed the National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS), one of the world’s most advanced systems, for the Royal Norwegian Air Force in the 1990s. In 2007, NASAMS was upgraded to NASAMS II, which uses new radars and 12 individual missile launchers for quick identification and destruction of targets. This system, of which there are six individual units, can be used for identifying, engaging, and destroying helicopters, aircraft, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).[iii] It is also capable of protecting high-value assets and mass population centers against air-to-surface threats.[iv]
Norway also operates an SPY-1F radar system on its Aegis frigates. Originally an air defense system, it now incorporates ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability as well.
Norway is working to upgrade its NASAMS II system to NASAMS III by 2024.[v] Norway is also in the process of upgrading its General Dynamics F-16 aircraft fleet in favor of the F-35 Lightning II, which it intends to have fully operational by 2025.[vi]
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