Defence Products, News

Responding to the Forces of Change

Defence institutions and industries worldwide are undergoing a process of modernization to meet the challenges posed by failed states, human rights violations, terrorism and the threatened use of weapons of mass destruction. In the wake of interventions in Kosovo, Afghanistan...

In the post-war process of rebuilding shattered societies, international defence forces must cooperate with the local population and aid workers to carry out civilian and humanitarian tasks in order to help to bring about lasting stability. As a result of all this, the entire defence-related industry is being transformed as well.

Swept along on this global current of change, the Norwegian defence establishment has to a greater extent had to turn its focus outward towards the international arena. Norway is a dedicated member of NATO, and the country is restructuring its armed forces to harmonize with NATO’s new structure and fulfil its duties. As part of its modernization process, the alliance is increasing its military capacity, streamlining its command structure and making its forces easier to deploy and quicker to react. It is also expanding eastward and now counts among its members Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, in a strategy to create stability in regions marked by unrest.

Developments in information and communications technology (ICT) have also played an instrumental role in the transformation of the Norwegian defence establishment. The current buzzword is “network-centric defence”. Norway, like many other countries around the world, is working to implement a network-based defence concept in which sophisticated ICT solutions link individual units in the field, enabling them to support each other, making the entire force less vulnerable and resulting in a better utilization of resources. Higher up in the military hierarchy, the cross-branch network connection of key defence capacities and players helps to create a comprehensive, up-to-date foundation for decision-making.

Also of great interest, the European Union (EU) is in the process of strengthening its military and operational capacities, with the aim of establishing a rapid reaction force for crisis intervention by 2007. In the course of 2004, the EU will establish the European Defence Agency (EDA) to facilitate development of defence capabilities and procurement of materiel. Norway is planning to cultivate close ties to the agency.

Rising to the Challenge

The transformation of the Norwegian defence establishment within a tight budgetary framework creates both obstacles and possibilities for growth for the Norwegian defence-related industry. Among other cost-cutting measures, Norwegian military planners are prioritizing the purchase of COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) products, so the industry can no longer rely on a steady stream of orders from MILSPEC programmes. On the other hand, the planners are transferring resources from logistics and support activities to operational activities, and are investing heavily in advanced equipment and systems. This gives the industry the opportunity to compete on a commercial basis to deliver products and support functions, such as maintenance, configuration and control, upgrading and customization of domestic and foreign materiel and systems. The industry is also working to make the most of Norway’s emphasis on bilateral and multilateral cooperation for both policy and industrial matters by taking part in numerous international development programmes. Norwegian firms are sought-after participants and have earned a reputation for high-quality, high-tech niche products and services, especially in communications; command, control and information systems; and shipbuilding and missile technology.

The Norwegian defence-related industry receives the support of domestic 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 the defence arena both at home and abroad for over 20 years. Among other functions, NFL keeps its members informed of changes taking place in the Norwegian Armed Forces and acts as an industry spokesman in domestic political circles. NFL also represents the Norwegian defence industry in international forums such as NATO’s Industrial Advisory Group and the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe. NADS was established in 2003 primarily to represent companies that collectively 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. With an eye towards ensuring continued industry growth, these organizations encourage Norwegian companies to collaborate closely, profiling their partnerships in such a way as to appear as a single supplier, and to target a higher level of the supply chain.

In 2003, the Norwegian defence-related industry had an export turnover of more than NOK 3 billion.

The Emergence of the Prime Contractor

As the cost of developing sophisticated military aircraft, vessels, vehicles 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.

Norwegian defence-related companies are small and medium-sized businesses, so the majority work as subcontractors to prime contractors, although some have the capability to deliver entire systems. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) is a partner in many sizeable development programmes and acts as a magnet, attracting Norwegian suppliers of advanced components and technology, and helping to create a fertile 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, KDA 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 segments of the overall Integrated Weapons System, and will also be supplying operator consoles and a new-generation Target Illumination System (TIS). The TIS is also under evaluation for frigate projects worldwide. Meanwhile, KDA 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. It is also working as a subcontractor for General Dynamics Land Systems to further develop, integrate, manufacture, and test the weapon control system for armoured personnel carriers to be delivered to the US Army.

Through offsets the domestic defence industry can also benefit from defence forces’ contracts with foreign prime contractors. For example, the Royal Norwegian Army has ordered Javelin, a one-man-portable, anti-tank weapon system, from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon’s Javelin Joint Venture in the USA. Under the terms of the industrial participation agreement, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin will provide high-tech work share to a number of Norwegian subcontractors, including KDA, Nammo, Vinghøg, Dyno and NATECH.

ICT: Vital to Network-Centric Defence

A keystone of a network-based defence concept is the implementation of advanced technology – particularly Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment and systems. When data, command and operations nodes are linked in a network of networks, defence forces and systems become more versatile and efficient, and less vulnerable. In network-centric defence, each individual field and command unit has access to the networked information regardless of their location. This enables forces stationed in widespread geographical areas to 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. It also allows military decision-makers to lay their plans according to a shared knowledge base and common situation view.

A network-based defence concept relies heavily on the use of advanced communications and data transfer infrastructure. This can be provided by, for example, wireless/mobile satellite networks and/or fixed broadband networks. The Norwegian telecommunications heavyweights Telenor and Nera have extensive experience in this area. One Telenor subsidiary, Telenor Satellite Networks, offers a compact, stand-alone VSAT-based mobile communications centre for peacekeeping and emergency operations. Quickly and easily deployable, the communications centre provides a myriad of applications from telephony and secure data communications to e-mail, Internet and payment transaction facilities. The Norwegian delegation of the NATO Kosovo Force has already installed these communications centres in Pristina, Kosovo and Skopje, Macedonia, to secure vital operational connections to the Norwegian Defence Forces’ digital data and telephony network in Norway, as well as between the two sites.

Other Norwegian companies have shown great ingenuity in adapting communications equipment and systems originally designed and manufactured for the Norwegian Armed Forces to meet the needs of defence and peacekeeping forces worldwide. Among them, Thales Communications currently delivers its state-of-the art Cryptel®-IP encryption system to NATO, and is working as a subcontractor to Armaris of France 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 has awarded Thales two studies to define and test future battlespace communications systems. Meanwhile, Kongsberg Defence Communications will be delivering an army-wide radio system including vehicle-mounted, man-portable and handheld versions of its Multi-Role Radio (MRR) to Hungarian Defence Forces. The company will also be supplying Kuwait with a mobile communications system encompassing the EriTac tactical trunk multimedia communications system and an integrated MRR system, and Oman with tactical communications systems based on complete mobile networks.

Command and control solutions, another Norwegian speciality, are vital for modern warfare and crisis management, as they can be used for both offensive and defensive operations on the ground and in the air. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) markets the renowned ground-based HAWK-AMRAAM air defence system, developed in partnership with the Raytheon Company of the United States. Easily tailored to suit specific user requirements, the system features KDA’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-AMRAAM 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.

Network-centric defence also increases the demand for ISTAR capacity (Intelligence-Surveillance-Target Acquisition-Reconnaissance). Central to such a capacity are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), sensors and C2I systems. Norwegian companies offer technology and systems in this area as well. Among them, Data Respons delivers real-time and embedded solutions for military applications such as electronic warfare and C2IS sensor technology, and SiMiCon specializes in airborne data acquisition using 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.


Littoral Warfare: Making Waves

A maritime nation, Norway has extensive expertise in naval applications, particularly littoral warfare, which has become the object of growing international interest. Littoral warfare is the use of combined forces for military combat in and near shallow water depths. It is an extremely complex and dynamic part of naval warfare and encompasses operations at sea, on land and in the air, including anti-submarine warfare, mine counter-measures, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Littoral combat ships must be small, fast, easy to manoeuvre, and relatively easy to reconfigure for use in multiple roles. 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, a specialist in fast boat technology, is drawing international attention. In partnership with Armaris and KDA, Umoe Mandal has formed the Skjold Prime Consortium, which will be building and equipping five Skjold Class surface-effect fast patrol boats (FPBs) for the Royal Norwegian Navy, with deliveries from 2006 to 2009. Together, KDA and Armaris have developed the Senit 2000 combat management system for surface craft specifically for littoral warfare.

The US Navy has shown great interest in Umoe Mandal as it is in the process of acquiring littoral combat ships. Umoe Mandal is part of a team that includes industry giants Raytheon and John McMullen and which submitted a focus-mission ship study to the US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command in 2003, and preliminary designs in February 2004. The team is hoping to win the final system design contract, which is expected to be awarded in spring/ summer 2004. The contract includes an option to proceed in 2005 with detailed design and construction of a prototype vessel at a US shipyard with the help of a technology transfer from Umoe Mandal. This project has the potential to become one of the largest naval programmes in the world, and is creating a stir in the US. As for Europe, an international task force has been put together to determine the usefulness of the littoral combat ship in the navies of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States.


KDA is currently developing the NSM, a new-generation, naval strike missile designed for littoral waters as well as open sea scenarios. Originally commissioned by the Royal Norwegian Navy to equip its new fast patrol boats and frigates, the NSM features an advanced design that allows it to fly around and over landmasses. KDA’s partners in the programme are MBDA France and EADS/TDW of Germany; the missile will be completed on schedule in 2005.

From Mine-Clearing Vehicles to Camp Infrastructure

High-tech systems alone cannot meet every need in the field. For one, defence, peacekeeping and crisis management forces must be able to safely reach their destinations in order to carry out their duties. On the ground, landmines pose one of the greatest threats to life and limb for civilians and military personnel alike. In response to this, NDS Nauteknikk has developed an innovative flail-based anti-personnel mine-clearing system which is produced by Kværner Eureka. Alvis Moelv manufactures mine-clearing vehicles as well, while Karotek Systemer delivers vehicle armour for military vehicles.

Forces must also be properly clothed and sheltered. Norwegian companies K. Stormark and Cato Ringstad supply a wide variety of protective gear to shield military personnel from bullets; nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical (NBRC) contamination; freezing temperatures; and other threats. When it comes to offering shelter, Uniteam is the Scandinavian leader, 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.

Uniteam has also contributed components to ROFI Industries’ Camp Kit, a comprehensive yet flexible camp system now being utilized by both the Norwegian Air Force and Home Guard. Each tent in the Camp Kit can accommodate up to 24 people, and the specialized packing system allows for the transporting of up to 20 complete tents in two 20 ft containers. A NADS cluster product, the camp system also contains components by fellow NADS member Finsam, among others.

Keeping up with the pace of change set by today’s defence establishments is no small task for defence industries around the globe. With the reduction in defence spending and emphasis on new capacities, domestic suppliers can no longer count on automatically winning contracts in their home countries. Instead they have to prove that their solutions are some of the best, most competitively priced on the market. The Norwegian defence-related industry is aware of the downside of the restructuring of the Norwegian Defence Forces, but it is focusing on using its considerable ingenuity to make the most of the opportunities created by the transformation. Norwegian companies are continuing to roll out high-quality components, technology, equipment, systems and gear. At the same time, they are looking at new ways to profitably serve defence institutions and industries at home and abroad through domestic and cross-border cooperation, in an effort to maintain consistent industry growth.