Norway's new Poseidons to bolster NATO's growing anti-submarine capabilities

Norway’s announcement that it plans to deploy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft to the Arctic in 2022 marks significant progress in the country’s long-term effort to bolster defence capabilities and readiness in the region, reports.

The Ministry of Defence unveiled the timeline on August 13th, having already approved Evenes Air Station as the main base for its future Boeing-made fleet.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force ordered five P-8A Poseidons to replace its in-service fleet of six Lockheed Martin P-3C/N Orion maritime patrol aircraft and two Dassault Falcon 20 special mission aircraft. The service’s P-3 Orions operate from the Andoya Air Station, located 190 miles inside the Arctic Circle.

Evenes Air Station offers the P-8As shorter flying times to key strategic areas within Norway’s maritime security zone in the high north. The aircraft to be are equipped with submarine-detection sonobuoy technology, and they can identify and launch torpedoes to eliminate hostile submarines.

Norway signed a contract to purchase five P-8As in March 2017, with delivery dates in 2022 and 2023. The first of the P-8As on order underwent tests during the first week of August, jointly conducted by Boeing and Norway’s MoD in the United States.

The acquisition forms part of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ strategic plan to beef up maritime surveillance in the high north against the backdrop of increasing submarine activity by Russia’s Northern Fleet and foreign surface vessels in areas west of the Barents Sea, including the Norwegian Sea and the northern Atlantic Ocean.

We have a challenging strategic environment that constantly reminds us that we cannot take our freedom and security for granted. Norway will continue to invest substantially in defence and security to ensure we remain a reliable, responsible and capable partner on the Northern flank of the Alliance.

Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen.

The Norwegian military has developed a plan to strengthen its ability to track newer Russian vessels, including the fourth-generation, Yasen-class multimission submarines equipped with superior stealth features, compared to other subs in Russia’s Northern Fleet. Armed with long-range cruise missiles, Yasen subs pose a new level of concern for Norway and its NATO allies.

Image: MC2 Sean Rinner/U.S. Navy

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