Artillery vehicle

Norway bolsters artillery with new K9 howitzer deal and tank contract slated for end of year

The K9 self-propelled howitzer mainly uses 155mm ammunition and has a range of 460 km (Photo: Finnish Army)

DUBLIN – The Norwegian Defense Materiel Agency (NDMA) has today signed an option with its partner Hanwha Defense of South Korea for the delivery of four additional K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzers and eight more K10 ammunition supply vehicles.

The option exercised is part of an initial 1.8 billion crown ($180 million) contract entered into Between both parties in 2017 and brings Oslo’s full K9 order to 28 systems. Likewise, the acquisition of K10, the automated robotic support unit of K9, will increase to a total of 14 vehicles.

All deliveries are expected to take place within the next two years, according to an NDMA public affairs spokesperson.

Oslo’s move follows Poland’s agreement with Hanwha on a $2.4 billion K9 deal in August – the largest export contract for the artillery system which was also ordered by the Hanwha’s home country of South Korea, as well as Turkey, India, Finland, Estonia, Australia and Egypt. .

The reinforcement of Norwegian artillery firepower comes ahead of a key decision expected before the end of 2022 for the acquisition of a new main battle tank (MBT), a contractual contest between the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, which offers the Leopard 2A7, and the South Korean Hyundai Rotem which launches the K2 Black Panther.

“Both manufacturers submitted offers with the vehicles involved in cold winter testing in Norway last year,” the NDMA spokesperson said. said of the MBT competition. “It’s been a painstaking process so far.”

He also estimated that the new MBT contract was worth around $1–2 billion, with the Norwegian Army’s requirement set at 72 vehicles. Entry into service is scheduled for 2025, coinciding with the retirement of the Leopard L2A4.

Norway plans to further increase its ground capabilities through the acquisition of additional infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) before the army raises a fourth mechanized battalion, although it is not clear what type. vehicle it will be.

“Rather than just ordering more CV-90 IFVs [already operated by Norway] the government will conduct preparatory work to assess whether other options are best or purchase additional CV-90s,” the NDMA spokesperson said.

The government is expected to make a recommendation on “how to move forward” with the IFV program before the end of the year, with a procurement phase potentially starting at the end of 2024, the spokesperson confirmed.

“A [request for information] was developed before the summer, with an internal evaluation being developed,” he added.

There is also great interest surrounding investment in a long-range precision fire program, but approval for procurement by Oslo will not be obtained until NDMA has carried out key activities such as market research and cost analysis.

“At that point, it will then be up to the government to make a prioritization decision or we could see a tender come in late 2023 or 2024,” the NDMA spokesperson added.

The latest Norwegian document on future defense acquisitions, published in April 2022, indicates that the introduction of a new long-range sniper system is planned for 2029.

In an October 11 interview with Breaking Defense, Major General Lars Lervik, Norway’s top military officer, and his Swedish counterpart, Major General Karl Engelbrektson, were unequivocal about the investment in long-range fires. Lervik said, “It’s about having range and precision, but it’s also about having volume. So that’s the tradeoff, at least that we’re looking at, you have to have systems that can reach out, but we also have to have the volume to stay in close combat.

Norway’s progress in land acquisitions is seen as key to deterring or countering Russian aggression, especially in the context where the two countries share a 198 km border in the Arctic.