Enhancing Northern Tier Defense: The UK and Norway Prepare for the Coming of the P-8


2016-11-16 According to a story on the UK Ministry of Defence website, the UK and Norway have agreed on new cooperation on Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

With the coming of the P-8 to the RAF, the UK MoD is looking to ways to enhance its impact on defense in the North Sea and beyond.

Sir Michael, who visited Norway’s top military headquarters, close to the Arctic Circle on Thursday, announced that the UK and Norway would work closer on Maritime Patrol Aircraft cooperation, including in reducing costs and increasing operational effectiveness.

The UK announced that it would procure nine Boeing P8 MPA in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The new capability, which will be based in Scotland, will allow for enhanced situational awareness in key areas such as the North Atlantic, and will also further increase the protection of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and our two new aircraft carriers.

Sir Michael also visited Norway’s Bodø Main Air Station, home of two F-16 squadrons and a squadron of Search and Rescue Sea King helicopters, where he signed a new agreement on host nation support for UK exercises in the country, further increasing the UK and Norway’s ability to exercise, train and operate together.

Mr Fallon welcomed the fact that British armed forces undertake yearly winter training in Norway, particularly 3 Commando Brigade in Harstad and Evenes and elements of Joint Helicopter Command at Bardufoss.

The Defence Secretary boards a Norwegian Maritime Patrol Aircraft with his counterpart, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide. Credit: Norwegian Armed Forces
The Defence Secretary boards a Norwegian Maritime Patrol Aircraft with his counterpart, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide. Credit: Norwegian Armed Forces

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

Britain needs Maritime Patrol Aircraft to keep watch over the seas.

As part of our £178 billion defence equipment programme, we’ve committed to new maritime patrol aircraft that are able to monitor threats to Britain and our armed forces.

By stepping up cooperation with Norway on maritime patrol, we will help keep Britain safer and more secure.

The Defence Secretary arrived in Norway following meetings with the Northern Group countries on Wednesday in Copenhagen, where he reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to European defence.

As part of this, the Defence Secretary announced that 5 Battalion The Rifles would lead the UK’s battalion in Estonia next year, part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in the East.

Work on the UK’s MPA programme is progressing well, including the investment on infrastructure in Lossiemouth in Scotland, where the planes will be based.

Former armed forces personnel who previously served on UK Nimrod are also re-joining the RAF to help operate the future P-8s.

12 have recently re-joined and more will re-join in the future


And the Norwegian Ministry of Defence website added this with a November 10, 2016 article with regard to the Northern Headquarters’ Conference conducted at the 8-9 November meetings at the Norwegian Joint Headquarters in Bodø, Norway:

As a security forum for operational-level headquarters within the Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS) Area of Responsibility (AOR) in the north-eastern part of the Alliance, the forum enables Commanders from NATO and partner nations to discuss areas of common regional interest, and to raise NATO’s profile within, and on the periphery, of Alliance territories.

In his opening remarks, General Salvatore Farina, Commander JFC Brunssum, emphasized the opportunity to discuss operational challenges, and to find practical solutions focusing on our area of responsibility “where we are working closely together”.  

He thanked Lieutenant General Rune Jakobsen, Commander of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, for his hospitality, and expressed his appreciation for the close links to NATO’s partners from Finland and Sweden – “who have a significant contribution to make to security in the strategically important northern region”, Farina added.

With the outcomes of the Warsaw Summit fresh in everyone’s minds, this year’s event was an ideal platform to discuss selected outcomes affecting the AOR, to focus on NATO’s High North and parts of the long term Adaptation Measures of the Readiness Action Plan, including the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) and the establishment of an enhanced forward presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in early 2017.  

General Farina underlined the important role of the Multi National Corps North-East, Stettin, Poland, in implementing and conducting the enhanced forward presence drawing upon its expertise in land operations.


About Europe’s Northern Group:

By Elisabeth Braw, June 11, 2015

Under ordinary circumstances, the Northern Group would hardly be headline news. The association of northern European countries holds regular ministerial meetings, strategic meetings, and expert-level meetings, but so do many other intergovernmental outfits. Lately, though, Russian analysts have been watching this very vanilla-sounding Nordic association carefully.

That’s because while its member states may consider themselves very peaceful indeed, the five-year-old Northern Group is a military alliance. Take a look at the group’s members: Britain, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the Nordic states, the Baltic states. Only two countries in this 11-strong congregation are not NATO members: Sweden and Finland. And there they are, collaborating with their northern neighbors on defense issues and participating in talks held by the Northern Group’s NATO members.

“The Northern Group provides a key platform to help shape and deliver Europe’s and NATO’s response to the security implications of Russia’s indefensible actions in Ukraine and whose incursions of European air and sea space have increased,” Britain’s defense secretary, Michael Fallon, said ahead of the group’s meeting in November last year, at which point annual air incursions into the members’ territory had reached 100—three times as many as during all of 2013. Not bad for an alliance conceived by then Defense Secretary Liam Fox essentially to keep Britain engaged with its NATO allies.

Sure, the Northern Group is hardly essential to its members who also belong to NATO. It’s a complement, not an alternative, said Norwegian State Secretary Roger Ingebrigtsen at an earlier meeting. But for Sweden and Finland, who are still vacillating about NATO membership, it provides a convenient partial solution that, handily enough, doesn’t require a major political debate.

Though Finland’s new government has said that it will conduct a study on NATO membership, the step in no way indicates that Finland will eventually apply to become a member.

Besides, it would have to join with Sweden, whose government has not embarked on a similar fact-finding mission, though in April it announced that it wants to strengthen cooperation with NATO. Even if the pair would apply for NATO membership, it would be a long process before they formally joined.

By contrast, Sweden and Finland are already full members of the Northern Group.

That’s good news as far as their defense capabilities are concerned, one might argue. But it’s no surprise that Russian officials suspect the group of really being a mini-NATO. And the Russian military correctly judges that in a crisis situation, NATO would come to Sweden and Finland’s aid.


The slideshow shows the Minister of Defence visiting Jax Navy last year and the photos are credited to the US Navy.