12/01/2016: In these photos provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, the Norwegian forces are viewed during the Flotex defense exercise held in the month of November.
Norway’s naval exercise Flotex might be the most beautiful of all military exercises, at least when it comes to surroundings.
The annual naval exercise is held every autumn.
Most of the Norwegian Navy’s capacities take part, including corvettes, support vessels, frigates and submarines.
In addition, rangers from the Coastal Ranger Command participate with their fast assault craft, Combat Boat 90.
The aim is to train all naval departments in planning and executing tactical operations at sea.
“Another aim is to build naval battle force, and to demonstrate visible and credible military presence in our northern seas”, says Head of Navy, Commodore Ole Morten Sandquist.
The Norwegian Navy spends about 40 per cent of its sailing hours in Northern Norway.
Credit: Norwegian Ministry of Defence
In an article published earlier this year, Norwegian officials are cited as looking for a revitalized NATO presence in the High North.
NATO has been called on to revitalise the notion of collective defence in the maritime domain by a senior Norwegian defence official. The move was suggested to offset what Ministry of Defence State Secretary Oystein Bo sees as strategic change in the nature of the maritime environment and the security risks therein.
Opening the UDT 2016 undersea defence and security conference and exhibition in Oslo on 1 June, Bo said that the need to revitalise the maritime leg of the collective defence concept was driven by the fact that “the strategic environment is changing [and] we are entering a new normal”.
He argued also that greater NATO presence is needed at sea in northern waters.
“Allied military peacetime activity in Norway and the North Atlantic remains an important part of a credible and robust policy. Therefore, we would definitely like to see a more frequent peacetime presence of allied forces in the High North and in the North Atlantic.”
For Norway, the development of the ‘new normal’ was evident in the High North, he said, noting that there are two sides to this development. On the one hand, he said, generating stability in the Arctic was a common interest that could form the basis for co-operation between the region’s stakeholders.
Norwegian and Russian maritime security agencies, for example, have long been co-operating on a number of low-level maritime security tasks including over-fishing, with the respective coastguards also co-operating to provide safety and security capacity for the benefit of both countries’ fishing communities.
In addition, the two countries have put in place a maritime delimitation agreement covering the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, and a ‘hot line’ runs between Norway’s joint operational headquarters and the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet.
Recently, Norway has announced that they are adding a P-8 acquisition to their coming F-35 force as part of their enhanced defense posture.
To provide for a maritime surveillance capability that can meet current and future challenges, the Norwegian Government has announced their intention to acquire five P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the Armed Forces,” the Norwegian Defense Ministry said in a statement attributed to Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide.
“P-8A Poseidon is a formidable platform for monitoring our oceans, and will provide both Norwegian and allied civil and military authorities with a sound basis for decisions.
With modern sensors and weapons, the new Poseidon aircraft continue and improve this capability.”
The aircraft would replace Norway’s six Lockheed Martin-made P-3C Orion aircraft and three DA-20 Falcons, jets made by the French company Dassault.
The contract for the Poseidon aircraft also includes sensors, surveillance systems, anti-submarine weapons and support systems, according to the release.
This joins with the UK emphasis on the return to ASW and North Sea defense efforts as well,
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.
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