Air Defense: NASAMS Goes Mobile



December 15, 2011: Norway is spending $67 million to upgrade its NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) air defense systems. The upgrades include a self-propelled (rather than towed) launcher vehicle and upgrades to the fire control system and radars. NASAMS last went through an upgrade in 2007 creating NASAMS 2. A NASAMS battery consists of 12 launcher vehicles (each carrying six missiles), eight radar vehicles, one fire control center, and one tactical control vehicle.

 Norway developed this system in the early 1990s and deployed the first missiles and radars in 1995. NASAMS uses the American AMRAMM radar guided air-to-air missiles but fired from a six missile container instead of an aircraft. This ground based AMRAAM weighs 159 kg (350 pounds) and has a range of 30 kilometers (it's radar can see out 50-70 kilometers) and can hit targets as high as 21 kilometers (65,000 feet).

What makes the AMRAMM so effective as a SAM is the capabilities of its guidance system (which is about two thirds of the $400,000 missile's cost.) Testing also revealed that AMRAAM could be used to shoot down cruise missiles. Norway believed that the AMRAAM (also combat proven) used by NASAMS was a good long term choice for air defense because the United States is constantly updating the missile.

Norway pioneered the use of AMRAAM as a surface-to-air missile and other systems have been developed using AMRAAM. But the Norwegian version is seen as the best of the lot. Spain, Holland, Finland, Chile, and the United States also use NASAMS.

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