Procurement: October 24, 2004


Norway has cancelled plans to swap with the Netherlands a surplus battery of surface-launched AMRAAM anti-aircraft missiles in exchange for 18 new 155mm self-propelled howitzers. The Norwegians officially say the cost of introducing the howitzers into service had been underestimated and there was no money in the 2005-08 defense plan. But the Norwegian Army had called the howitzers one of its three "core weapons platforms" in a recent document, although some politicians considered the weapon inappropriate since Norway was working to develop lighter and more mobile forces better suited for expeditionary/coalition operations. 

The Dutch Ministry of Defense is "not amused" at the decision since they had already done their budget plans and were ready to present them to the government. The letter of cooperation to do the swap was signed over a year ago and flies in the face of a wide series of efforts for enhanced cooperation between the Netherlands and Norway, including participation of Norway's rapid-reaction battalion as an integrated component of the 43 Netherlands Mechanized Brigade. The 43 Brigade is scheduled to be a part of NATO's Rapid Response Force from January to July 2005; Norway's battalion is equipped with surplus Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks acquired from the Netherlands. 

The Norwegian army is left scrambling to revamp its artillery modernization plans, including refurbishing and updating its existing force of 155mm self-propelled and towed howitzers until 2008 and improving the capabilities of their MLRS rocket launch system. It is not known what the Dutch will do with the howitzers now, but the continued storage and maintenance of the systems until they can find a buyer is bound to annoy them still further. Doug Mohney


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