Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to
open this important and timely seminar on the process leading up to
the purchase of new Combat Aircraft for the Norwegian armed
forces. I warmly welcome you all. The high turnout underlines
the great public interest in this issue.
No wonder – given the cost and time
perspectives involved. Whatever outcome, the decisions we make now
will affect CHODS, minsters, state secretaries, Air Force Generals
and ministries of finance and a whole lot of other people for
decades to come. If manned aircraft are at all relevant at that
time, the next similar round can hardly be expected before
somewhere around the middle of the century.
Hence, we want to place our sights
on the future, not the past. Although it is important to learn from
history, we want to place ourselves firmly in the 21
st> Century when we make decisions. We must make our
decision based on what
we will be doing, not on what
we used to do.
This has an impact on our defence
procurement policy, our foreign and security policy, and our
industrial policy. A combat aircraft purchase is – due to its
nature and size – a major lever for a conglomerate of other issues.
Hence, it is all the more important that we strive for a
systematic, balanced process, based on transparency and competition
between the three candidates.
Why a combat aircraft?
Our part of the world is characterized by peace and
stability, our region is s perceived as safe and free from military
threats. Norway remains committed to an UN-led world order, based
on a solid foundation of international law. Why then do we need a
modern combat aircraft capability? Is this a contradiction, a
paradox? Not at all!
The security situation on the globe
is changing. One could say that we are in a more fluid security
situation. In the 1990’s we found ourselves in the post Cold War
era, and after 2001 in the post 9/11 era. Today, other
international dynamics are emerging – or becoming more visible -
than just a few years ago. We are entering the “post-post 9/11”
era. This affects not only far-away theatres – but also our
economic and security environment at home.
Predicting the future is difficult,
and therefore flexibility is paramount. Another question is where
in the spectre from “low end” to “high end” should we aim
We see the future development of
our armed forces in a international context, and there has been
considerable consideration not the least within NATO about the
future armed forces. In general, they are becoming more
specialized, and not all can have - or want to have - combat
Whenever we participate in
international operations, we do so in a UN or NATO context,
cooperating with other allies and partners. So – international
operations alone is not an argument for maintaining our own modern
combat aircraft capability. For example, within the framework of
international cooperation Norway could focus much stronger on
providing ground troops for international operations.
I may be that countries of
comparable size on the Continent - within the division of labour in
NATO - want to solely focus on such capabilities – which are
essential in order to get the job done.
As a result, if the primary task
for the Norwegian Armed Forces were to contribute to Allied
operations in foreign theatres, we might have considered another
line of defence investments than the high-tech air and naval
platforms that we are currently pursuing.
However, one must keep in mind that
Norway faces a unique set of challenges close to home, very
different from the ones facing almost any other European country.
These challenges are in particular connected to the High North,
Norway’s number one strategic priority. This region is in a league
of its own when it comes to securing Norwegian long-term interests
and following up on our international responsibilities.
Since the end of the cold war, the
threat of an invasion from the East has evaporated, and at this
time there is no military threat to our territory. Nevertheless,
the High North remains strategically important, not only to Norway,
but in an international context as well.
One of these reasons is the regions
considerable energy resources. The global demand for oil and gas is
increasing. Large actors like the USA and the EU are looking to
spread their energy supply on more producing countries.
At the same time, new strong actors
are emerging on the global economic and security arena, with
economies that are growing at a very fast rate, contributing to an
increase in the global demand for energy resources.
Norway is perceived as a stable and
reliable supplier of energy, and compared to a number of other oil-
and gas regions, the High North is characterized by cooperation and
political stability. This increases international attention towards
the High North, - as an important region for the production and
transportation of vital energy resources.
However, the environment and the
natural resources in the region must be seen as a whole. For
example, the region is home to large and important fish stock, and
these must be managed in a careful and sustainable manner.
Although most of the challenges and
possibilities in the High North are connected to environmental,
economic and civilian issues, this does not mean that a military
presence is irrelevant. On the contrary! It is the need to
safeguard Norwegian interests in a long-term perspective that
dictates a strong military presence in the northern parts of our
territory. This is an important political signal – both inside and
outside our borders. It is a signal to other countries, to
companies, and to our own population. The message is that we are
serious about our strategic
priorities regarding the High North, and that we accept the
consequences of the region’s strategic location and resources.
This is why Norway maintains a
high-end naval and air
capabilities such as modern frigates, and it is also why the
Government just before Christmas decided that a high-end, modern
combat aircraft capability must be a part of our future military
Even though we have our primary
strategic attention directed towards the High North, we will - of
course - continue to contribute to international operations, but
our contribution will be a function of the capabilities we need at
The need to maintain a strong and flexible military
capability and the need to focus on our responsibility in the High
North were core considerations when the government at the end of
last year approved the conceptual solution for the combat aircraft
acquisition. The continued process includes choosing not only the
aircraft, but also determining the number of aircraft.
This will be the largest Norwegian
investment ever, and it is not, like some have claimed, a choice
between a Lada and a Jaguar. All three candidates are modern and
future-oriented platforms. We are in fact choosing among three
There are also no security policy
obstacles for any of the candidates. On the contrary, there are
strong strategic arguments for all of them.
Moreover, they are all NATO
compatible and will be in use by other Allies, something which is
an absolute requirement for us.
When combat aircraft are in action,
things happen very fast, and it is vital that our future combat
aircraft have the ability to operate integrated with our allies and
partners, also in high-intensity operations, both in Norway and in
Operational versus industrial factors
The most important criterion for the selection of our
future combat aircraft is the ability to solve the tasks of the
Norwegian Armed Forces, and our main focus must be is to secure the
best capability for our armed forces.
The aircraft we select must be a
useful tool for contributing to secure Norwegian interests. The
decision we make will have a substantial impact on the ability of
the Norwegian Armed Forces to solve their tasks – in a long term
However, all three candidates are
good candidates, and they are all under development, and will all
meet our operative requirements. If we decide to make this massive
investment, we will therefore also actively use the combat aircraft
purchase as a means to promote and develop the Norwegian defence
Therefore, the industrial package
will also be a very important criterion when we select our future
combat aircraft. The Government pursues an active industrial
policy, and we see a substantial industrial package as an important
strategic tool: It will serve to strengthen Norwegian defence
industry’s competence and competitiveness, especially in
technologically advanced areas. This will create a platform for
industrial spin-off effects in a 40-50 year perspective.
Norway’s economy is currently very
sound and unemployment is almost non-existent. It is important that
we use the advantageous financial position that we are in now, to
prepare Norwegian industry for a future beyond the oil and gas era
– before we wake up to the shock of not having prepared for
different economic times. A vital, high-tech defence industry can
play a constructive role in such an effort.
This is even more so because the
defence sector is one of the few areas where we are exempted from
WTO and EEA regulation, and where the state therefore can play a
more active role. We want to promote the access of a competitive
Norwegian defence industry in an increasingly international defence
Another reason why the industrial
package is important to us is that in a ten year perspective, the
acquisition of new combat aircraft will place a heavy burden on our
defence investment budget. Within this timeframe, it will be very
difficult to find room for other major investments in the defence
It is thus necessary that Norwegian
defence industry must benefit from this investment. We cannot
accept a development where the Norwegian defence industry sits on
the “back-burner” for the next ten years – or more. This would be
the equivalent of erasing a technologically advanced sector in
Norwegian industry, resulting in the loss of many jobs and
weakening our national industrial base.
Presented industrial plans
Last fall we conducted a thorough analysis of the
industrial plans presented by the three candidates. Their
industrial packages should be designed to strengthen their
competitiveness in this decision making process. The competitive
edge will be gained by placing emphasis on contributing to the
creation of the future industry platform in Norway.
The team evaluating the industrial
plans of the three candidates have concluded that that all three
satisfy our basic industrial expectations, but there are still
unresolved issues. However, over the last year there has been
positive development; all three candidates now offer industrial
packages that are considerably improved compared to what they were
a year ago, but there is still room for improvement. It is
not the volume, as much as the technological value of the
industrial package, which will be the pivotal point.
It is important to remember that this continues to be a
competitive process. We feel, however, that we have achieved the
goal we set out for the last year: to establish a genuine and fair
competition with three candidates, and we will maintain a close
dialogue with all three, the Eurofighter, JAS Gripen and Joint
Because the acquisition of new
combat aircraft is an issue with wide-ranging implications, we are
working closely with representatives from the Ministry of Trade and
industry, our armed forces, our military research establishment,
and Norwegian industry among others, in order to make the best
possible decision - taking all factors into consideration.
Conclusion – the road ahead
Earlier this week we decided to sign the Production MoU
for the JSF. Simultaneously, we aim at signing development
agreements with the two other candidates in the very near
future. By doing so, we are taking the fighter project into a
new phase, but with all three competitors firmly on board.
In the next year, we will continue
and intensify the close dialogue with all three candidates. This
will form the basis for the recommendation that we hope to present
to parliament in 2008.
Let it be clear - we see the
acquisition of new combat aircraft not only in a long-term
capability and strategic
perspective, but also in a long term
Thank you very much for your
attention. I wish you a very fruitful and stimulating