Speech by Øystein Bø at the State Visit to Australia

Keynot speech by deputy Minister of Defence of Norway Øystein Bø at a seminar February 23rd 2015 by Innovation Norway in Australia, in cooperation with the Defence and Security Industries Association of Norway and the Australian Industry Group Defence Council.

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Mr. Minister, ladies and gentlemen, dear Australian and Norwegian friends,

It is an honour and privelege for me to be invited to   address you today at the Australian-Norwegian Defence Industry Cooperation Seminar, on the occasion of the State Visit to Australia by Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway.

I am grateful to Innovation Norway for organising this seminar, in cooperation with the Defence and Security Industries Association of Norway and the Australian Industry Group Defence Council.

Australia is rapidly becoming one of the most significant partners for Norwegian Defence Industry. The importance of creating meeting places like this seminar, to further strengthen our relations, and to explore new industrial opportunities, should not be underestimated.

Australia and Norway are far apart geographically, but yet so close when it comes to shared values,  common challenges and cultural heritage.

Our soldiers have been fighting shoulder to shoulder in Afghanistan. Both our countries are facing increased threats stemming from radicalization and extremism. And, we both work hard in the UN and other fora to promote and uphold the international legal order, and to strengthen human rights.

All this is based on a clear commitment to actively contribute to international peace and stability.

As a founding member of NATO, Norway highly appreciates Australia´s long standing efforts as one of NATOs most active and valued partners. The invitation to become an Enhanced Opportunities Partner nation (EOP) reflects the value of your contributions to the Alliance, and the trust Allies have in you.

In a globalised world, we must take into account that threats far away have a bearing on our own security. Your commitment to working with NATO is a good example in this regard. The participation of a Norwegian frigate to last years´ RIMPAC excercise, far away from our waters, is another.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For European security, 2014 was a year of great change. Security challenges we thought had been dealt with, reoccured on European soil, and new and complex threats emerged at our doorstep.

The Russian annexation of Crimea and its aggression in Eastern Ukraine are clear breaches of international law. It has led to increased tension between Russia and the West, and to instability and unpredictability in Europe. The downing of MH17 last July, causing the tragic death of 38 Australian citizens, is one horrible example of the global effect of threats occuring far away.

We are, no doubt, witnessing a lasting change in the European security landscape. We all hope that current efforts to resolve the Ukraine situation will be succesful. But, regardsless of that, we will still be facing the fact that one European country has, for the first time since the 2nd World War, forcefully, taken a part of a neighbouring country, in order to achieve her political aims.   

2014 was also a challenging year in the Middle East. South of Europe, weak governance in many states has enabled the expansion of militant extremist groups.

ISIL´s barbaric, medieval violence and brutalism, combined with modern information technology, leaves no one ignorant.

Norway has decided to deploy up to 120 soldiers to the international coalition against ISIL in Iraq. This is in addition to our humanitarian, economic and political support.

We, like you, are deeply concerned about the number of Norwegians who are radicalized and travel to Syria to participate in the fighting, often against civilians.

The experiences and attitudes they bring back, may constitute a threat against the Norwegian society. The cruel terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen recently, are stark reminders of what we too, could be faced with.

The threat of ISIL and Russia’s actions are undermining key values of the international society. It is both an obligation, and in our interest, to protect these values.  

One element in doing so, is to equip our armed forces with modern and updated capabilites. To this end, we also depend on a capable national defence industry.

Norway has a vibrant high-technology industrial sector.  At the same time, there are limits to what a nation of five million people should seek to achieve.  Hence, in the area of defence, we do not aim at producing entire aircraft, armoured vehicles or other complete platforms. Rather, we aim at developing highly competetive niche products, focussing on a few prioritized technology areas.

 

Our cooperation with the Norwegian defence industry is based on a pragmatic no-nonsense business culture, and on mutual trust. We know the strengths, and focus on these. I have, personally, also noted a feature that is so important to those partners who depend on us: When the Norwegian industry say they are going to deliver, they always do their utmost to do exactly what they have promised.

Norwegian defence industry and Austalian companies have already developed well functioning partnerships.  We aim at taking these further, to respond to our own common needs, as well as to the increasing number of opportunities created by emerging markets in Asia and elsewhere. Several of our most successful companies are represented here today. 

Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace is developing the Joint Strike Missile (JSM).  The JSM is developed from the proven technology of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), and is tailored for the F-35 weapons bay. The missile will have the capability to strike both naval and land targets, and will be a fully Network Enabled Weapon (NEW) with a weapons datalink incorporated. To us, the JSM is the missile that will give the F-35 the operational cabability we deem necessary.

Kongsberg is also offering the Protector Remote Weapon Station, developed together with another Norwegian company, Vinghoeg.

This versatile system can be fitted with a range of weapons and on a large number of vehicles, offering personnel, also in lightly armoured vehicles, a much higher degree of protection and firepower. More than 15,000 systems are in use world-wide, including  by the Australian Army, on its ASLAV armoured vehicles.

NAMMO has developed the 25 mm APEX ammunition for use by the F-35 against a wide variety of targets. Australia and Norway are cooperating on the integration of the APEX ammunition on the F-35. I expect that the characteristics and capability of this ammunition, will attract even more user nations in the future.

And, NAMMO is also the sole provider of the rocket motors for the AMRAAM missile, used by both the US and the Australian Air Force.

A "runner up", PROX Dynamics, is developing a low-cost, easy-to-maintain, hand-held, nano-UAV, providing armed forces and law enforcement with increased  situational awareness.  Obviously, this system will also be invaluable for civilian use, such as search and rescue, construction, farming and other sectors.

Dear friends,

Every Norwegian who returns from a visit to Australia, eagerly describes how Australians are easy going, informal and direct, just like us. That might be the reason that so many Norwegians who have come to Australia over the years, never returned back home.

In short, Australia is a place where Norwegians feel at home - a home far away.

I encourage you to make use of this "comparative advantage", and of this seminar, to develop further our already well established and well working defence industry cooperation. I, and all my competent colleagues at the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, stand ready to facilitate further contact and cooperation between our two nations.

I wish you the best of luck with the seminar.

Thank you for your attention.