Norway Likely to Join NATO's European Missile Defense System in 2018

By | Apr 17, 2017 03:41 AM EDT
Spying on Russia

Norwegian radar system on Vardøya Island off Russia. (Photo : Norwegian Army)

Norway will join the NATO Missile Defense System that better protects the alliance's member states from Russian ballistic missile attacks by 2018 at the earliest.

Media reports said the analysis group from the Norwegian Armed Forces and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency will likely advise the right-wing Norwegian government headed by Prime Minister Erna Solberg to commit Norway to joining the defense system.

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In 2015, Solberg confirmed Norway's readiness to contribute to the creation of NATO's European missile defense system.

"It is necessary for us to participate in this. As a committed NATO member, we should also be committed to that part of the strategy," she said at the time.

Russia fears the NATO Missile Defense System will undermine the capability of its strategic nuclear forces to launch a first strike against NATO with nuclear missiles.

Norway has no ballistic missile systems that can augment the US-led NATO missile defense system, but its radars and sensors located at Russia's western doorstep can be integrated into the missile shield.

Particularly valuable to NATO is Norway's Globus II/III radar system located on Vardøya Island near the Russian border, which is just a few kilometers from Murmansk, home port of Russia's strategic submarine fleet. The sea-based AEGIS systems on five frigates of the Royal Norwegian Navy will also form part of the NATO Missile Defense System.

Another Norwegian radar station located in Svalbard in the Arctic Circle can also be used by the U.S. military for missile defense purposes.

The NATO Missile Defense System includes radar systems and missile interceptors already deployed to Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the Czech Republic. The U.S. Navy has deployed four Aegis-capable Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers to Spain as part of the ballistic missile defense shield.

While its Norwegian Armed Forces consists of only some 17,000 active personnel, Norway is one of the world's top spenders on defense per capita. 

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