Nordic countries to share warplanes

Pooling of military resources seen as a way to cut costs while maintaining operational capabilities

November 8th, 2012 11:19 am| by admin

Following an agreement between Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, which was signed by the defence minister, Nick Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), the five countries will in the future operate a joint fleet of military transport planes. However, there are no concrete plans at present to do the same with fighter jets.

Norway and Denmark both have four C-130 Hercules transport planes while Sweden has eight. Finland will contribute its three smaller transport planes, the EADS CASA C-295, to the joint fleet. Iceland does not own any military transport planes, but has promised to contribute funds to purchasing more jointly-owned aircraft.

“The best solution would be to pool our resources so that we can access each other’s planes,” Hækkerup told Jyllands-Posten. “Some planes are always unavailable, either due to servicing or repairs. This is an opportunity for a Nordic co-operation for the operative use of planes, maintenance, education and training exercises.”

The Nordic countries also agreed to the possibility of sharing the costs of field rations, batteries, ammunition for hand weapons, as well as sharing the responsibilities for radar surveillance and tug boats.

Across Europe there is a move towards cutting military spending, and pooling resources is considered an efficient way of reducing costs while minimising operational capabilities.

For example, Denmark and Sweden independently carry out radar surveillance of the Baltic Sea. However, Denmark’s facility on the island of Bornholm will need replacing in the coming years, so it makes sense to just share Sweden’s newer radar facility, which covers the same area.

Lars Bangert Struwe, from the Centre for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen, claims that while the increased co-operation could bring savings, it could also result in conflict.

“It’s simple when you’re just dealing with things like ammunition, where you can get discounts for buying in bulk, but it quickly gets more complicated when you’re looking at sharing a radar facility in Sweden,” Struwe told Jyllands-Posten.

“What would happen if we fell out with Sweden? Or if a conflict arises that NATO is involved in, but Sweden has decided to stay out of it, and we rely upon them for surveillance?”

Struwe added that countries risk losing their sovereignty as they increase their co-operation. But according to General Major Flemming Lefner from the Danish military command, Forsvarskommandoen, who is also the chair of the Nordic committee on military co-operation, Nordefco, it is a necessary risk.

“Giving up sovereignty is the price you pay for ‘smart defence’,” Lefner told Jyllands-Posten. “It is clear that there will be some challenges due to our sovereign borders. But by pooling our capacities in surveillance, for example, it ensures that we have the necessary capacities when we need them.”

In September, Denmark signed another deal with the United Kingdom in which it agreed to increase co-operation regarding training exercises, education, logistics, transport, international operations and intelligence gathering.

The military is currently attempting to find ways to cut 2.7 billion kroner from its annual budget.

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