Norway bulks up on German subs after 'unpredictable' Russia stalks the border
Norway has chosen Germany's Thyssenkrupp (TKMS) to deliver four submarines to its navy, its defence minister said Friday, amid concerns over Russia's military activities in the far north.
The Nato member state aims to buy the submarines under a joint order with Germany, Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide told reporters in Oslo, without specifying the estimated amount of the contract expected to be signed in 2019.
"Cooperation and joint purchasing with Germany are the best choices," she said.
Designed on the basis of a 212 model already in use in Germany and Italy, the four new submarines will replace six German-built "Ula class" units, which entered service between 1989 and 1992.
The Norwegian fleet is to receive them in the second half of the next decade.
The announcement comes amid rising worries in Norway over what it has called "increasingly unpredictable" behaviour by Russia in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis.
Russia has carried out a growing number of military exercises, as well as military plane and ship movements, near Norway's High North in recent years.
Norway, which is not an EU member state, shares a nearly 200-kilometre (125-mile) border with Russia in the Arctic region.
The Scandinavian country on Wednesday summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge a formal protest after Moscow refused visas to two senior lawmakers in a move Oslo denounced as "unjustifiable".
Russia said the visa refusal was a reaction to Norway's participation in EU economic sanctions against it over the Ukraine crisis.
Oslo is currently engaged in what it calls "historic" defence efforts to dissuade any attempts at destabilising its security.
The government announced in June it would grant an additional 165 billion kroner (1$18.7 billion) to its armed forces over 20 years.
As part of that, the Norwegian Armed Forces are to replace ageing F-16 jets with up to 52 F-35 fighters, buy five maritime surveillance aircraft and renew its submarine fleet.
France's DCNS had also been in the running for the submarine delivery.