WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Though it falls short of NATO’s required defense expenditure of two percent of gross domestic product, Norway does meet the requirement to invest 20 percent of its total defense budget on equipment procurement. The current Norwegian government has authorized the purchase of 22 F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft, including the nuclear capable F-35A.
“My government will continue to invest in security. This is the third consecutive year that we have increased the defense budget and we will continue to do so,” Erna said on Friday.
In light of the growing NATO concerns over Russia, Norway has been increasing its intelligence capabilities, along with commissioning new submarines and maritime patrol aircraft.
“We don’t believe they [Russians] are a threat to us directly,” Erna asserted. “But what we know is if something happens in the world, [the North Atlantic] is a strategically important area.”
Much of Russia’s sea-based nuclear deterrent is located in the high north close to the border with Norway. Both countries maintain active intelligence and situational awareness in the region, to improve predictability.