11:34 GMT +317 November 2019
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    Situation Norway, All Trucked-Up: Oslo Attempts to Justify Army Vehicle Spending

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    Once in a while we all buy stuff we don't actually need. The Norwegian Armed Forces have recently landed in hot water after trying to cover up the unfortunate procurement of tow trucks, which later proved useless. This extravagance seems particularly blatant amid an ongoing campaign to cut expenses.

    In 2008, the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization (FLO) concluded a contract for the purchase of 25 Holder C4.74 tow trucks and four larger Fresia SP300 trucks, spending a total of 37.2 million NOK ($4.5mln). The trucks were intended for towing combat aircraft and helicopters, but were later found unsuitable for the purpose and are mainly being used for the transportation of luggage and smaller equipment.

    Despite torrential criticism from Norwegian airbases, which proved unable to use the trucks for towing F16 aircraft, FLO and the Ministry of Defense considered the purchase a success, the Norwegian daily Klassekampen reported.

    Despite a storm of appeals, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense concluded that the purchase had been a wise investment, registering "no negative experience" in 2011, and deliberately omitting "field criticism" from end users. According to a defense report, all Norwegian air bases reportedly had "sufficient and satisfactory towing materiel for all types of aircraft in times of peace, crisis and war."

    Conservatives Defense Policy Spokesperson and former EU minister Elisabeth Aspaker, however, reacted strongly to the Armed Forces' unlucky purchase.

    "This procurement is a horror story where we end up having to buy new materiel in order to carry out a task they [the trucks] were originally supposed to carry out," Elisabeth Aspaker told Klassekampen.

    Aspaker argued that both buyers and suppliers had an ultimate responsibility to deliver the right product to fulfill the needs of the Norwegian Defense, calling the "truck story" a "textbook example" of system errors, with no one being able to pull the emergency brake.

    "Now we're going into a protracted period of both large and small purchases. It is therefore important that the money is used in the right way and hits the jackpot. Public funds should not be misused as in this case," Aspaker argued.

    Meanwhile, galloping arms prices threaten to undermine Norway's ambition to save a staggering 33 billion NOK ($4bln) over a 20-year-period. For instance, the last time Norway procured warships, they cost 366 million NOK apiece ($45mln). Today, the ones the Norwegian Navy sails cost 5.6 billion ($680mln), the Norwegian daily Aftenposten reported.

    "If the trend in arms prices we have seen continues, the next time we buy new warplanes or warships it is fully reasonable to assume that the exact number of aircraft and vessels procured will amount to zero," Commander Per Rostad wrote in an opinion piece in Aftenposten.

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