Air Defense: The Norwegian Wonder Gets A Touch-Up


February 9, 2013: Norway is spending $50 million to upgrade its six NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) batteries. This upgrade will take three years to complete and includes new electronics and software to increase performance and extend the life of the hardware. A NASAMS battery consists of 12 launcher vehicles (each carrying six missiles), eight radar vehicles, one fire control center, and one tactical control vehicle.

Two years ago another $67 million was spent to upgrade its NASAMS. That upgrade included a self-propelled (rather than towed) launcher vehicle and upgrades to the fire control system and radars. NASAMS also went through an upgrade in 2007, creating NASAMS 2.

 Norway developed NASAMS in the early 1990s and deployed the first missiles and radars in 1995. NASAMS uses the American AMRAMM radar guided air-to-air missiles but fired from a six missile container instead of an aircraft. This ground based AMRAAM weighs 159 kg (350 pounds), has a range of 30 kilometers (it's radar can see out 50-70 kilometers), and can hit targets as high as 21 kilometers (65,000 feet).

What makes AMRAMM so effective as a SAM (surface-to-air missile) is the capabilities of its guidance system (which is about two thirds of the $400,000 missile's cost). Testing also revealed that AMRAAM could be used to shoot down cruise missiles. Norway believed that the AMRAAM (also combat proven) used by NASAMS was a good long term choice for air defense because the United States is constantly updating the missile.

Norway pioneered the use of AMRAAM as a surface-to-air missile and other systems have been developed using AMRAAM. But the Norwegian version is seen as the best of the lot. Spain, Holland, Finland, Chile, and the United States also use NASAMS.




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