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Norway to significantly increase defense budget

By Ryan Maass
Norway to significantly increase defense budget
Norway's new defense budget doubles the funding for the F-35 Lightning II. Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin

OSLO, Norway, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government proposed a 9.8 percent increase for its defense budget in 2016, which includes more funding for F-35 procurement.

The $526 million increase would bring Norway's defense budget to about $6 billion, and would almost double the funding for Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II fighters. Lockheed Martin, a U.S.-based arms and aerospace manufacturer, began producing the fighters for Norway in August 2015. The F-35 procurement plan makes up the majority of the increase, which also covers strengthening the country's Intelligence Service as well as increasing High North patrols.

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The funding plan follows a Strategic Military Review by Norway's Chief of Defense, the office that serves the role of commander-in-chief of the armed forces in Norway. Additional funds are also allocated to the P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norwegian Minister of Defense, says the budget increase is a response to new security threats the government needs to take more seriously.

"A considerable strengthening of the Norwegian Armed Forces is required in order to ensure that we develop capabilities for the future that are both relevant and modern, and which improve our ability to deter the use of force against both Norway and the wider NATO-alliance," Søreide said in a statement.

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Norway's proposed increase to its defense budget comes as NATO officials announce intentions to bolster collective defenses. In a statement on Thursday, NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced a review of the Alliance's Readiness Action Plan in response to increased Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

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