Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Denmark, France and the Netherlands have become the first nations to receive shipments of new anti-tank weapons under a NATO multinational sharing project that is expected to reduce defense expenses.
The program, called Land Battle Decisive Munition, involves 16 allies and three NATO partners as a way to strengthen NATO's collective defense, NATO said in a news release.
The munitions were delivered through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency six months after defense ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the NATO Summit in Brussels in July.
In the program, allies acquire land munitions, including mortars, artillery shells, rockets and missiles. The United States will produce the weapons and deliver them to the nations that signed up for the program.
"This initiative seeks to address a problem that NATO first encountered during the Libya Operation: when some allies ran out of their stockpiles of munitions, they found it incredibly difficult to use those of other air forces," NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said last August in a NATO release. "We realized that we needed a new, flexible approach to the provision of air-to-ground precision-guided munitions."
Gottemoeller said the program will "help to reduce costs, enabling our rising defense budgets to go even further."
In another cost-saving plan, the agreement calls for common storage and warehousing solutions.
The 16 NATO members that have joined this effort also include Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. NATO partners are Austria, Finland and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There are 13 other NATO allies, some of whom have shown an interest in joining the program, NATO said in a news release.