OSLO (Reuters) - Norway plans to order five Boeing Co P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes to maintain its surveillance capacity and meet future security challenges, the NATO country's Defence Ministry said.
Following an agreement in Norway's parliament to boost long-term military spending, the 9.83 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.15 billion) purchase will likely face only minor political opposition.
Norway's long maritime border with neighboring Russia has become a renewed focus for the country's military planners following the Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region. Norway's territorial waters also stretch far into the Arctic.
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Neighboring Sweden and Finland, which are not in the NATO alliance, have also expressed concerns about incursions by Russian submarines and other naval vessels.
"The new security situation increases our demand for situational awareness in our own vicinity. The ability to handle current and future challenges must therefore be strengthened," Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said.
"The introduction of the Poseidon aircraft is crucial for Norway to maintain a leading position and expertise on strategic conditions in northern areas," she said in the statement released late on Friday. The statement did not specifically mention Russia.
The submarine-hunting patrol planes will replace Norway's current fleet of six P-3 Orion and three DA-20 Jet Falcon aircraft and are expected to be delivered in 2021 and 2022. Norway will also buy related intelligence equipment, the ministry said.
(Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Alison Williams)