U.S. Budget Cuts Hit Norwegian Defense Sector

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From Gerard O’Dwyer, Defense News:  Norway’s rapidly globalizing defense industry is facing a worrying falloff in military exports, with the decline compounded by cuts in the U.S. defense budget, according to government statistics and defense industry leaders. . . .

The scaling-back of orders and production is already affecting several leading local defense groups, including Kongsberg and the Raufoss-based munitions supplier Nammo, which plans to lay off an initial 30 personnel this spring.

“The U.S. budget cuts are affecting us in the short term, and there is no guarantee that the number of planned layoffs will not rise above 30,” Nammo CEO Edgar Fossheim said. “Given that the U.S. is our most important market, we can’t ignore that our turnover in this market will fall this year.”

Nammo, which employs 2,000 worldwide, is forecasting a 20 percent drop in exports to the U.S. in 2013. This is expected to reduce the value of exports, in what is the company’s biggest customer market, by up to $44 million. . . .

Military weapons and support systems worth $10.4 billion were exported to the U.S. from 2001 to 2012, according to figures produced by Statistics Norway (SN), the state data collection organization.

However, Norwegian exports to the U.S. have been on the slide since 2009, when the value of weapons, munitions and other military materiel delivered to U.S. customers amounted to $291 million, 55 percent of Norway’s military gear exports that year.

By contrast, Norway’s exports of mainly niche weapon and munition systems to the U.S., such as Protector remote weapon stations, amounted to just $84 million in 2012.

SN’s figures show that the value of Norway’s global military equipment exports decreased by $17.1 million, or 4 percent, to $428 million in 2012. Weapon systems and parts accounted for $223 million, while other materials, including missiles and grenades, contributed $141 million.

Exports to the U.S. accounted for about 20 percent of total Norwegian military equipment exports in 2012, after hovering between 40 percent and 56 percent from 2004 to 2010. In 2011, the percentage was halved to a little more than 27 percent, and the decline continued in 2012.

Although Norwegian arms exports to the U.S., Germany and Sweden declined in 2012, new markets, including Brazil, Chile, Poland and Asia, were opening up more for Norwegian producers. Weapon exports to Chile amounted to $51.3 million in 2012, and to Poland, $42.8 million. (photo: Nammo)

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