SoldierMod.Com :: Soldier Modernisation
  SoldierMod Volume 10 - Jan 2013
Volume 10 Articles

Country flagWays and Means

Norway’s NORMANS programme is delivering a successful solution while other and better funded militaries have struggled. Why?

PDF icon Download article as PDF
The Thales-Teleplan NORMANS Light demonstrator. Photo: © AJB.
The Thales-Teleplan NORMANS Light demonstrator. Photo: © AJB.

Despite a modest defence budget and limited funds for research, Norway has been very successful in soldier modernisation with the NORMANS (NORwegian Modular Arctic Network Soldier) programme and has remained at the cutting edge of delivering practical solutions; blending off-the shelf acquisition with specific focused developments - originally begun in research organisations - for Norwegian requirements with many taking great interest in their output.

The Norwegian acquisition process uses a standard and very familiar project model, comprising concept, definition and an acquisition phase. The Norwegian structure sees portfolios established that are based on functional areas; land, naval, air and special forces and soldier systems.

Captain Vidar Engmo, Procurement Officer Network Based Defence with responsibility for soldier modernisation projects explained, “Within those project areas you have several different projects. Each project is buying a modular part of the soldier system. So you have to try to put the different components within the holistic approach. You have different project lines and you need to co-ordinate and synchronise between the different projects if you want to deliver a holistic soldier system.”

“We are a pretty small organisation and that can be both positive and negative. In many of the fields of expertise we are only one man deep. We also have some issues regarding stability in the organisation because of reorganisation. It takes time to set yourself into the life of the organisation and to be ready to make sure that the projects have progressed.”

There is currently no integration office for soldier modernisation in Norway, something that Capt. Engmo said would be valued as no single person has responsibility for that. However, the small size of the Norwegian organisation in this respect helps integration. Capt. Engmo for example, heads up five soldier projects and so naturally acquires one with the other four closely in mind. The small size of the organisation - around twenty people in the acquisition organisation for soldier systems also allows rapid consultation. That is not to say a more structured approach isn’t being produced.

Work is still going on to address improved integration in the future. Capt. Engmo said, “We have started work on a document where we would like to describe the strategies and to make a roadmap and to make it easier for new people coming into the acquisition organisation to adapt and know where you want to go.” Version 1.0 of this document is scheduled to be released in 2012.

Industry support

Industry support is key to any endeavour such as this but this involvement has to be balanced as Capt. Engmo explained, “You can have more than one industry partner and Defence works as the integrator. Of course, that demands more manpower from Defence because you have to have more control to get the product that you want because you are the integrator. You can have one industry partner and they can be the integrator but you still need to have some sort of control.”

Typical issues with partnering with industry is how many resources are demanded. Capt. Engmo said, “For us it is very important to find a way to collaborate with industry which doesn’t pull too many resources from our point of view. In that case, we need to find out the degrees of control that are needed and that basically is something that has to do with trust and how much you trust industry. If the trust is high you can let go of some of the control and if the structure is low then you have to have control. You can also have conflicting ambitions and expectation so this is very important. You have to have a good contract and to have good connection with industry. I feel that we have that in NORMANS and that is strategy for success..

“Also, when you have lot of legacy systems you can meet problems with industry partners that are in a competitive mode so it can be hard to get the interfaces or the protocol or the right information across from one industry partner to another without a lot of hassle or at least a lot of time.”


Norway’s NORMANS programme with the highlight in overseas interest being its C4I component is highly successful but required several years development, testing and revision before the issues were resolved.

In 2002 NORMANS Version 0.1 which incorporated high level was tested which was found to be lacking in stability with a process that also established that user involvement was key to progress. This was followed by involvement in Exercise Battle Griffin in Northern Norway in 2005 in which the subsequent prototype showed greater stability. NORMANS Light and NORMANS Advanced were established by 2009 which represents Version 1.0.

Capt. Engmo continued, “After that we had a NORMANS version 2.0 in 2011 which was used in Bold Quest exercise in the US in 2011 which tested different levels of communications. You had Blue Force Tracking (BFT) all the way from the soldier to the vehicles to the Battalion HQ. You also used a Combat ID server functioning in the theatre and so you were able to use the BFT with aircraft when you had close air support.”

The answer, underlying all the decision made has been a desire for modularity in the design, “In the beginning, we had a rough idea on what the concept might be and what we wanted to test out and we gathered in some knowledge of other nations’ investment programmes and soldier modernisation programmes. We were already at the early stages, looking at modularity. This was important because we didn’t have a ‘Big Bang’. We have lot of components and lots of projects that didn’t deliver at the same time. Since they are delivering at different times you have to have a concept of modularity where the standardisation of the interface between different component are set.”

“We [now] would also like to have tool box the tailoring of the equipment packages for use in specific operations or in a specific threat level like in Afghanistan. Some forces might have a need for mobility so they go for light armoured vehicles and they go for a light body armour.”

The NORMANS solution is now close to being finalised with the industry parts of Thales and Teleplan having been chosen, work continues as Capt. Engmo explained, “There are some issues which have to be worked out that is developing the power supply and which level of security we need and we known the level we want but hopefully the contract will be [signed] shortly, early next year.”

Delivery will be split into three batches, the first at the end of 2013 with subsequent batches following in one year intervals.

“We have issues regarding how much manpower you need in the battalion because when you introduce crypto systems at this kind of level, managing crypto keys is not very easy. You now suddenly have crypto keys at the team level and you might have different keys for the platoon and the network radio. You may have four different networks with different keys for all of them. We are now starting to look upon this and it is not easy. We have three different manoeuvre battalions and one battalion has six people [tasked crypto related work] and they can barely mange with the BMS and the two others have two and three person at the S6 level and that is not enough to manage the load of BMS systems or radio systems at those levels.”

For the future, contained within research package 4003 the focus for NORMAN is on additional sensors. integration with simulation and training and the addition of specialised functionality.

Capt. Engmo was speaking at WBR's Soldier Technology 2012.

Upcoming Events
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict
Other publications by Intercomms: