Missile hits target in test launch near border to Russia
Numerous missile launches have been simulated and conducted on computer screens. But last week marked the first ever real test firing of a FGM-148 Javelin in the Sør-Varanger Garrison, the Norwegian forces guarding the border to Russia.
The US-made weapon that can eliminate tanks and armored vehicles at distances up to 2,500 meter successfully hit its target at one of the local shooting ranges.
“It is a very important day for the Sør-Varanger Garrison and for the Finnmark Land Defense,” says garrison leader Jan Marius Nilsen. “For the first time in our history, we deliver and shoot with a so-called Javelin weapon system here in our own shooting range.”
Nilsen heads a force that over the last few years has seen a significant strengthening of manpower and armament. In 2018, a new and highly mobile ranger company was established as part of the garrison structure. By year 2025, the company will be fully operational with about 200 soldiers armed with light anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons. Their main mission is to delay the potential advance of an aggressive violator of Norwegian sovereignty.
From before, military forces at the Garrison of Sør-Varanger guard Norway’s 198 kilometers long border to Russia in the north.
The buildup of forces and deployment of new weaponry is part of Norway’s development of the new Finnmark Land Defense. The incorporation the Javelin missile system enables the forces to fight enemy armored vehicles.
“It is a system that belongs to the category anti-tank weapons and has as its key purpose to eliminate armored targets and vehicles,” Nilsen explains.
“This is very important for us here at the Garrison, and it is fully in line with national political priority to build up military presence in Finnmark, which means more personnel, more fire power, and not the least a united command structure with the Finnmark Land Defense,” he adds.
The local defense leader is confident that the missile launch will not be an issue of irritation among nearby Russian forces. “This is normal training,” he underlines.
Test firing of this kind of weapons is not subjected to any cross-border warning procedure.
Relations in the Norwegian-Russian borderlands have over the last years become increasingly tense as major investments have been made in military buildup. The Kola Peninsula houses a lion’s share of the Russian fleet of nuclear submarines and is among the country’s strategically most important areas. Russian forces have stepped up training both along the Nordic land border and in the Barents Sea.
The situation on the Russian side of the border is of paramount importance for the Norwegian military developments.
According to Jan Marius Nilsen, the buildup of the Finnmark Land Defense is rooted in clear political priorities.
“The current national security situation is challenged by growing unpredictability and concern,” he says. “Russia is part of this picture, but there is also a totality which is about pressure against the international order,” he adds.
By year 2025, the Finnmark Land Defense will be fully developed.
“We are now in the starting phase and in the period towards 2025 we will gradually, step-by-step be added more personnel and more capacities. We will be a sharper and more potent force in the future.”