Landmark agreement on combat uniform procurement deepens Nordic collaboration

HELSINKI — In a landmark defense-deepening collaboration, four Nordic states have launched a joint $500 million procurement program to acquire a common Nordic Combat Uniform system.

The combat uniform deal marks the first time that the armed forces of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway have united behind a joint procurement project. The NCU project is being led by Nordic Defence Cooperation, or NORDEFCO, the central pan-Nordic organization for military cooperation.

“At present, military organizations in each of the Nordic countries have their own combat uniform systems. In the future, there will be a common Nordic uniform and auxiliary equipment,” said Sanna Laaksonen, a special adviser to Finland’s Ministry of Defence.

Finland’s capital investment in the NCU is estimated to reach $70 million.

The NCU contract has been put out for tender in a competition that Nordic government officials expect will attract a high level of international interest.

A core benchmark in the contract is that the NCU meet a rigid extreme-climate standard, including an optimum level of performance for uniforms customized for Arctic and warm weather conditions.

NORDEFCO is aiming to have a new NCU fully tested and operational within the four Nordic armed forces during the second half of 2021.

The Nordic combat uniform acquisition project is being run by NORDEFCO under a technical arrangement agreed upon by the four Nordic states in connection with NORDEFCO’s Cooperation Armaments Working Group Nordic Combat Uniform project.

The NCU program gained transaction in 2016 when NORDEFCO established a project team comprised of senior defense procurement officials representing the four participating Nordic states.

Cost and value were primary factors driving collaboration in the NCU joint contract, according to Norwegian armed forces Maj. Ivar B. Selvig the head of the NCU project. Norway is the lead Nordic nation in the NCU program.

“Nordic militaries operate in more or less similar climatic conditions. Norway, Sweden and Finland have a greater need for Arctic clothing than Denmark might have, and some countries have special demands regarding the use of the uniforms in jungle conditions. But generally our needs are quite similar,” Selvig said.

The NCU tender covers all branches of the military and will supply all-service combat uniforms for male and female personnel.

The contract does not cover acquisition of uniforms with ballistic protection or specialist combat uniform systems. And the four nations are expected to retain their camouflage patterns.

“A joint Nordic acquisition provides us with several benefits. If we run this project well, we will get improved quality for the same price or even better quality at a cheaper price,” said Brig. Gen. Peter Kølby Pedersen, deputy director at the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization.

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