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The M109A3GN Programme
The first M109s to enter service in Norway were 126 M109Gs (German version of the American M109 howitzer) bought from Germany and delivered throughout 1969. Norway then performed modifications in the late 80's, giving birth to the M109A3GN. Most of these were assigned as mobilization reserve and went to several mobilization storage facilities. The guns remained in their configuration until the 1990s, which saw a few minor improvements.
With the end of the Cold War, mobilization storages lost their importance, and the amount of M109 howitzers were drastically reduced to 56.
At the beginning of the 21st century, it was clear[to whom?] something had to be done about the artillery force. Although most of the old towed artillery pieces had been retired, the backbone was still the 40-year-old M109A3.
Chance presented itself in 2002, when the Dutch admitted they had bought too many of the new PzH 2000, and offered to give 18 of them to Norway in exchange for an excess unit of NASAMS. The Norwegians agreed to the exchange and signed an agreement on June 23, 2003. But as the Norwegians started calculating, they discovered the budget did not allow a force of 18 Pzh-2000 to enter service, as each gun would cost the government 50 mill NOK (8,3 mill USD). Instead, the government decided to use 40 mill NOK (6,6 mill USD) to upgrade 14 of the 56 guns in storage to modern standards. The upgrade is scheduled to be completed in the end of 2007.[dated info]
The upgrade includes a new intercom and, most importantly, new navigation and positioning equipment. This will enable the gun to automatically adjust elevation and azimuth, making the old panoramic telescope system obsolete and fusing the gunner and assistant gunner positions into one. The new designation is M109A3GNM.
The future for the other 42 guns is uncertain. In December 2008, the Army ordered 24 guns of the new ARCHER Artillery System, jointly developed with Sweden. The ARCHER deal was called off by the Solberg Cabinet in December 2013, due to delays in delivering the systems. The Norwegian minister of defence, Ine Eriksen Søreide, stated that the present artillery system could be kept in service until 2020, and that no decision had been made as to what was to be procured as a replacement.
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