Norway and Polish firm Mesko have signed a 350 million Norwegian kroner ($35.6 million) contract to deliver man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to the Norwegian Army.

The agreement is part of Norway’s plans to integrate the latest, upgraded missiles into the armed forces. The Piorun MANPADS will cover the lowest elevation level with their fire-heat-seeking missiles.

The missile system specializes in aircraft, helicopter, and drone targets from ground level to an altitude of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet).

Signing of Mesko Piorun MANPADS contract. Photo: Norwegian Materiel Defence Agency

Norway has been negotiating with industry partners to acquire new MANPADS since 2021. The latest contract will deliver the air defense systems as early as 2023.

“This is the first time that Norway will operate this type of air defence system, and the Norwegian Armed Forces will therefore receive an important capability that they have previously not had in their inventory,” Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said.

“We received very good offers from several suppliers but decided that Piorun offers the best combination in terms of time, performance and cost,” Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency Air Systems Chief Brig. Gen. Jarle Nergård added.

Piorun MANPADS

The Piorun MANPAD is designed to defend against unmanned aerial vehicles, winged rockets, planes, and helicopters.

It is equipped with a proximity sensor-assisted fuse for precise detonation and features such as day sight, thermal vision sight, pursuit-collision mode, and target identification.

The Piorun is compatible with other thermal and optical imaging sights and related authorization systems.

The 19.5-kilogram (43-pound) missile has an average flight speed of 560 meters (1,837 feet) per second and a range of up to six kilometers (3.73 miles).

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“Piorun will supplement the Army’s new tactical air defences and the Air Force’s NASAMS and F-35 combat aircraft,” Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency director General Gro Jære explained.

“Along with other capabilities in the Norwegian Armed Forces, Piorun will serve as a deterrent to any future opponent who will now have to deal with a wide range of defensive systems. We therefore consider this an important addition to our overall capabilities.”