The 41st Field Artillery Brigade of the U.S. Army concluded the field artillery exercises Fires Shock, as a part of Exercise Thunderbolt with the Norwegian Army. Exercise Thunderbolt, a joint multinational exercise that included Norwegian Army Brigade North, US Army 41st Field Artillery Brigade and U.S. Marines from 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company. For the 41st Field Artillery Brigade this was the fifth and final live fire in the Fires Shock series – exercises conducted from the Arctic to North Africa. The fire exercise included the Norwegian K9 weapon and US Army’s Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
The K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer were delivered to the Norwegian Army in 2020, and included the Integrated Combat Solution (ICS) and Odin Fire Support System (Odin FSS) from KONGSBERG. Norway has selected the K9 Thunder in its bid to replace the M109A3GNM SPHs that have been in service since the 1960s. 24 K9 and 6 K10 have been purchased, with an option for another 24 K9 and additional K10. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2019. ICS and Odin FSS together provides the digital backbone in the K9 ensuring fast and secure execution of firemissions.
Odin FSS is a ASCA compliant system which significantly improves the operational capabilities of any artillery weapon system. ASCA provides a fully digital sensor to shooter connection between allied nations, speeding up the process of firemissions, securely delivers target data and thus prevents fratricide. Odin FSS can utilize any IP based communication solution, which is designed especially for use of tactical low-band radios with a communication solution, tailor made for challenging terrain and extreme conditions such as the Arctic.
The first exercise was held in Estonia when the 41st FAB participated in Swift Response (May 1–7), then they joined artillery units from 13 Allies and Partners for live fires in Germany and Poland (May 2–24) as part of Dynamic Front 21, then conduct fires missions in Bulgaria as part of Saber Guardian 21 (June 2), next they will fire for the first time in Africa during exercise African Lion in Morocco (June 9), and finally they will participate in exercise Thunderbolt in Norway (June 1 – 14). This was the first time, in over a quarter century that the U.S. Army conducted a MLRS live fire in Norway. Arctic artillery training is important to increase NATO Allies’ ability to operate in extreme cold-weather, mountainous and high latitude environments.