Germany and Norway officially launched a new long-term naval defense material cooperation agreement for new submarines and naval missiles on Aug. 22 during a visit by the Norwegian Defense Minister to her counterpart in Germany.

In February, the Norwegian government chose Germany as a strategic partner with which to procure new submarines and later additional weapons and platforms. The agreement was finalized by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and the meeting the week of Aug. 20 started the formal process.

Norwegian Minister of Defense Ine Eriksen Søreide met Ursula von der Leyen, the German Minister of Defense, at Eckernföerde naval base in Germany to celebrate the beginning of the pact. Eckernföerde is home to Germany’s first submarine squadron, a naval battalion, and that country’s naval special forces.

The partnership includes the procurement of identical submarines for both countries as well as providing “significant synergies and savings throughout the service life of the submarines,” Søreide said in a statement.

The new submarines will be based on a common basic pattern, the Germany 212A-class. “”Norway is an absolute partner for us. We will jointly develop, procure and share submarines,” von der Leyen said in a statement.

The agreement also includes cooperation on training, exercises, spare parts, maintenance, lifetime-management of the new submarines, and industrial cooperation between the countries.

Søreide said she was pleased the countries agreed on the strategic cooperation. “This agreement is the start of a long-lasting cooperation on new submarines, naval missiles and other defense systems,” she said.

“In addition to cooperation on new submarines and naval missiles, we will strengthen our navy-to-navy cooperation,” Søreide added. “We will also cooperate on naval research and technological development.”

Under the agreement, Norway’s Kongsberg, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (tkMS), and Germany’s Atlas Elektronik established a joint venture to develop combat management systems for the new submarines. This system may also be employed on other ships and platforms, the Norwegian Defense Ministry said.

The agreement will also have Norway and Germany cooperate on the development and procurement of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The NSM is currently in service with the Norwegian navy and Germany is planning a “significant acquisition” of the missiles for its navy.

Søreide highlighted the submarine and NSM cooperation “provides great opportunities for the defence industry in both countries.”

The NSM was developed jointly by Kongsberg and Raytheon [RTN] as a long-range missile that can hit enemy targets up to 100 miles away. It flies at a very low altitude over the water or other terrain, performs evasive maneuvers to counter defensive systems, and uses a programmable fuze warhead.

Raytheon and Kongsberg are offering the NSM as an offensive capability for the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and future frigate over-the-horizon (OTH) missile requirement. Other major competitors Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] withdrew from that competition in May.

Germany and Norway have already started a joint process with tkMS as submarine provider and a common request for quotation was issued to the shipyard in July.

The overall German-Norwegian cooperation plan aims to award the contract for new submarines in 2019. Søreide said the project is on schedule to meet that timeline.