On 10 June 2022, the Norwegian Minister of Defence, Bjørn Arild Gram, officially announced that phasing in of the NH90 will be stopped and that all helicopters and related equipment will be returned to the supplier.
According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) the NH90 will definitely not be able to meet the needs of the Armed Forces. The Norwegian Defence Material Organisation (NDMA) has now sent a cancellation declaration to NHIndustries (NHI). Termination of the contract entails a full refund of the parties' benefits. The Norwegian authorities demand a return of approximately the NOK 5 billion (€490 million) that has been paid out, in addition to interest and other expenses.
The acquisition of NH90 has been ongoing since 2001. Fourteen maritime helicopters for use on coast guard vessels and frigates were scheduled to be delivered by 2008. As of today, only eight NH90s have been delivered in the final version. The helicopters that were to fly 3,900 hours a year have flown an average of 700 hours. In February 2022, the MoD commissioned the Armed Forces to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of maritime helicopter capacity together with the NDMA. The evaluation report states that even with large extra investments, it will not be possible to increase this to a level that meets the needs of the Armed Forces.
Due to the termination of the contract, the helicopters will be taken out of service immediately. In the short term, this means that the assignments that NH90 had set out to support are now being canceled. Personnel are followed up immediately through internal processes.
On 6 April 2021, Scramble Magazine reported on the lease of helicopters dedicated for the SAR, fishery and border protection role (Kystvakt) as the NH90 programme experienced multiple issues because of the slow progress of phasing in and building the operational capacity.
Norway will now look at other possibilities to cover the need for a maritime helicopter capacity. To be continued ...
Photo by Edwin Daalder (Scramble Archive)