Exasperated, Norway cancels its contract for 14 European NH90 helicopters

Despite an order placed more than twenty years ago, Oslo stressed that it had received only eight fully operational copies of the aircraft built by this consortium of Airbus Helicopters, the Italian Leonardo and the Dutch Fokker.

The Norwegian government will return the 13 helicopters delivered in total and is also claiming reimbursement of 5 billion crowns (about 500 million euros), he announced at a press conference.

“Unfortunately, we have come to the conclusion that no matter how many hours our technicians work and how many spare parts are ordered, this will not make the NH90 capable of meeting the needs of the Norwegian military,” said Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.

His ministry will “quickly” begin a process to identify an alternative model, the government said in a statement.

This cancellation is a new setback for the NH90, of which the Belgian Defense has several copies, after the early retirement of the model in the Australian army, announced last December, in favor of the “Black Hawk” of the American Sikorsky.

In addition to delivery delays – the order initially provided for a delivery of 14 copies in 2008 – the Norwegian army denounced problems of reliability, maintenance and obsolescence of parts.

The Norwegian army hoped for an annual flight time of 3,900 hours, but in reality this is capped at 700, according to the ministry.

The Norwegian NH90s were intended for coastguard and underwater warfare missions.

“Without legal basis”

The Norwegian government’s decision to cancel a contract for NH90 helicopters is “without legal basis”, said Friday the European consortium NH Industries (NHI), which manufactures these military transport vehicles.

NHI said in a statement that it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision announced earlier by the Norwegian government which, citing delivery delays and availability issues, wants to return 13 delivered aircraft and is seeking reimbursement of 5 billion Norwegian kroner ( around 500 million euros).

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