Norway cancels its contract for 14 European NH90 helicopters

Norwegian Armed Forces

Norway canceled a contract for 14 NH90 military transport helicopters from the European industrial consortium NHIndustries over delivery delays and availability problems. 

The NH90 is a twin-engine military transport helicopter resulting from a partnership between France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. NHIndustries regroups Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters Division, and Fokker Technologies.

The Norwegian order was placed in November 2001 and included six NH90s in anti-submarine warfare configuration for the Navy and eight NH90s for the Coast Guard.

But, more than 20 years later, the country has only received eight fully operational aircraft. The helicopters were expected to fly 3,900 hours a year, but have only flown an average of 700 hours, according to the Norwegian Defense Ministry. 

Thus, on June 10, 2022, the Norwegian government said it would break the contract and seek reimbursement of 5 billion Norwegian kroner (around €500 million). 

“It is a serious decision, but no matter how many hours our personnel works, and no matter how many parts we order, NH90 will not be able to meet the needs of the [Norwegian] Armed Forces,” Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram explained in a statement. “Based on an agreed recommendation from the defense sector, the government has decided to end the phasing in of NH90, and given Defense Materiel [the Norwegian defense procurement agency – ed. note] the task of terminating the contract with the supplier.” 

The Norwegian Ministry of Defense will now launch a tender to find a replacement maritime helicopter. 

This is yet another setback for NHIndustries and its NH90. In December 2021, Australia announced it planned to procure around 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to replace the Army’s fleet of 41 NH Industries NH90, known as the MRH90 Taipan, over poor availability rates and a high maintenance cost. The Australian Navy also requested to phase out its six navalized MRH90s in favor of 12 Sikorsky MH-60R ‘Sea Hawk’ helicopters. 


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