Norway threatens to cancel NH90 helicopter order

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Norway is threatening to cancel its order for NH Industries NH90 helicopters, as its frustrations mount with delivery delays.

Oslo has eight of the NH90 maritime variant on order, configured for search and rescue operations for its coastguard. Deliveries were due to have been completed six years ago, but the nation has so far received just one of the type.

The new helicopters are intended to replace the Norwegian coastguard's ageing AgustaWestland Lynx fleet, which it began retiring in 2005. At present, it has just three operational helicopters, says the Norwegian defence ministry. These were all delivered in 1981, according to Flightglobal's HeliCAS database.

But with the remainder of the NH90s no closer to being delivered, Oslo is now drawing up contingency plans.

Speaking last month on a tour with the coastguard in northern Norway, secretary of state for defence Roger Ingebrigtsen said: "NH90 is greatly delayed and I am very concerned about this situation. We therefore have to consider what the options are to ensure the coastguard has the helicopter capacity we depend on."

The defence ministry adds: "If the manufacturer doesn't manage to deliver the helicopters [to deadline] we are considering cancelling the contract.

"We are a customer and we cannot wait forever to receive our merchandise."

The defence ministry would not be drawn on the deadline it has given to NH Industries to complete the order. However, it has begun looking at alternatives to the NH90, it says, without specifying the types under consideration. "There are several helicopters on the market that are combat-proven and in use by other nations," it notes.

NH Industries was unavailable to comment.