NH Industries (NHI) appears in no mood to accept Norway’s demand for a NKr5 billion ($488 million) refund following the axing of its contract for NH90 helicopters, with 41% shareholder Leonardo dismissing the Nordic nation’s claims as “legally groundless” in its latest financial statement.
Oslo in June said it was terminating the deal for 14 NH90s and handing back the 13 examples it had already received, due to what it claimed were repeated breaches of contract; deliveries were significantly behind schedule and fleet availability was poor, it alleged. Its helicopters have not flown since it announced the cancellation plan.
Besides seeking to return the NH90s, Norway is also demanding a refund of its payments, plus interest and other expenses, which it says amounts to NKr5 billion.
But detailing the dispute in its third-quarter financial report, Leonardo says Norway has no case.
“NHI considers this request for termination for default legally groundless and reasonably challengeable in any appropriate forum due to [a] lack of factual and legal basis, misinterpretation of the contract and the Norwegian law, as well as breach of confidentiality obligations,” Leonardo states.
Deliveries under the contract were due to be completed by the end of 2023, the Italian aerospace firm says.
The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) adds: “We recognise and understand the duties of Leonardo as a public company to inform its shareholders of the termination and its views on the same. NDMA has no further comment in this particular regard.”
Under the original contract schedule, all 14 maritime NH90s were due to be handed over by 2008, a date subsequently revised to 2022.
In June, the NDMA pointed out that although the final example was ready for acceptance, work to upgrade six NH90s to the final operating configuration would not be completed until 2024.
NHI is a three-way consortium that also includes Airbus Helicopters and GKN/Fokker.
Last week Sweden said it also planned to retire its NH90 fleet due to continued poor availability and the costs associated with upgrading its anti-submarine warfare-roled examples.