Norway has again warned NH Industries that the airframer must resolve Oslo's concerns over the performance and capability of its NH90 naval helicopters or face the cancellation of its order.

Erik Øwre Thorshaug, Norwegian deputy defence minister, insists the nation will continue to "hold [NH Industries] to account" as delays to the programme have left it without helicopters deployed on Royal Norwegian Navy frigates following the retirement of its ageing Westland Lynx fleet.

Norway has a commitment for a total of 14 NH90s dating from 2001. Deliveries should have been completed in 2008, but Oslo has so far received a solitary aircraft, with a second due to be handed over imminently.

 NH90 Norway - Norwegian defence ministry

Norwegian defence ministry

"We are focused on the product that's delivered," says Thorshaug. "They should have the capabilities that are in the contract and we will continue to be a customer that holds the [manufacturer] responsible to deliver what is agreed.

"We are focused that the NH90s we take delivery of should meet the operational standards we want."

Although its contract with NH Industries includes the possibility of financial penalties for the airframer should it fail to meet its targets, Thorshaug warns these should be the least of NH Industries' concerns. "If they fail to deliver, what is at stake is not fines or penalties but the whole contract. They need to deliver, and that has been communicated to NH Industries. We are talking about months in that respect."

Norway has already indicated a willingness to investigate alternatives to the NH90, with the Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk the most likely candidate.

NH Industries was unavailable to comment at the time of publication.

Source: Flight International