Government decides to upgrade C-130H transports and lease strategic airlift capability

The Norwegian government has opted against involvement in the Airbus Military A400M project until at least 2012, and will instead upgrade its fleet of six Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports and lease shared strategic airlift capability as required. Confirmed last week, the move effectively rules out any Norwegian industry participation in the 180-aircraft A400Mproject.

The transport aircraft decision is contained in a final transformation document for the 2005-8 period delivered to Norwegian chief of defence Gen Sigurd Frisvold by defence minister Kristin Krohn Devold on 14 September. Norway earlier this year released first details of the armed forces transformation process, which is intended to release more funds for operational and peacekeeping commitments (Flight International, 8-14 June).

Devold says Norway will wait until after the country's next four-year spending plan to measure the effectiveness of a German-led NATO strategic airlift initiative, which she says will be "much more cost-effective" than an equipment purchase. "If we had made a decision this year to buy a particular aircraft, it would have bound our hands on the financial side for years." A decision on a future tactical transport programme will now be made around 2012.

Devold has also urged NATO to examine the tactical transport aircraft requirements of its 26 partner nations, and backs the formation of a commonly funded airlift cell equipped with shared assets such as the A400M. "For smaller countries, the multinational-funded project will always be wiser," she says.

Air force sources indicate an extensive upgrade programme will be required to extend operations of the service's C-130Hs beyond 2006, with the aircraft expected to need modifications, including a wing replacement. Such work could extend the type's service life until around 2018, they say. The Norwegian air force is also still interested in leasing one or two tanker/transport aircraft.



Source: Flight International