Political wrangling over whether a single helicopter type can fulfil the requirements of the Nordic Standard Helicopter Programme (NSHP) is threatening to de-rail the entire selection process. Industry sources at Paris say a ‘tug of war' between politicians determined to choose a single machine and military leaders who want simply the best mission-specific aircraft is central to the problem.

If political pressure prevails, the biggest beneficiary is almost certain to be NH Industries with its NH90 because it is the only aircraft capable of meeting the needs of all four partner nations closely enough to be viable under current specifications. But how Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden will proceed is far from clear. There is disaffection among the other three nations at Norway¹s perceived role as the ‘driver' of the programme. It is the only country with a specific need for a shipboard helicopter - effectively ruling out both the Sikorsky S-92 and the EH Industries EH101, which are too large for its new frigates.

Finland is firmly in the NH90 camp thanks to EADS' offer to take a 30% stake in local manufacturer Patria. Denmark is unlikely to be manoeuvred into early selection of the NH90, which it considers too small to replace its ageing Sikorsky S-61s. No decision is expected until later this year, with sources suggesting a straight choice between selection of the NH90 or abandonment of the programme in favour of single country selection.

Source: Flight Daily News