NATO-member Norway terminated a 20-year contract for 14 helicopters with a French defense company, citing delays, errors, and excessive maintenance woes, Reuters reports.
Norway decided to return the NHIndustries NH90 helicopters and demand a full refund it paid for the fleet, costing nearly 5 billion kroner ($525 million), according to Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.
“Regrettably, we have reached the conclusion that no matter how many hours our technicians work, and how many parts we order, it will never make the NH90 capable of meeting the requirements of the Norwegian Armed Forces.
“Based on a joint recommendation by the Armed Forces and associated departments and agencies, the Norwegian Government has therefore decided to end the introduction of the NH90 and has authorized the Norwegian Defence Material Agency to terminate the contract,” Arild Gram said.
The multi-role military helicopters were developed in the mid-1990s by NHIndustries, a partnership between European companies Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters, and Fokker Technologies based in Aix-en-Provence, France. Norway ordered the helicopters for the coast guard and anti-submarine missions in 2001 and expected all 14 to be delivered by 2008. So far, only eight have been delivered and ready to operate.
The Norwegian Defence Material Agency said it has “made repeated attempts at resolving the problems related to the NH90 in cooperation with NHI, but more than 20 years after the contract was signed, we still don’t have helicopters capable of performing the missions for which they were bought, and without NHI being able to present us with any realistic solutions.”
NHIndustries responded in a statement to Norway’s request for a refund and “considers this termination to be legally groundless,” adding it “is extremely disappointed by the decision taken by the Norwegian Ministry of Defense and refutes the allegations being made against the NH90 as well as against the Company.”
It’s great to know that a NATO member has helicopters that don’t work as the Ukrainian conflict heightens the risk of war between Russia and the West.