Oslo terminates 20-year-old contract for NH-90 and now seeks reimbursement of 500 million euros
Norway, one of the founding members of NATO, is ending a contract for NH-90 military helicopters it signed in 2001, the country’s Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram announced on Friday during a meeting. of a press conference. The model, which was developed specifically to meet military alliance requirements, was deemed suboptimal by the Norwegian military, who cited multiple flaws and delays.
As the model “will never be able to meet the needs of the Norwegian Armed Forces,“Oslo is now demanding the reimbursement of the nearly 500 million euros it has paid so far. The operation of the helicopters, which had already been delivered to Norway, was halted with immediate effect on Friday. The machines will be returned to the manufacturer, the French multinational NHIndustries.
In the meantime, Oslo is looking for a replacement, who could come from the United States, German media Die Welt reported.
The report describes the Norwegian military’s final verdict on the NH-90 as “overwhelming” both for the model itself and for the company that produces it. Oslo made it clear, as the article noted, that no tinkering, spare parts, or additional investment was likely to make the helicopter worthwhile.
However, NHIndustries is apparently not going to accept the abrupt cancellation of the contract and may even sue Norway over its decision, which the company described as “legally unfounded.”
In its press release, the multinational states, among other things, that it “dismisses the charges against NH90 and the company,adding that Oslo did not give NHIndustries the opportunity to addressspecial Norwegian requirements.”
The manufacturer then insisted that 13 of the 14 helicopters ordered by Norway had been delivered, with the other ready for collection. However, according to the Norwegian army, only eight of these machines were fully operational.
For NHIndustries, of which Airbus has a majority stake, Norway’s decision represents a further blow, after Australia, another buyer of the NH-90, announced in December 2021 that it planned to switch to the Black Hawk from American made. Canberra explained at the time that the performance of the European helicopter was a “permanent problem,adding that the operating costs were also too high.
Die Welt claimed that Belgium is also currently considering replacing its NH-90s.
The German outlet noted that other users have also reported various issues with the NH-90. For example, the Netherlands reportedly complained about corrosion issues associated with the model.
According to a report written by the German military and cited by Die Welt, at the end of 2021, only 19% of NH-90s in service with the German armed forces were operational. The outlet claimed, citing a German military industry blog, that the country’s navy had recently refused to accept such a helicopter due to radar errors and a lingering smell of fuel in the cockpit.
With its maiden flight in 1995, the NH-90 is currently in service with more than a dozen countries, primarily in Europe.