Oslo is terminating a deal for the NH-90 dating back 20 years and now demands that €500 million be reimbursed
Norway, one of the founding NATO members, is terminating a contract for NH-90 military helicopters it signed back in 2001, the country’s Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram announced at a press conference on Friday. The model, which was developed specifically to meet the military alliance’s requirements, has been deemed suboptimal by the Norwegian military, which cited multiple defects and delays.
As the model “The Norwegian Armed Forces will not be able to meet their requirements.” Oslo is now demanding that the nearly €500 million it has paid so far be reimbursed. On Friday, the operation of the helicopters was stopped immediately. They had been shipped to Norway already. The machines will be returned the manufacturer, NHIndustries, a multinational French company.
In the meantime, Oslo is reportedly looking for a replacement, which could come from the US, Germany’s Die Welt outlet indicated.
The report described the Norwegian military’s final verdict on the NH-90 as “damning” for both the model itself and the company that produces it. Oslo stated, in the article, that the helicopter was not worth the extra work, spare parts, or investments.
However, NHIndustries is apparently not going to take the abrupt contract cancellation in stride and could reportedly even take Norway to court over its decision, which the company described as “Legally, it is unfounded.”
In its statement, the multinational said, among other things, that it “The company rejects all accusations of NH90.” adding that Oslo had not given NHIndustries the opportunity to address “special Norwegian requirements.”
According to the manufacturer, 13 of 14 Norwegian helicopters had already been delivered and the remaining one was ready for collection. The Norwegian military claimed that only eight machines had been fully operational.
For NHIndustries, in which Airbus holds a controlling interest, Norway’s decision represents a new blow, after Australia, another buyer of the NH-90, announced in December 2021 that it was planning to switch to the US-made Black Hawk down the road. Canberra explained at the time that the performance of the European helicopter was a “constant problem,” adding that the operating costs were too high as well.
Die Welt reported that Belgium is also considering replacing its NH90s.
German outlets noted that other users also had reported issues with the NH-90. One example is the Netherlands complaining about the corrosion problems.
The German military released a report that was cited by Die Welt. It stated that 19% were still operational at the end 2021. The outlet claimed, citing a Germany military industry blog, that the country’s Navy recently refused to accept one such helicopter due to radar errors and a persistent fuel smell in the cockpit.
The NH-90 was first flown in 1995 and is in active service today in more than a dozen nations, mainly Europe.