The Norwegian Defence Material Agency (NDMA) has terminated its NH90 helicopters acquisition contract with NATO Helicopter Industries (NHI).

The agency will now start the preparations of returning the helicopters and its associated equipment received to NHI. 

NDMA will further request NHI for a refund of approximately $522.5m (NOK5bn), which was paid to the company under the contract.

Besides the refund, the agency will seek interest and other expenses incurred from NHI.

NDMA director general Gro Jære said:  “We have 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.”

The agency started acquisition of NH90 in 2001. Fourteen helicopters were intended for the Coast Guard and for other anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.

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Originally, the delivery of NH90 was scheduled by the end of 2008. However, NDMA claimed that only eight helicopters with full operational configuration have been delivered so far.  

According to NDMA, the existing fleet, which is required to deliver 3,900 flight hours annually, has averaged around 700 hours in the recent years.

In February this year, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence requested the NDMA, Armed Forces and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment to conduct a detailed review of Norway’s maritime helicopter capabilities.

The review determined that even with additional financial investments, NH90’s availability and performance cannot be elevated in accordance with the Norwegian requirements.

This contract termination has resulted in suspension of all the NH90 flight operations and cancellation of any planned future mission.

Soon, the NDMA will start the process of identifying an alternative maritime helicopter.