The Auditor-General of Norway has heavily criticised the country’s procurement of the NHIndustries NH90 helicopter, saying that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) did not take the risks associated with the multinational programme seriously.
In its report published on 25 October, the Office of the Auditor General attributes ongoing problems with the helicopter procurement programme to both the original equipment manufacturer, NHIndustries (NHI), and to the Norwegian MoD.
“NHI obviously has a lot of responsibility for delays. At the same time, important prerequisites for the acquisition have not been followed up well enough on the Norwegian side. The Ministry of Defense and the armed forces did not go into the basis for choosing [the] NH90 more seriously, and did not take the risk seriously,” Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss said.
The Scandinavian neighbours of Finland, Norway, and Sweden selected the NH90 in 2001 to satisfy the requirements of their Nordic Standard Helicopter Project (NH90 Tactical Troop Transport [TTT]). Norway ordered 14 NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopters (NFHs), which were supposed to have all been received by 2008 but have still not all been delivered. To date only six interim ‘Step A’-configured (without weaponry and sensors for the anti-submarine warfare or anti-surface warfare roles) and two final ‘Step B’-configured helicopters have been handed over. Retrofits of the ‘Step A’ platforms to ‘Step B’ standard will run alongside continued deliveries of new helicopters through to the declaration of full-operating capability (FOC) in 2022.
While Royal Norwegian Air Force (RoNAF) NH90 operations from coastguard ships started in mid-2015, the helicopter has yet to achieve an operational capability from Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN) frigates. It is likely the NH90s will start operating from the frigates around 2020, and until the new helicopters reach FOC shortly after the RNoN’s, maritime patrol and ASW capabilities will remain limited.
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