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US approves Seahawk sale to Norway

Norway is to replace its 14 NH90 helicopters with six new MH-60Rs (pictured) to be procured from the US. (US Navy)

The United States has approved the sale to Norway of Lockheed Martin MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search-and-rescue (SAR) rotorcraft for an estimated USD1 billion.

The State Department approval announced on 26 April covers six helicopters, as well as related equipment, spares, training, and support.

“The proposed sale will improve Norway's capability to perform coastguard missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions, including vertical replenishment and communications relay,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said. “Norway will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence.”

News of the approval came six weeks after Norway announced on 14 March that it had selected the MH-60R to replace its NHIndustries (NHI) NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) ASW/SAR helicopters. The decision to axe the NH90 fleet was taken in 2022, with Norwegian Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram saying the platform “will never [meet] the requirements of the Norwegian Armed Forces”.

The six MH-60Rs will replace 14 NH90s, with deliveries to take place from 2025 to 2027. The future base for the Seahawk will be at Bardufoss, in the far north of Norway. While Norway is acquiring fewer MH-60Rs than the NH90s they are replacing, Gram said that the difference in numbers will be made up by using other capabilities to achieve the same effects, such as unmanned aircraft.

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