The upgraded main base for new rescue helicopters opened on Sola
Without the new rescue helicopters being in place, the Government opened the new main base for the 330 squadron on the military part of Sola Airport outside Stavanger.
The base at Sola was opened by Minister of Justice and Emergency Planning, Per-Willy Amundsen (Frp) and Minister of Defense, Ine Eriksen Søreide (H). This becomes the main base for the six bases the 330 squadron has around Norway and is the hub of the rescue service including Engineering and Management.
– At the opening one of the new rescue helicopters (AW101) was to be delivered to Norway. For the first time present on Norwegian soil, the Ministry of Justice states in a press release.
The delivery of the 16 new helicopters is delayed due to the reasons for “challenges in production, testing and certification of the first helicopters”. According to the original plan, the first two were to be delivered by April 1st, but the Ministry announced to NTB that they would be delivered during the summer. Regardless of this delay, all helicopters and upgraded bases will be operational by 2020.
– One of several important milestones in the acquisition of the new rescue helicopters is today, says Per-Willy Amundsen, Minister of Justice and Emergency Planning.
In December 2013, the Government signed a contract for the delivery of 16 new rescue helicopters of the type AW101 to replace today’s Sea King rescue helicopters, which were put into operation in 1973.
Facts about AgustaWestland AW101, wikipedia
The AgustaWestland AW101 is a medium-lift helicopter used in both military and civil applications. It was developed by a joint venture between Westland Helicopters in the UK and Agusta in Italy in response to national requirements for a modern naval utility helicopter. Several operators, including the armed forces of Britain, Denmark, Norway and Portugal, use the name Merlin for their AW101 aircraft. It is manufactured at factories in Yeovil, England and Vergiate, Italy; licensed assembly work has also taken place in Japan and the United States.
Prior to 2007, the aircraft had been marketed under the designation EH101. The original designation was EHI 01 but a transcription error of a handwritten note changed this to EH101 and the designation stuck. In 2000, Westland Helicopters and Agusta merged to form AgustaWestland, leading to the type’s redesignation as AW101. The AW101 first flew in 1987, and entered into service in 1999. Since the AW101’s introduction, it has replaced several older helicopter types, such as the Sea King, performing roles such as medium-sized transport, anti-submarine warfare, and ship-based utility operations.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operates a variant of the AW101, designated CH-149 Cormorant, in the air-sea rescue role. Another variant, designated VH-71 Kestrel, was developed to serve in the US presidential transport fleet; however, the program was cancelled. Civil operators also use AW101s in roles such as passenger and VIP transportation. The type has been deployed to active combat theatres, such as in support of coalition forces during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today