NH90 is coming – spare parts missing

NH90 helicopterA French Marine Nationale NHIndustries NH90 NFH helicopter assigned to the frigate Provence (D652) lands on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54), not visible, during a bilateral exercise in the Bay of Bengal.. Photo: US Navy

NH90 is coming to Norway! Who needs spare parts?

The Norwegian Chief of Defence sees light at the end of the tunnel regarding the NH90 helicopters, but one major challenge remains: To pilfer enough spare parts for the choppers.


The spare parts are the critical issue at the moment, Norwegian Chief of Defence Haakon Bruun-Hanssen tells NTB.

Bruun-Hanssen clarifies the situation regarding the acquisition of the NH90 helicopters for the Armed Forces today. He does this in an open hearing in the Control and Constitutional Committee.

The NH90 was supposed to replace the ageing workhorse, the Sea King, several years ago.

The backlog of maintenance is mainly due to that. It is one thing that maintenance takes much longer. More importantly is: If we don’t have spare parts, we can’t move on – we simply will not be able to complete the task.

What is the consequence if the spare parts don’t come?

Then we don’t have operational helicopters, is Bruun-Hanssen’s brutal answer.

NOK 470 million more per year

The Chief of Defence points out that money has now been set aside to increase the Air Force’s operations organisation to deal with the maintenance challenge. The nations that have bought the same helicopter as Norway, are now pushing the supplier NHI to increase both the production and distribution of parts.

I keep faith in that we will solve it, but I do not dare to be adamant, Bruun-Hanssen states.

The latest forecasts show that maintenance annually comes to a cost of NOK 470 million more than first assumed.

The Norwegian Parliament demand an answer to how the helicopter project could take such a long time and with such poor deliveries, without anyone pulling the plug.

The 14 NH90 helicopters that the Norwegian Ministry of Defence decided to purchase in 2001, were to be delivered in the years 2005–2008. Ten years later, Norway has received only eight. Six of them which can only be used for training.

Horror story

The latest delivery is currently scheduled for 2022, although no one can say affirm that with any certainty.

The manufacturer, NHI, is the main reason for the challenges regarding the acquisition and phasing in of the helicopters, in my opinion. The inability to deliver on time and with the required quality has been a recurring theme ever since 2004, the Chief of Defence asserts.

During the hearing, the control committee heard many alarming figures:

  • The helicopter is found in 27 different variants.
  • The need for spare parts is 15 times larger than assumed.
  • 800 deviations were revealed when the first helicopter finally came in 2011.
  • The helicopter has only had 20-25 per cent of the expected operational availability in Norway.

The OAG’s review last autumn of the investment is the basis for the hearing. Failure from the very beginning has had serious consequences, both economically and operationally, according to the audit.

The report shows that the Norwegian Armed Forces and thereby, the taxpayers, have spent NOK 8 billion on something that has not even been delivered.

Many questions

Rapporteur Hans Fredrik Grøvan (Christian Democrats) has many questions he wants answers to.

How is it possible that a project that has gone on for such a long time and with such poor deliveries can be accepted, without anyone putting their foot down. Taking the necessary, often unpleasant, decisions to clean up this mess? Grøvan rhetorically asks NTB.

It is a criticism that affects everyone who has been involved in this project, says Grøvan.

The Rapporteur wants to know:

  • What the lines of responsibility have been.
  • Who has been responsible for the decisions
  • How close the political leadership has been to the Armed Forces when it comes to the decision-making processes.

The Ministers of Defence who have to answer for the scandalous project are as follows:

  • Bjørn Tore Godal (Labour),
  • Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen (Labour),
  • Grete Faremo (Labour)
  • Espen Barth Eide (Labour)
  • Kristin Krohn Devold (Conservatives)
  • Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives),
  • Frank Bakke- Jensen (Conservatives)

Jensen is the current Norwegian Minister of Defence.

Devold comes to part two of the hearing on Wednesday, February 6th, for practical reasons.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


1 Comment on "NH90 is coming – spare parts missing"

  1. This is what happens when you buy helicopters from the French!

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