Zero new helicopters for Norwegian Coast Guard
The Norwegian Coast Guard despairs as it is likely to remain without solid helicopter capacity for several more years.
In a new report, Chief of Defense Haakon Bruun-Hanssen proposes to reserve the whole fleet of new helicopters to the country’s frigates. Originally, six of the 14 new helicopters were to be operated by the Coast Guard.
According to Bruun-Hanssen, there is now an urgent need for the helicopter assistance in fighting submarines.
«We are now in a situation were we have to re-evaluate the way we can get most capacity from this investment [and] my recommendation is that we give priority to the frigates», the Chief of Defense says in a press release.
«This is because the helicopters provide a weapon platform decisive for the frigates’ ability to discover and fight submarines», he adds.
Norway ordered the new helicopters already in 2001. The delivery was to be completed in 2008, but delays have been significant and ten years later the country has received only four copters.
The medium-sized, twin-engine and multi-role military helicopter is developed by Italian NHIndustries. They are to replace the Coast Guard’s Lynx helicopters which were taken out of service in 2014.
The price for the acquisition has grown to almost 7 billion kroner (€730 million).
Criticism of the new helicopters has grown massively. Technical problems with the machines have been abundant and experts say that they lack key capacities needed for efficient operations along the rough and wide-stretched Norwegian coast.
Chief of Defense Bruun-Hanssen argues that alternative solutions now must be found for the Coast Guard. He believes that leasing of other helicopters as well as use of UAVs can be part of the deal.