Norwegian Defense Minister finds Airbus NH90 helicopters incapable, seeks $500 million refund

The original contract with Norway for 14 NH90 helicopters was signed in 2001, but the country has received only eight, the ministry, based on PTI's report.

Norwegian Defense Minister finds Airbus NH90 helicopters incapable, seeks $500 million refund

Norway announced plans to scrap its NH90 military helicopter fleet and seek a refund from a consortium led by Europe's Airbus, which responded by calling the move "legally groundless." According to the defence minister and the head of the military, Norway will return the NH90 military helicopters it ordered from the NH Industries consortium because they are either unreliable or were delivered late. Oslo also stated that it would seek repayment of 5 billion crowns ($523 million), plus interest and other costs, from NHIndustries, which is owned by Airbus Helicopters, Italy's Leonardo, and the Netherlands' Fokker Aerostructures.

"No matter how many hours our technicians work and how many parts we order, it will never make the NH90 capable of meeting the requirements of the Norwegian Armed Forces," Defence Minister Bjoern Arild Gram told a news conference. The helicopter consortium said it was "extremely disappointed" by the decision.

"NHIndustries considers this termination to be legally groundless," it said in a statement. It said it had not been offered the possibility to discuss the latest proposal made to improve the availability of the NH90 in Norway or address specific Norwegian requirements. Airbus shares fell just over 1%.

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The original contract for 14 helicopters was signed in 2001, but Norway has received only eight, the ministry said. "We have a helicopter that doesn`t work the way it`s supposed to," said General Eirik Kristoffersen, the head of Norway`s armed forces.

However, NH Industries said it had delivered 13 of 14, and the fourteenth was ready for acceptance, meaning "we were close to finalising the main scope of the initial contract."

With inputs from Reuters

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