August 16, 2012

Sikorsky Seahawks may fill Norway’s ‘copter void

Norway's military may buy Seahawk helicopters from United Technologies' Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford if the European helicopters it ordered seven years ago are not delivered by the end of the year, Reuters reports, quoting Norway's the defense minister.

Norway ordered 14 NH-90 helicopters for 6.3 billion crowns ($1.1 billion) in 2005 from the NHIndustries consortium but only one has been delivered so far.

"We want the European helicopter because it is the superior machine according to our needs," Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide told Reuters Thursday. "But of course we need the helicopters to be delivered.

"This is an early warning to the European manufacturer, that if we don't see deliveries by the end of the year, then we have to look for other alternatives. The Sikorsky Seahawk fills our criteria and is the strongest alternative."

NHIndustries, owned by Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Fokker Aerostructures, has struggled to deliver the helicopters because of development and quality control issues, Barth Eide said.

However, Norway is running out of time as its current helicopters are lacking key operational capabilities and are approaching their operational age-limit, Barth Eide said.

AgustaWestland is part of Italian aerospace group Finmeccanica while Eurocopter is a unit of pan-European aerospace group EADS.

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