The Norwegian defense ministry has set up a maritime helicopter squadron that will incorporate the country’s NH90 helicopters that were ordered back in 2001.
A total of 14 helicopters were ordered, eight for operations on coast guard ships and six for the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates.
After years of delays, the helicopters are finally set to start performing coast guard tasks after an initial operational capability (IOC) is declared later this year, according to the defense ministry.
A full operational capability with both the coast guard and the navy is expected to be achieved by 2024-25.
On a more positive note, the defense ministry noted that 2019 saw the NH90s provide support to the coastguard, carry out several rescue missions on land, and participate in exercise Flotex. Sonar deployment tests carried out in the past year were also satisfactory.
The helicopters are starting missions with the coast guard over five years after it retired the last of its Lynx helicopters. The final of 14 helicopters had initially been expected to be delivered to Norway by 2008. The country received its first helicopter in 2011 while the final unit is set to be delivered by 2022.