Finmeccanica, EADS Helicopter Venture Risks Losing Norway Deal
Eurocopter SAS and Agusta SpA, Europe’s largest helicopter makers, risk losing an order for NH90 maritime choppers because of delivery delays that is prompting Norway to consider United Technologies Corp. (UTX)’s Sikorsky rotorcraft instead.
The Norwegian government has told NH Industries it may buy Sikorsky Seahawk helicopters unless delivery issues on the NH90 are resolved, the defense ministry said today in a statement to parliament. The country also is considering extending the life of two Lynx helicopters as a stop-gap measure, Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide said in the statement.
Development and delivery delays for years have plagued NH Industries, the consortium of Finmeccanica SpA (FNC)’s AgustaWestland, European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. (EAD)’s Eurocopter and Fokker in the Netherlands. Sweden already opted to buy Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks for Afghanistan operations because NH90s were not ready.
Norway will decide in the next six months one how to proceed, Eide told parliament. The government is assessing the operational impact of a helicopter change, since the navy’s frigates and coast guard vessels have prepared for NH90 use.
The Scandinavian country, which has contracted to buy 14 NH90s for coast guard and navy use, got its first unit last year. The armed forces are satisfied with the performance of the NH90 they have received and put through trials, Eide said.
NH Industries representatives were not immediately available for comment. Norwegian government officials have already met with Sikorsky to discuss a possible Seahawk purchase, the ministry said.
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