United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky may win an order from the Norwegian government as Eurocopter SAS and AgustaWestland, Europe’s largest helicopter makers, risk losing the deal for NH90 maritime choppers because of delays.
Norway told NH Industries, the European team bidding on the project, that it may buy Sikorsky Seahawks unless delivery issues on the NH90 are resolved, the Defense Ministry said today in a statement to Parliament. The NH90 order is valued at about $800 million.
Years of development and delivery delays have plagued NH Industries, a venture of Finmeccanica SpA’s AgustaWestland, European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.’s Eurocopter and Fokker Aerostructures in the Netherlands. In 2011, Sweden opted to buy Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks for Afghanistan operations because NH90s weren’t ready.
“We would welcome the chance to work with the government of Norway, should they decide to do so,” Paul Jackson, a Sikorsky spokesman, said by e-mail.
Norwegian government officials have met with Sikorsky to discuss a possible Seahawk purchase, the Defense Ministry said. The country also is considering extending the life of two Lynx helicopters as a stopgap measure, Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide said in the statement.
Norway will decide in the next six months on how to proceed, Eide told Parliament. The government is assessing the operational effect of a helicopter change, because navy frigates and coast guard vessels have prepared to fly NH90s.
The first NH90 for Norway was delivered last year as part of an order of 14 of the helicopters for coast guard and navy use. The armed forces are satisfied with the performance of the NH90 they have received and put through trials, Eide said.
Representatives of NH Industries weren’t immediately available for comment. Sikorsky has more than 600 Seahawks in operation worldwide, according to the website of the Stratford, Connecticut-based manufacturer.