According to Coast Guard Chief Sverre Engeness, helicopters are a huge asset when it comes to keeping track of Norwegian waters and may also come handy in transporting sick sailors ashore.
In addition to delays, the helicopters were found to have serious deficiencies and may be deemed unfit for service in the Coast Guard. The NH90's Achilles' heel is that it only tolerates a lurch of around 20 degrees when aboard coastguard vessels, whereas Norwegian helicopter carriers are known to run a lurch of nearly 50 degrees in rough seas.
"It means that we are unable to take the helicopter out to sea," Coast Guard Chief Sverre Engeness told Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.
Member of Parliament Jan Arild Ellingsen of the Progress Party ventured that the new information is enough proof that the Defense Ministry has failed in a very important area.
"This is a political scandal. Once again, we hear about the failures in key areas, which is totally untenable," an enraged Ellingsen told NRK.
Knut Erik Oulie, project coordinator at the Norwegian Armed Forces, nevertheless believes that the problem will solve itself.
"We are quite confident that this is a temporary restriction only, which will dissolve during this season," Oulie told Kyst og Fjord.
The NH90 is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter. It was developed in response to NATO requirements for a battlefield helicopter which would also be capable of being operated in naval environments. The NH90 was developed and is manufactured by NHIndustries, a collaborative company in which NATO countries Germany, France, Italy and Spain have ownership interests. During its early service, the NH90 suffered multiple teething issues, which in turn delayed active use by some operators.
Norway has also considered breaking the contract. In 2013, then-Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen told Norwegian daily Aftenposten that the precarious situation when the entire Coast Guard would be left without helicopters (which in effect appeared after the last of the Lynx helicopters was taken out of service) spoke against the termination of the contract.