February 4, 2023

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Sløseriprisen, public expenditure |  Norway has spent 21 years and 8 billion on helicopters - with just one problem: - they don't fly.

Sløseriprisen, public expenditure | Norway has spent 21 years and 8 billion on helicopters – with just one problem: – they don’t fly.

20 years ago, the Norwegian government decided it was time to start work on replacing helicopters for the rescue helicopter service in the air force. The American version of the Sea King was in service for Norwegian defense for over 30 years.

Now 21 years and eight billion kroner have passed. The helicopters that are supposed to replace the older helicopters are unfortunately not airworthy.

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The Sea King, on the other hand, is still in use and has held its own for 53 years since they started building the helicopter in 1969.

This is the reason why Haljir Kwatschheim, an economist and well-known from the Luxusfallen, a jury member of Schlosserbrissen in this case, recommended helicopters for Schlosserbrissen 2022.

– I think a quote from former Air Force chief Thomas Colin Archer says it all: “There’s nothing crazy about it once it’s in the air. But it won’t fly,” Kwatsheim tells Netavisen.


The Helicopter Scandal – Jury’s Justification for Appointment

In June, it was reported that the Norwegian government in the defense sector will return eight helicopters 20 years after they were ordered. In total, there were supposed to be 14 maritime helicopters of the NH90 type, but the Norwegian Armed Forces did not undertake this work.

The helicopters are to be used on Coast Guard ships and warships and are “tailor-made to order” rather than off the shelf. The costs were estimated at NOK 5 billion, but in 2018 the National Audit Office estimated the costs to be more than NOK 8 billion: “Helicopters have so far provided few flight hours, have low availability and very limited operational functions. Helicopters require a lot of maintenance and have very high operating costs.” A report by the National Audit Office says. In the report, the NH90 was only a prototype when the contract was awarded, so it could not be shown to be in production.

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After 21 years, the contract is cancelled, which the manufacturer objects to, and the battle to return the product and demand money begins again. At the same time the Norwegian Armed Forces had to look for new alternatives.

Not surprisingly, the manufacturer objects that there are grounds for canceling the contract. Therefore, the question of tax crowns will be decided in the courtroom. Probably not in favor of Norway.

Total carnage from the National Audit Office

Already in 2018, a disastrous report National Audit Office About the helicopter project.

They summed up the matter by saying that delivery of the new NH90 helicopters would take 14 years longer than agreed. Neither the Ministry of Defence, Defense Materials nor the Armed Forces “adequately followed procurement” even if the supplier did not do a good job.

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– This is an account of the foretold disaster. It has taken more than 20 years for the Norwegian armed forces and authorities to break the still-unimplemented agreement. Hallkeir Kvadsheim tells Netavisen that there was no shortage of red flags or warnings from employees of the National Audit Office or the Norwegian Armed Forces.


Waste Prize 2022

Sløseriprisen was founded in 2015 by the Taxpayers Association, which initially had Netavisen as its partner.

The jury includes Mathilde Fasting at Civita Think Tank, Karin Ugland Virik, Executive Director of the SBF Tax Advocates and Taxpayers Association, Andreas Halls, Private Finance Expert, Project Manager and Founder of Debt Collection Registry, Andreas Halls, Course Manager at Agenda. and Gunnar Stavrum, editor-in-chief of Netavisen.

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Jury members nominated each project for the award. Netavisen will present five nominees for the award before readers decide the winner in a vote. Candidates presented so far are:

  • Renovation of the National Theatre
  • Incorporation and Dissolution of Wicken County

The prize has been awarded five times so far. Their construction project, Starting, received the first award because it was 2,400 percent under budget. Since then, the recipients have been NAV, Health Southeast, Westland County Municipality and Europavei 39.

French fade

The NH90 helicopter, which Norway has been struggling with for more than 20 years, is mainly manufactured by the French company Airbus. The helicopters should be delivered between 2005-2008. But the first helicopter did not arrive for six years overtime. Not only that: 800 deviations were found in the helicopter.

But the Norwegian authorities did not cancel the contract until relatively recently, when it was decided to return eight helicopters out of a total of 14. While the helicopter itself is supposed to be amazing, it has significant flaws when it comes to actually flying.

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Also, the helicopter is becoming an outdated technology.

Helicopters, 14 years late, costing NOK 8 billion and unwilling to fly, is the fourth candidate for Sløseriprisen. You can read about other candidates below. After a while, the last, fifth candidate arrives.

Readers will decide which nominee should be awarded.

Supplier dispute

– Despite all the warnings and red flags, a couple of decades later – until now – no one has been able to cut enough. Unfortunately, this is something that is repeated in many cases at Sløseriprisen. Inability to curtail projects going in the wrong direction. Responsibilities are pulverized, especially in projects with long time horizons, says Kwatsheim to Netavisen.

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He explains that he ordered a car years in advance and when it arrived, it was 14 years late and wouldn’t start. And along the way you are constantly notified that this will happen.

But even if the contract is terminated, the supplier believes that the contract is legally void. And it has rejected the Norwegian authorities’ desire to send back helicopters that are not designed to fly.

– One of my most important priorities

More than 20 years after the agreement was signed, it is completely unacceptable for Norway to be without new helicopters, says Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gramm (SP).

– More than 20 years after the contract was signed, the government decided to terminate the contract with NHI when we still don’t have helicopters that can do the work they bought, he tells Netavisen.

Only eight helicopters were delivered in the final version. They must fly 3,900 hours a year. Instead, they have flown 700 hours because of all the problems with the helicopters. At the Minister’s behest, the Defense Department has decided that major investments are needed to solve the problem.

– The need to find a replacement for NH90 is high, while getting new helicopters is not done in the blink of an eye. But I can assure you that this is one of my most important priorities,” Gram tells Netavision.