Leonardo has delivered the first of 16 AW101 all-weather long-range search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopters to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

The aircraft is expected to enter service with the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) in 2018, following the completion of the operational test and evaluation (OT&E) phase.

The OT&E of the aircraft will be performed at Sola Air Base in southern Norway.

Deliveries of the aircraft will be completed by the end of 2020.

The aircraft, which are intended to replace the existing Sea King helicopters, will be deployed across each of the six main operating bases to conduct SAR operations.

Leonardo programme manager Jon Clark said: “The AW101 we have developed for Norway is undoubtedly the world’s most capable SAR helicopter and it is with great pride that we have delivered the first aircraft that will serve the people of Norway for decades to come.

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“This contract is very much a long-term partnership, consisting of industry, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Royal Norwegian Air Force, and the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency, which has a common goal to deliver a SAR service second to none.”

Powered by three engines, the AW101 is equipped with a full ice protection system for flight in known icing conditions, a proven 30-minute ‘run dry’ gearbox, as well as multiple redundancy features in the avionics and mission systems.

The aircraft’s advanced SAR equipment package includes a multi-panel Osprey AESA surveillance radar system that provides 360° coverage, four-axis digital automatic flight control system (AFCS), two rescue hoists, searchlight, electro-optical device, and a fully integrated avionics and mission system.

“The company will provide performance-based logistic support to deliver approximately 90,000 flying hours across the fleet of 16 helicopters over the initial 15-year period.”

AW101 also features a mobile telephone detection system, obstacle proximity warning system, weather radar, complete medical station, and mission console.

Leonardo is also providing initial support and training services, including spares at each of the operating bases.

The company will provide performance-based logistic support to deliver approximately 90,000 flying hours across the fleet of 16 helicopters over the initial 15-year period.

Leonardo has partnered with AIM Aviation to provide maintenance services at the RNoAF’s six operating bases and with Kongsberg Defence Systems to provide helicopter transmission repair and overhaul services in Norway.