Kongsberg Defence Systems has signed an agreement with AgustaWestland to support the company’s bid for the Norwegian all weather search-and-rescue helicopter (NAWSARH) contract.
In July, AgustaWestland was shortlisted along with Eurocopter by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security to conduct further negotiations for the contract, which seeks to replace the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s (RoNAF) existing Mk43B Sea King helicopter fleet.
AgustaWestland is offering its AW101 Merlin medium-lift helicopter for the contract, which covers supply of up to 16 search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopters, along with an option for an additional six aircraft.
If AgustaWestland wins the contract, the agreement is expected to significantly expand the long-term helicopter activities at Kongsberg, including a potential for NOK150m to NOK200m ($25m to $33.3m) in yearly revenues, while securing 50 jobs for approximately 30 years.
Representing an expansion of tasks and development related to AW101 rotorhead and gearbox maintenance and testing, the agreement also includes transfer of technology for advanced test equipment, enabling full-functional testing of gearboxes and other new technologies in helicopter maintenance.
The integration of new test equipment opens new possibilities for sustainment of other gearboxes in the AgustaWestland portfolio, including the NH-90 helicopter.
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Kongsberg has been maintaining the rotorheads and gearboxes of Norway’s existing Sea King fleet for the past 30 years.
Around 12 Mk43B Sea Kings are currently operated by RoNAF’s 330 Squadron for SAR and air ambulance missions.
The NAWSARH contract is anticipated to be awarded by the year end, as the final Sea King is scheduled to be phased out by the end of 2020.
Other programme bidders included NH Industries’ NH-90 Nato frigate helicopter (NFH) and the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter.
Image: The NAWSARH programme seeks replacement of RoNAF’s existing Mk43B Sea King helicopter fleet. Photo: Dmitriy Pichugin.