AW101 Selected for $2.7 Billion Norwegian Search & Rescue Program

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Denmark is operating eight AW101 helicopters since 2007. Photo: Agustawestland
Denmark is operating eight AW101 helicopters since 2007. Photo: Agustawestland

The Norwegian Government selected AgustaWestland Ltd. for the delivery of up to 22 new AW-10 search and rescue helicopters to replace the current Sea King. “AgustaWestland AW 101 is the candidate that in total, after intensive negotiations, best meets the demands for Norway’s future SAR helicopter.” the Ministry of Justice and Public Security said in its announcement. “The new helicopters will be able to relieve significantly more people in distress, be noticeably faster and with longer range than today – under virtually all weather conditions. Additionally, search capability and the possibility for medical treatment are significantly improved.” Norway and Iceland have an agreement to jointly buy SAR helicopters due to the very similar operating requirements. Iceland is currently operating three Eurocopter Super Puma AS-332L1 helicopters.

Eight AW101 SAR Model 512 are operated by the 722 squadron of the Royal Danish Air Force. Photo: AgustaWestland
Eight AW101 SAR Model 512 are operated by the 722 squadron of the Royal Danish Air Force. Photo: AgustaWestland

AgustaWestland came as the preferred bidder with its AW101, over Eurocopter, offering the EC722. The company will deliver 16 new AW101 helicopters configured for SAR missions, to replace the current Sea King. The Norwegian government has an option for further 6 helicopters. The package also includes related equipment and maintenance. First deliveries are planned for 2017. Norway is planning to phase out the Sea King operations across the country by the end of 2020.

The aim is that the contract following final negotiations will be concluded by the end of the year. The acquisition cost is expected to be more than 2 billion Euros (17 billion Norwegian Krones, or US$2.76 billion)

The CH149 Cormorant variant of the AW101 is operated by the 103 SAR, and 413 and 442 transport squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Photo: AgustaWestland
The CH149 Cormorant variant of the AW101 is operated by the 103 SAR, and 413 and 442 transport squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Photo: AgustaWestland.

As a medium/heavy multi-role platform AW101 has a large cabin that can carry 30+ survivors, SAR equipment and crew, and the cabin can be reconfigured in flight to meet mission requirements. crashworthy seats or 16 stretcher patients. The helicopter is powered by three GE CT7-8E engines, but can also cruise with one engine idling, to extend range or endurance of 750 nm (over 1300 km). High cruise speed, all weather operating capability, high reliability and safety are among its main advantages. The company also offers a special variant for Combat Search and Rescue missions, for which the AW101 can be equipped with up to 3 window and door mounted guns, Defensive Aids Suite and air-to-air refueling equipment.

Norway and Iceland are both planning to replace their Seaking SAR helicopters with a new platform. The Norwegian choice is likely to be followed by a similar decision by Iceland.
The Norwegian Government selected AgustaWestland Ltd. for the delivery of up to 22 new AW-10 search and rescue helicopters to replace the current Sea King that has been in service for 36 years.