The Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Police recently announced that Norway and Iceland were likely to jointly acquire new Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters.
For the last 35 years, Norway has used Sea King helicopters in their SAR operations on land and offshore. SAR helicopters are an essential safety measure in Norway due to its offshore and fishing industries, as well as the large number of outdoor activities which take place in rugged mountain areas under bad weather conditions.
Iceland faces similarly harsh conditions and often requires the use of SAR helicopters for rescue missions. In the past, these helicopters were provided by the US who had a military base at Keflavik. However, after the withdrawal of American forces from Iceland last year, the country is now looking to buy three new all-weather helicopters of its own.
Norway will be replacing 10 to 12 of its helicopters by the year 2015 and has teamed up with Iceland to consider a joint procurement process.
Both countries are members of the NAWSARH project (Norwegian All Weather Search and Rescue Helicopter), which is organising the acquisition. The project is expecting to release a tender in 2009.