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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Finland Takes First Troop Transport NH90


Finland’s army has taken delivery of the first of 20 NH90 Tactical Troop Transports (TTT) under a renegotiated contract that compensated it for extensive delivery delays.

Delivered from Eurocopter’s Marignane, France facility, where it was assembled, the first aircraft is to be stationed at the Utti Base of the Finnish Defense Forces. The remaining 19 NH90 TTTs are to be assembled by Patria in Finland. Finland is replacing its aging fleet of Mi-8s with the NH90 TTT.

Eurocopter has agreed to pay Finland €20 million ($31.7 million) to compensate for the delays. Finland ordered the NH90s in 2001 as a part of a common order of 52 with Sweden and Norway. It was to have received its first NH90 in late 2004. The delays had prompted the country to consider ordering Sikorsky Aircraft H-60s as an alternative.

The delivery follows a review of the delays by a consultant appointed late last year by Finnish Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies. The consultant attributed the delays to the aircraft maker, NHIndustries, being a new joint venture and the ongoing development of the product. He also found the project timetable was too ambitious. He did say Finland chose the right helicopter for its missions, adding the NH90 would be "suitable for international cooperation as well as international crisis management operations," according to the defense ministry.

The NH90 program is managed by NHIndustries, made up of Eurocopter (with 62.5 percent), AgustaWestland (32 percent) and Stork Fokker (5.5 percent).

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