From January 1st, 2020, the Royal Norwegian Air Force set up a new Maritime helicopter wing: The 139 Air Wing of Bardufoss Air Station. The new unit will mainly focus on maritime missions, in which the Norwegian NH90 helicopters play a major role.
In addition to the maritime missions, the helicopter wing will maintain its duties in relation to airport operation, flight school and increasing allied training at Bardufoss air station.
« Bardufoss has existed as a military air station for 82 years. During that time we have been through many changes, different names and different assignments and focus. Now we are a maritime helicopter wing, a new chapter. The world is changing and we have to adapt to it. Focusing on the northern and marine areas will give us new focus. We will deliver the NH90 on the Coast Guard and frigate and create a closer cooperation with the Navy, » the new Maritime Helicopter Wing commander, Colonel Eirik Stueland, said.
The RNoN currently operates a fleet of eight NH90 NFH ASW helicopters, with six more on order. They will be jointly operated by the Norwegian Navy and Coast guards. According to the Norwegian MoD, IOC will be reached in 2020 for the Coast guard missions. « This means that it achieves an initial operational capability and can begin conducting certain tasks, » the MoD said.
« In 2024-2025, we will be fully operational on both frigate and coastguard missions. It is an ambitious goal, but we are working hard to achieve it. We have been training for many years to become operational on the coastguard ships, and we now regularly operate from coastguard ships with the NH90. This experience means that it will take less time to become operational on the frigates, » Stueland added.