Norway Buying New SAR Helos

Always nice to know what the other guy is doing. DefenseUpdate is reporting the Norwegians are planning on replacing their current SAR helicopters with a fleet of at least 16 three engine Agusta Westland AW101s. Contract includes an option for an additional six.

Perhaps it is noteworthy that they are still using a version of the HH-3 which the USCG replaced two decades ago. With H-3s still in use by Norway, the UK, and Canada, perhaps we are not doing so badly.

The specs are impressive:

“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.”

The AW101 is a very large, fast, long ranged helicopter. It is also in service with the Canadians in a SAR role. It has experienced a number of problems, that now appear to have been resolved. Below are characteristic of the AW101 in its Canadian CH-149 form followed by those of the Coast Guard’s MH-60 taken from their Wiki descriptions.

CH-149 General characteristics

  • Crew: 5 (Aircraft Commander, First Officer, Flight Engineer, 2 SAR Techs)
  • Capacity:
    • 30 seated troops or
    • 45 standing troops or
    • 16 stretchers with medics
  • Length: 22.81 m (74 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 6.65 m (21 ft 10 in)
  • Empty weight: 10,500 kg (23,149 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 14,580 kg (32,143 lb)
  • Powerplant: 3 × General Electric T700-T6A1 turboshaft, 1,286 kW (1,725 hp) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 18.59 m (61 ft 0 in)


  • Never exceed speed: 309 km/h (192 mph; 167 kn)
  • Range: 1,389 km (863 mi; 750 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 4,575 m (15,010 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 10.2 m/s (2,010 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 53.8 kg/m2 (11.0 lb/sq ft)
  • Power/mass: 0.2849 kW/kg (0.174 shp/lb)

HH-60J General characteristics

  • Crew: Four (pilot, co-pilot, two flight crew)
  • Length: 64 ft 10 in (19.76 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 53 ft 8 in (16.36 m)
  • Height: 17 ft (5.18 m)
  • Empty weight: 14,500 lb (6,580 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 21,884 lb (9,926 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric T700-GE-401C gas turbines, 1,890 shp (1,410 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 180 knots (205 mph, 333 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 140 knots (160 mph, 260 km/h)
  • Range: 700 nautical miles (802 mi, 1,300 km)
  • Service ceiling: 5,000 ft hovering (1,520 m)

Note this is for the HH-60, not the characteristics as modified to MH-60J and that the criteria for service ceiling are different.

6 thoughts on “Norway Buying New SAR Helos

  1. Pingback: Weekend Reading: 09 Nov 2013 | Center for International Maritime SecurityCenter for International Maritime Security

  2. With the way the USCG uses its H-60s, there’s no reason a bigger, longer-ranged “Heavy SAR” helo wasn’t acquired instead. If the service had a sea-based platform to use the H-60s, fine, but I wonder when (if ever?) a USCG H-60 landed on a vessel at sea?

  3. Shore based USCG MH-60’s certainly use US Navy assets as refueling platforms for offshore rescues on a regular basis. Here’s a recent survivor’s account that describes landing on the USS Ross to refuel (and the galley sent provisions too). Although a heavier shore based helicopter might have a greater range it would also have fewer assets capable of providing a green deck.

  4. Norway is also building new patrol boats at about US$250 million per hull:

    “Details on the design are not yet in place, but the Government says the vessels will have ice-breaking capabilities and on-board helicopter.”

    No info yet whether these will be “serious” icebreakers such as KV Svalbard, or just ice-strengthened…

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