LATEST UPDATE 15:53 UTC (16:53 Oslo local time) 24 July 2014 | Royal Norwegian Air Force Bell 412 tactical helicopters at Rygge Airbase south of Oslo have been put on a very high state of alert after the Norwegian interior security police (PST) issued a warning of an imminent terror threat against yet unknown locations in the Scandinavian country.
According to a short statement made by Norwegian Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen the choppers of 720 Skvadron now have to able to be airborne in 15 minutes, against a normal response time of 120 minutes (2 hours). That means air crews are basically at stand-by near the aircraft. The Rygge Bell 412s cannot only be tasked with inserting military anti-terror units, their assignments can include moving police forces – including SWAT teams – quickly across the country.
After the 22 July 2011 mass murder executed by a single right-wing radical in Oslo and on the nearby island of Utøya, killing 77 people, military air assets were called in relatively late – even when the armed forces themselves had them ready. In the aftermath police, the Justice Department and the Norwegian armed forces have streamlined their co-operation. The deployment of Norwegian Bell 412 can now also include Norwegian police snipers taking position at the side doors on the helicopters floor while the pilots keep the chopper hoovering in the air.
RNoAF 720 Skvadron is about to be disbanded, with the majority of the choppers moving to Bardufoss in the north, as part of a restructuring operation that will the regular military use of Rygge Airbase to only a single search-and-rescue helicopter. Since several years Rygge is also a growing civilian airport, servicing airliners up to Boeing 737.
Apart from the 720 Skvadron helicopters, the Norwegian armed forces in general have not been put on a higher state of alert at all. In stead the police forces have put more armed officers on key locations, including on the nation’s airports.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger