In a reaction to improve – amongst other things – its readiness in case of an imminent terror threat, the Norwegian government wants to put the Bell 412s of the Armed Forces in a permanent higher state of alert.
The conservative government in Oslo has put this into the 2015 Budget proposal. Although 139 Luftving (139 Airwing) since August took fool control of both the nine Bell 412SPs in Bardufoss as well as at Rygge near Oslo, the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s Bell unit at the base near Oslo will stay on strength, despite our earlier fears of reduction as part of the downscaling of Rygge. Four of all the 18 Bells are already on a permanent state of alert, meaning they have to be airborne within 2 hours. If the government plan will be okayed by the parliament the reaction time will be cut to less than an hour.
Apart from flying in military response units, the Bells at Rygge are also tasked with transporting police units in and around the capital in emergency situations. The 412s at Bardufoss are more involved in rescue operations. For SAR flights as such the Norwegian military relies on the aging Westland Sea King, but this chopper is scheduled to be replaced by the AgustaWestland AW101. That’s roughly the same helicopter as the Canadian CH-149 Cormorant.
During the summer the Bell helicopters were the only military unit kept on a higher state of alert when Norway was expecting a terror attack on its soil by fellow countrymen connected to the so-called Islamic State forces fighting in Syria.
Source: Forsvaret / Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger