“The Sea King helicopters have been used for decades to save people in need and difficulties. Now the first of our new rescue helicopters have finally been put into operation. With that, the rescue service has received a significant boost - both over sea and land - and will help to strengthen our overall preparedness,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
During the ceremony at the Sola base, the Prime Minister took the symbolic act of handing over the guard radio to the new helicopters and their crew, to show that the SAR Queen is now in the process of taking over the job of the Sea King helicopters. SAR stands for "Search And Rescue".
“The new rescue helicopters will have far better range, greater speed and better ability to operate in bad weather than today's Sea King helicopters. These properties mean that the helicopter can come to the rescue significantly faster than the current Sea King in almost all types of weather conditions,” says Minister of Justice and Emergency Management Monica Mæland.
A new era
To date, eight of the 16 new rescue helicopters are in Norway, and three more will be taken over during the autumn and winter.
Today marks the first step of the transition from the rescue helicopter Sea King, that has been with us for many years, to the new search and rescue (SAR) helicopter SAR Queen at the Royal Norwegian Air Force base Sola. pic.twitter.com/8N9l1fdsha— Luftforsvaret (@Luftforsvaret) September 1, 2020
Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen also attended the ceremony at Sola on Tuesday.
“Today we mark the beginning of a new era in the rescue service. The new rescue helicopters take over the baton, first here at Sola. This gives the rescue service even better conditions for solving its mission. The rescue service solves assignments every single day, throughout the year,” says Bakke-Jensen.
According to the plan, all helicopters will be in operation by 2022. The further phasing in depends, among other things, on the duration of infection control measures in connection with the coronavirus.
The SAR-Queen helicopter has a large cabin that provides space for many people. This also provides good working conditions for the crew. This applies not least to the treatment of injured people at the advanced trauma stations on board.
During the development of the helicopter, great emphasis was placed on utilizing new and advanced technology to be able to find those in need of rescue under demanding conditions. Among the technological innovations are a radar that can detect small "targets" at a very long distance and a new mobile search system that can locate mobile phones outside the coverage area - even during avalanches.
The Norwegian version of the helicopter is the most advanced on the market today and is now the supplier's basic model for other customers. It will continue to be technologically at the forefront for many years to come.
The Air Force is looking forward to taking the new rescue helicopters into operational use. The commander of the Air Force, Major General Tonje Skinnarland, today thanked in particular the employees and their families, and everyone who has collaborated on the phasing in of the new rescue helicopter.
“Today, Norway gets an improved rescue service - a service that means so much to so many. Both for the people who need support, and for the people who are on standby every single day throughout the year. For all of them, the job is not just a profession, but a lifestyle where the will to solve tasks and save lives is always in focus,” says Skinnarland.