Airbus Tiger (EC665)
Airbus Tiger (EC665) user+1@localho… Mon, 12/20/2021 - 21:17 The Tiger (formerly EC665) is an attack helicopter built by Airbus and is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 engines. Each nation uses the Tiger in slightly different...
The Tiger (formerly EC665) is an attack helicopter built by Airbus and is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 engines. Each nation uses the Tiger in slightly different roles such as force protection and armed reconnaissance, which has led to multiple divergent aircraft configurations across France, Germany, Spain and Australia. As of the time of this writing, 161 Tigers are in operational service of the more than 180 helicopters delivered.
In 1974 the Bundeswehr (German Military) conducted a threat analysis of projected threats from Warsaw Pact forces and concluded its military urgently needed to field a fleet of modern anti-tank helicopters. Early West German Army staff requirements determined it would need a 5-ton-class helicopter with a 2 ½-hr. endurance, cruise speed of 168 mph (270 kph), night vision capability and an armament of at least eight 2 ½-mi. (4 km)-range anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). West German doctrine assumed NATO forces would establish air superiority, but the new helicopter was expected to defend itself from adversary helicopters. An interim purchase of Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 1 (PAH-1, meaning “anti-tank helicopter” 1) helicopters, was approved in 1975 to buy time for the development of a dedicated anti-armor helicopter; the PAH-1 was a Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) BO 105s armed with six HOT Semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) missiles. Germany examined the acquisition of the McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache and joined the Italian Mangusta program prior to its partnership with France.
Having withdrawn from NATO’s integrated military command in 1966, French military requirements for new combat helicopters in the early 1970s reflected substantially different military doctrine and national defense objectives when compared to West German requirements. Under a European intervention scenario, French Army staff predicted they would face overwhelming numbers of armored forces supported by integrated air defense systems. France foresaw the need to procure two new types of combat helicopters. One type would defeat armored forces and the other would protect the anti-armor helicopter from aerial threats.
In November 1975, German and French defense ministers discussed the need for both nations to acquire modern anti-tank helicopters capable of operating at night. Political disagreements and divergent requirements delayed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) until May 1984. The MoU outlined the development of three helicopters which would all share the same airframe and engines. Germany would acquire 212 Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 2 (PAH-2) helicopters by 1996. France would acquire 140 Hélicoptère Antichars avec Missile Antichars de 3e Génération (Anti-tank helicopter with third generation ATGMs, HAC-3, which was eventually shorted to HAC) and 75 Hélicoptère d'Appui Protection “support and protection helicopter” by 2000.
The program was nearly canceled in 1986 after rising costs and disagreements over the new helicopter’s targeting and night vision system. Key stakeholders within the Bundeswehr’s leadership favored the purchase of AH-64 Apaches. Even before the deterioration in negotiations, Germany had sought to integrate the Apache’s Martin-Marietta target acquisition and night vision system (TADS/PNVS) into the Franco-German helicopter. France refused to incorporate U.S. components and was eventually able to convince Germany to adopt a European TADS/PNVS equivalent. Renewed negotiations produced an amended MoU in November 1987 which culminated in the adoption of the name “Tiger/Tigre” for the joint project as well as a developmental contract in November 1989. French and German industry drew closer to facilitate the realization of the program. The helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) continued to work on the program until they merged in 1992 to form Eurocopter.
In December 1992, the Defense Ministry rescoped the requirements of the PAH-2 variant. The resulting Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger (UHT), which translates to “Support Helicopter Tiger,” was developed as a multirole platform rather than an attack helicopter solely focused on the destruction of enemy armor. Additional missions include combat support, escort, reconnaissance and anti-aircraft roles.
A total of seven Tiger prototypes were built, including two static test articles (PT6 and PT7). On April 27, 1991, the first Tiger prototype (PT1) took flight. PT2 followed in April 1992 and featured the HAP avionics systems by 1996. PT3 flew in November of 1993 and tested UHT mission systems. PT4 was built to the HAP configuration and conducted live fire tests including eight Mistral missiles, 50 rockets and 3,000 rounds of 30mm cannon ammunition. PT5 was the last flying prototype and was equipped with the full UHT avionics package. PS1 was built as a preproduction example to test manufacturing processes. Serial production began with the German UHT S01, which flew in August 2002 and HAP S01 for the French, which flew in March 2003.
Divergent French and German requirements ensured multiple variants of the Tiger would be produced, but all variants share the same airframe with most of the differences stemming from mission systems. The base airframe is characterized by its survivability and agility.
The Tiger airframe takes a holistic approach to survivability incorporating signature reduction, durable airframe and an extensive countermeasures suite. The Tiger’s design minimizes its IR signature by mounting the engines within the fuselage. An exhaust gas dilution system further reduces emitted heat and drives exhaust up to the rotor. Radio-frequency (RF) reduction is achieved through multiple techniques. The Tiger is comparatively small relative to its contemporaries such as the AH-64 Apache. Basic shaping techniques and extensive use of composite materials further reduce the Tiger’s RF signature. Seventy-seven percent of the Tiger’s airframe weight is comprised of composite materials such as Kevlar (carbon aramid) frames and beams as well as Nomex honeycomb with carbon and Kevlar face laminates. The extensive use of composite materials reduced the Tiger’s airframe weight by 30%. An additional 11% of the aircraft’s weight is aluminum and 6% is titanium.
The airframe is built to protect the crew from vertical crashes at speeds of up to 10 ½ m per sec. (m/s) or 23 ½ mph. The floor of the cockpit and landing gear are built to absorb energy from a crash. The landing gear can accommodate a 6-m/sec. (13.4-mph) descent without sustaining damage. Hot-pressed boron carbide ceramic armor inserts are mounted in the seats to protect the crew against ballistic threats. The airframe’s armor is resistant to 23mm cannon fire. The Tiger features self-sealing fuel tanks to further improve its ballistic protection. Lastly, the Tiger’s electronics feature electromagnetic interference (EMI) protection against both lightning strikes and electromagnetic pulses.
Agility and maneuverability were also key requirements that shaped the Tiger’s design. Both qualities are essential to facilitate nap-of-the-Earth (NOE) operations–e.g. object avoidance at low altitude and to improve survivability. The Tiger has a maximum speed of 175 kt. (201 mph), can pivot 40 deg. in 1 ½ sec. and can perform a complete barrel roll in less than 5 sec.
The Tiger has three main avionics subsystems which vary depending upon the variant: electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, helmet-mounted display and countermeasures suite.
German Army Tiger UHT with its unique OSRIS mast mounted EO/IR system and nose mounted pilotage sight. Credit Maximilian Schultz, Bundeswehr
Safran produces both the mast-mounted OSIRIS and roof-mounted STRIX optronic sights for the Tiger. The OSIRIS has an effective range of about 3 to 4 mi. (5 to 7 km). The mast-mounted OSIRIS sight enhances the ability of UHT units to employ NoE operations against adversary forces. OSIRIS-equipped UHTs can position themselves behind trees or terrain such that only the mast-mounted sight is exposed, thereby minimizing the time the aircraft is exposed to the target. The UHT can fire four PARS 3 LR fire-and-forget ATGMs in 10 sec. The mast- mounted sight weighs 275 lb. (125 kg) and reduces the UHT’s maximum speed by 15 mph (25 km/hr.) when equipped.
The STRIX optronic sight is used on the HAP, ARH and HAD variants. The STRIX has an effective range of about 2 ½ mi. (4 km) and provides the crew with IR imagery, laser designation and laser spot tracking capabilities. The STRIX can traverse an azimuth of + or – 120 deg. horizontally and +40 deg. to -25 deg. vertically. Special consideration was made to integrate the GIAT 30M with the STRIX sight and fire control system. The fire control system uses imagery from the STRIX to anticipate a target’s speed, acceleration and heading. The STRIX is capable of tracking aerial targets for employment of the GIAT 30M.
Unlike other attack helicopters such as the A129 Mangusta, AH-64 Apache or Mi-28, the Tiger EO/IR sight is not mounted in the nose near the cannon. The Tiger’s comparatively small airframe meant that the installation of the 364-lb. (165- kg) THL30 turret–which houses the GIAT 30M 781 cannon as well as the feed path and stowage for 450 rounds of 30 x 113mm rounds in the nose– imposed significant space constraints for sensors. Furthermore, the nose had to be reinforced to accommodate the cannon’s significant recoil. The THL30 turret has a traverse of + or – 90 deg. horizontally and +28 deg. to -25 deg. vertically.
The French, Spanish and Australian Tigers are equipped with the Thales TopOwl Helmet-Mounted Sight Display (HMSD). TopOwl displays relevant flight and STRIX targeting data on visor across a 40- deg. field of view. A head position sensor mounted on top of the helmet allows for slewing of the main gun to match the pilot’s head movements. The HMSD also provides an integrated night vision capability.
German UHT crews are equipped with the BAE Integrated Helmet System (IHS) or Knighthelm, which provides broadly similar capabilities sans functions relating to the GIAT 30M cannon. Instead, the IHS slews the Pilot Sight Unit (PSU) with the pilot’s head movements. The PSU is a pilotage sight providing 2nd-generation FLIR imagery across a 30-deg. x 40-deg. field of view and is mounted in the nose, where the GIAT 30M is on other Tiger variants. The crew can switch between PSU FLIR imagery and night vision capability provided by the IHS.
The Electronic Warfare System (EWS) is the Tiger’s integrated passive self-protection system, which varies depending upon the variant. The EWS for the HAD consists of the following elements:
- Thales Threat Warning Equipment (TWE)–The TWE consists of two Laser Warning (LW) sensors mounted on the wing stubs as well as two Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) units. The TWE also manages all other elements of the EWS.
- Four Hensoldt AAR-60 Missile Launch Detection System (MLDS)–Two apertures are mounted in the underside of the tail boom–the housing protrudes outward for all Tiger variants. The remaining two apertures are installed in the nose of the aircraft.
- Two MBDA SAPHIR-M Countermeasure Dispenser Systems (CMDS)–Each unit can accommodate either 32 25mm expendable countermeasures (chaff or flares) or 72 19mm countermeasures.
The Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger (UHT), which translates to “Support Helicopter Tiger,” was developed for the Heer (German Army). The UHT can be visually distinguished from other Tiger variants as a result of two main features. The UHT is the only variant of the Tiger not armed with a nose- mounted cannon. However, the UHT can carry 12.7mm gun pods on its wing stub hardpoints. Second, the UHT is equipped with the OSIRIS mast-mounted sight, while other Tiger variants use the STRIX roof-mounted site. Germany's Tigers are powered by a pair of MTR390-2C engines which provide 1,187-shp each. The UHT also carries a distinct mix of weapons relative to other Tiger operators. For anti-air missions, the UHT is fitted with the Raytheon AIM-92 Stinger, which is the air-launched variant of the FIM-92 Stinger Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS). The UHT is the only variant of the Tiger to use the MBDA Panzerabwehr Raketensystem der dritten Generation mit langer Reichweite (PARS 3 LR) ATGM. The PARS 3 LR has a maximum range of 7 km and uses an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker and tandem warhead. Germany ordered 680 missiles in 2006.
In response to a series of official inquiries in 2011, the Bundeswehr was asked to explain why it had chosen not to upgrade its Tiger UHTs with 30mm cannons, given the need to support Coalition forces in Afghanistan and Mali. The Bundeswehr responded that it had drafted a set of requirements for the UHT during its development and the current design meets all of the military’s required capabilities. The Bundeswehr explained it had studied integrating the Mauser RMK 30mm cannon (now Rheinmetall RMK 30) for additional air-to-air capabilities. However, cost and technical risks outweighed the perceived benefit of a cannon. A NATO report from April 1999 states that studies to integrate a Mauser 30mm cannon were underway.
The HAP forms the baseline design from which the Tiger ARH and Tiger HAD evolved. The HAP uses the same airframe as the UHT with the addition of a 30mm cannon and STRIX roof-mounted sight. The HAP’s armament is limited to its force protection role, i.e. the HAP is not equipped with ATGMs. The HAP’s main air-to-air armament is the IR-guided MBDA MISTRAL Manpads.
The HAP’s primary air-to-ground armament are 68mm rockets, which are fired from the TELSON family of rocket pods manufactured by TDA–a Thales subsidiary which is the successor to the Société nouvelle des établissements Edgar BRANDT (SNEB) and of Thomson Brandt Armements (TBA). HAPs are usually equipped with either the TELSON 22 pod (22 68mm rockets) on the inner wing stub pylon and the TELSON 12 pod out the outer pylon. In a full rocket pod configuration, the HAP can carry a maximum of 68 rockets. TDA manufactures the ACULEUS series of rockets for the TELSON pods, including the ACULEUS P (practice), high explosive functioning on impact (HE-IMP), high explosive multimode (HE-MM, airburst) and MD-36 and MD-432 flechette rockets.
The Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) is a modified HAP for Australian requirements. Minor alterations include changes to the flight and cockpit voice recorders as well as the communications suite. The ARH Tiger’s main difference from the HAP is its integration of the AGM-114 Hellfire ATGM. Like the UHT, the ARH is equipped with 70mm (2.75-in.) rockets (NATO standard) rather than 68mm. Thales Belgium (formerly Forges de Zeebrugge) produces two pods for the UHT and ARH, the FZ-225 which has a capacity for 19 rockets, and FZ-233, which can accommodate seven rockets. In a full rocket pod configuration, the ARH can carry a maximum of 52 rockets.
The HAD was developed from the HAP and features significant improvements such as the more powerful 1,467-shp MTR390-E turboshaft engines (14% additional power over the MTR390-C), new STRIX roof-mounted optronic sight with laser designation capability, new ATGM integration (Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II for France and Rafael Spike for Spain), the ability to carry either 68mm or 70mm rockets, improved ballistic protection from Kevlar, Mode 5 identification friend or foe (IFF), and upgraded electronic warfare system. Modifying a HAP to the HAD configuration requires more than 100 airframe modifications, 1,500 new parts and 250 electrical cables. It first took flight on Dec. 14, 2007. However, the first HAD with the new engines took flight on June 30, 2009. OCCAR refers to Spanish HAD aircraft as the “HAD/E” and French aircraft as the “HAD/F.”
German Subconfigurations: Step 1 and PBL002Roscoe
Germany planned multiple subconfigurations within its UHT variant from an early stage. According to the serial production contract, the early Step 1 aircraft would be delivered on Dec. 16, 2002, but this was delayed until March 16, 2005. Step 1 aircraft lack combat capabilities and were relegated to flight and maintenance training. Germany received five Step 1 aircraft which were eventually remanufactured to the PBL-002 configuration due to the lack of spares for the early model aircraft. PBL-002 aircraft are capable of employing weapons and were delivered between 2008 and 2010.
German Subconfigurations: Step 2 and Step 2 (Krypto)
OCCAR issued the final qualification for the Step 2 standard in January 2009. Step 2 helicopters were first delivered to Germany in 2010. However, delays to the UHT’s encrypted communications suite led to the Step 2 (Krypto) configuration, also known as the “UHT Step 2/G-COM” (German COMunication) variant. The main development contract was amended to include the following subcomponents for the UHT Step 2/G-COM:
- ACVMU Integration (CP M 0098): €2.7 million ($2.98 million)
- ED4-2 Integration (CP M 0100): €2.3 million
- RF Radio Integration (CP M 0101): €0.4 million
- V/UHF Radio Integration (AMP3-0060): €6.3 million
- Additional Radios Integration (AMP3-0060): €1.8 million
Operational needs in Afghanistan led to the Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment (ASGARD) configurations: ASGARD-F (Full) and ASGARD-T (Training). The ASGARD configuration adds sand filters, mission data recorder, supplemental ballistic protection for the cockpit, improved electronic warfare suite and SATCOM communications. A dozen UHTs were upgraded to the ASGARD-F configuration between 2011 and 2012. The Bundeswehr plans to convert 33 additional UHTs to the latest ASGARD configuration such that it has a single uniform UHT fleet.
ARH Tiger Capability Assurance Program
In January 2014, the Australian Department of Defense began the Project Land 9000-Armed Reconnaissance Capability Assurance Program (CAP) to address technological obsolescence and capability issues. The 2016 Defense White Paper (DWP) estimates the ARH CAP to cost between A$500 and A$700 million ($375 to $525 million in 2019 U.S. dollars). A September 2016 report by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) questioned the unity of an ARH CAP. The DWP called for the ARH’s replacement around 2025, meaning that any CAP would only benefit the ARH fleet for a few years. Defense agreed to examine the upgrade as part of the ARH CAP’s gate zero approval process.
HAD Block 2 (Mark II)
The first HADs delivered to Spain and France were of the baseline Block 1 configuration. Block 2 aircraft began to be delivered in December 2014 for France and December 2016 for Spain. The Block 2 configuration adds an HF datalink, stores compatibility for external fuel tanks, improved man-machine-interface software, Engine Control Monitoring Unit (ECMU-B), expanded firing envelope for the Spike and Hellfire missiles, enhanced targeting for rockets and modifications for shipborne operations.
Tiger Mark III
In 2015, industry began architecture studies for the Tiger Mk.3 but delays to the program have meant that any upgrade is not likely to reach front-line service until the end of the decade . In October 2018, OCCAR signed two development contracts with Airbus as well as Thales and MBDA for development studies examining technologies for the development of a Mid-Life Upgrade (MKIII) configuration.
On November 30, 2021, Matthieu Louvot – Airbus helicopter’s vice president for programs, announced the long-awaited contract to develop the Tiger Mk.3 could be signed soon. Louvot explained, “all the systems on the aircraft were created with the helicopter in the 90s and needed upgrade”. Few details about the extent of the Mk.3 have emerged, but presentation suggested there would be changes to the electro-optical sighting systems, the addition of an enhanced vision system, improved data links and communication systems and a navigation system synchronized with Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation constellation. New weapons including guided rockets would be integrated. France has already selected a new missile to replace the AGM-114 Hellfire, the MBDA Missile Air-Surface Tactique Futur (MAST-F) developed from the Missile Moyenne Portée (Medium Range Missile, MMP). MBDA claims the new missile will weigh 20% less than competing weapons, will have a range around 8 km and new datalink. Spain is expected to opt for the Israel developed Spike. In addition to the new mission systems and avionics, the MK.3 is expected to add manned unmanned teaming with additional weapons.
Germany’s participation in the Mk. 3 remains in doubt. The country has requested information from the US government on a prospective Apache acquisition. In response to an Aviation Week media inquiry from November 2021, the German Defense Ministry stated “decision on the Mk.3 will be made in the next legislature”.
Production and Delivery History
The Tiger program has been managed by the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement (Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation, OCCAR) since 2001. OCCAR also works with the respective procurement agencies including: Délégation Générale pour l’Armement (DGA), the Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) and Dirección General de Armamento y Material (DGAM) for Spain. As of 2021, OCCAR reports the total development and production cost of the Tiger program was €8.112 billion ($9.15 billion) while in service support costs reached €2.306 billion ($2.6 billion) among the three European nations.
183 Tigers have been produced at four assembly lines in each of the operator nations: Donauwörth, Germany; Marignane, France; Albacete, Spain; and Brisbane, Australia.
In May 1984, the Armée de terre (French Army) originally sought 215 Tigersand 140 HACs for anti-armor duties and 75 HAPs for force protection. This figure would be incrementally revised downward to 120 by 1996, with 70 HAPs and 50 HACs. On June 18, 1999, France and Germany signed a production contract for 160 Tigers for €3.3 billion ($5.2 billion in 2019 U.S. dollars). France had contracted for 10 HACs and 70 HADs.
In support of exporting the Tiger to Spain, Armée de terre agreed to adopt the HAD variant. The service desired a multirole platform such as the HAD. The HAC never entered serial production. On March 18, 2005, the first Tiger HAP was delivered to the Armée de terre. In November 2005, OCCAR and Eurocopter concluded a contract for the production and development of the HAD for France and Spain. The service lowered its procurement goal to 40 Tiger HADs and 40 HAPs. The first production Tiger HAD was delivered to the DGA for evaluation on April 19, 2014. As of the time of this writing, France aims to field 70 Tiger helicopters including 31 new build HADs and 36 HAP to HAD remanufactured aircraft with the three remaining HAPs. In November 2019, France lost it Tiger airframe as a result of a noncombat incident. French budget documents project the R&D and procurement costs for the Tiger program will total €7 billion ($7.9 billion) with more than €5 billion having been spent prior to 2020.
On June 18, 1999, Germany ordered 80 UHTs as part of a joint production contract with France. A Bundestag report from 2014 listed a 1998 estimate of the total cost of the procurement of 80 UHTs, infrastructure and associated equipment as 5.691 billion deutsche marks or €2.9 billion.
First deliveries began on April 6, 2005, to the joint Franco-German helicopter training school in LeLuc, France. All operational Tigers are assigned to Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36 in Fritzlar, Germany. BAAINBw operates one to two Tigers depending upon the status of various test programs as part of the WTD 61 test squadron.
On March 15, 2013, the German MoD and Eurocopter signed an MoU which reduced the Heer’s procurement objective to 57 aircraft. Airbus would buy back 11 of the earliest model aircraft such that 68 UHTs would have been delivered and 57 would remain in service. In November 2014 the German MoD signed an amended agreement in which the Heer would keep its 11 older Tigers to use for spare parts. The Heer has lost two UHTs. One UHT was lost near Ettal, Germany while participating in training activities in March 2013. In July 2017, a single UHT was lost while supporting a UN peacekeeping operation in Mali.
On July 25, 2018, Airbus delivered the last Tiger UHT to the Bundeswehr. The service has 12 ASGARD-F-configured helicopters and plans to modify 33 additional UHTs to the ASGARD standard. As of December 2021, BAAINBw reports 53 UHTs are in service. In early 2020, the German government requested information regarding the pricing and availability of a future AH-64E purchase but the acquisition reportedly did not advance further as a result of the September 2021 German elections. The German Army has expressed frustration with the low readiness of the type, in 2018 11 UHTs were available for operations at any one time. In 2019, this number fell to just eight helicopters. The Heer is thought to be unwilling to wait until 2030 to improve O&S metrics with the entry date of the Tiger Mk. 3.
Project Air 87 Phase 1 began in February 1994 with the Australian Army starting a definition study to replace its Bell 206B-1s and UH-1Hs Iroquois fleets. The new Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) would provide an all-weather reconnaissance, airmobile escort and close air support capability with provisions for operating from ships. In 1998, the Defense Equipment Acquisition Strategy issued a requirement that the first ARH prototype should be inducted by January 2003. Australian operations in Timor at that time had highlighted the inadequacies of the Huey and Iroquois fleets in escorting Australian Army Black Hawks.
The Australian Department of Defense issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) as part of Air 87 Phase 2 in May 1998 and received six responses. Four bids were considered: the Eurocopter Tiger, Boeing AH-64, Bell AH-1Z and Augusta Westland AW129. Defense selected the Tiger as its preferred choice, followed by the AH-1Z as the second-place alternative bid. Defense believed Bell’s bid was less competitive to Eurocopter in terms of purchase price, sustainment and schedule. Following source selection, the CEO of EADS Australia Pacific Pty Ltd., Gilbert Dangleterre, explained that the Tiger was selected because of Eurocopter International Pacific’s (EIP) superior domestic industry participation and Australian requirements favored a lighter, cheaper reconnaissance helicopter rather than larger anti-tank platforms such as the Apache. Defense sought an off-the-shelf solution for Air 87 and Defense believed Tiger was a mature design following French testing.
In December 2001, the Government of Australia awarded Eurocopter International Pacific a A$1.1 billion fixed-price prime acquisition contract and a 15-year A$410.9 million through-life-support contract for 22 ARH Tigers. The contracts total was $2.293 in adjusted 2018 U.S. dollars. The acquisition contract included crew training devices, an electronic warfare support system, facilities, ammunition and supporting mission equipment.
In December 2004, the Australian Army took delivery of its first pair of Tiger ARHs. The first four aircraft were manufactured and assembled in France, with the remainder being manufactured in France and assembled in Brisbane. Deliveries concluded in December 2011, which was followed by the Army declaring Final Operational Capability (FOC) for the type in April 2016. Australian industry participation includes:
- Australian Aerospace–program management, formerly EIP
- Thales Australia–avionics
- Safran Pacific
- Sagem (now Safran) STRIX-HA slighting system
- Support of the Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 in Bankstown near Sydney
- ADI Limited–software and ground mission support equipment
- Kellogg Brown & Root Party Ltd, formerly Brown & Root Services–aircrew, technician and groundcrew training
- Simulation Australia
The ARH fleet is divided into several components. A total of eight helicopters each are assigned to 161 and 162 Squadron at Darwin (a single additional Tiger is undergoing deep maintenance from these units) and five helicopters are stationed at the Army’s Aviation Training Centere in Oakey.
On Feb. 24, 2016, Australia’s Defense White Paper (DWP) announced the Australian Army would retire and replace its Tiger fleet by the mid-2020s, a decade earlier than planned. A September 2016 report by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) details substantial issues with the ARH in Australian service, including years of delays for capability requirements, poor availability, higher-than-expected maintenance costs and obsolescence issues. For example, the ANAO reports that only 3 1/2 aircraft out of the operational component fleet of 16 were considered serviceable on any given day during 2015. A total of 76 capabilities deficiencies were identified by Defense, with 60 deemed to be critical. On Feb. 29, Australia informed France, Germany and Spain that it would pause its involvement in the Tiger Mark III Architecture Study following the DWP. As of that time, Australia had already paid Airbus €1.5 million ($1.7 million).
Australian media reported in September 2020 that the U.S. and Australia had discussed the sale of AH-64Es for $4.5 billion during the July 2020 AUSMIN summit. At the time, the Australian Army was reportedly exploring sending personnel to Ft. Rucker for Apache crew training. The Australian National Security Committee selected the AH-64E in January 2021. The Apache was selected as it offered commonality with the U.S. Army, featured greater connectivity (Blue Force Tracker IFF and Link 16), more modern avionics, greater weapons capacity, unmanned systems integration and greater through life support and modernization potential. On June 3rd, 2021, the DSCA announced the potential sale of 29 AH 64Es as well as associated equipment and support services worth $3.5 billion. Australia is expected to take delivery of its first Apache in 2025 and is expected to declare IOC between 2027 and 2028 by which time it’s Tiger fleet will have been retired.
In the late 1990s, Spain was examining candidates to replace its fleet of armed MBB/CASA Bo105 helicopters. In 2001, French, German, and Spanish defense officials began discussing the potential sale of 20 Tigers. Spain insisted that it would only adopt the Tiger if it received significant industrial participation. Spain’s Tigers would have additional capabilities–such as more powerful engines and integration of the new Trigat LP (Panzerabwehr Raketensystem der dritten Generation mit langer Reichweite or “PARS-3 LR” ATGM)–and one of the existing European operators would adopt this new Tiger variant. The latest Tiger would be called the Hélicoptère d'Appui Destruction (HAD) in French or Helicoptero de Apoyo y Destrucción in Spanish.
The French agreed to adopt the HAD at a later date, which paved the way for Spanish approval of the purchase by the summer of 2002. In September 2003, the Ejército de Tierra or ET (Spanish Army) formally selected the Eurocopter Tiger. Eurocopter was awarded a €1.515 billion ($1.78 billion dollars) contract for 24 Tiger HADs with options for an additional six helicopters.
In order to train Spanish pilots, six HAPs were delivered between December 2005 and 2010 to be used for pilot training, with the intention to remanufacture these airframes to the HAD standard. As a result of budgetary pressures, Spain opted to keep its HAPS. In 2007, Spain decided to equip its HADs with the Rafael Spike-ER following a selection process which also evaluated the PARS 3 LR and the AGM-114. Spain ordered 2,600 missiles for $425 million ($530 million). Spain received its first HAD in December 2014. Spain took delivery of its last HAD Block 2 in January 2020. As of the time of this writing, Spain had received all 18 HADs for a total fleet of 24 Tigers.