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Eurocopter’s EC665 Tiger HAD Helicopters

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Tiger HAP, HAC

Tiger HAP & HAC
(click to view full)

Eurocopter’s Tiger had always had a very odd setup in that it came in two seemingly incomplete versions (HAP scout and HAC/UHT anti-tank), whose respective deficiencies severely limited multi-role flexibility and hence exports. The new Tiger HAD (Helicoptere Appui Destruction) variant fixes those deficiencies, and looks set to become the default version for new-build EC665 Tiger exports.

The HAD project began in December 2005, as the EU’s OCCAR organization for armament cooperation signed a formal contract in Bonn, Germany and set out initial procurement numbers for Spain. This was followed by the French DGA’s announcing the restructuring of its own 80-helicopter order, and each customer has made its own choices as the new variant has gone from concept to initial delivery.

EC665 Tiger Species

EC665 Tiger: MTR390 maintenance

MTR390 maintenance
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The Tiger is the first all-composite helicopter developed in Europe, with a fuselage made from 80% carbon fibre-reinforced polymer and kevlar, 11% aluminium, and 6% titanium. The helicopter comes in different versions, however, and it was the shortcomings of the initial versions that pushed Eurocopter toward Tiger HAD.

All Tiger helicopters use a common airframe, which can be mistaken for AgustaWestland’s A129 at first glance. Tiger helicopters lack the A129’s nose-mounted sensors (sometimes substituting a gun in their place) or the 5-bladed rotor of the A129I, however, and feature a “hunchback” over the engines and winglets on the tail stabilizer.

A pair of compact Rolls Royce/ Turbomeca MTR390 engines deliver 1,285shp each, driving the Tiger to 124 knot (142 mph/ 237 kph) cruise speed and a 145 knot (167mph/ 277 kph) speed when armed. The cockpit is the digital “glass cockpit” one expects in modern aircraft, displaying instrument information, pictures from the sensors, moving digital maps, GPS navigation, et. al. Thales TopOwl helmet-mounted sights project most critical information right onto the pilot’s field of view, however, including weapon and sighting controls. Defensively, EADS electronic warfare suite, which also equips the NH90 medium helicopter, is used for most Tiger variants. It includes a radar warning receiver, laser warner, MILDS AN/AAR-60 missile launch detector, and MBDA’s SAPHIR-M chaff / flare dispenser, all tied together through a Thales central processing unit.

The French Tiger HAP

Tiger HAP

Tiger HAP
(click to view full)

The French HAP version is intended to be a scout and escort helicopter. It incorporates Mistral anti-aircraft missiles, a 30mm chin turret from Nexter, and 68mm SNEB unguided rockets. Unlike the Franco-German HAC/UHT version, however, the HAP lacked Sagem’s Osiris mast-mounted sight/designator that could be so useful to a scout helicopter, substituting a roof-mounted Sagem Strix sight instead.

The other thing it lacks is laser-designation capability for guided rockets, or the ability to fire anti-tank missiles. While the HAP has an extra 10 knots of full speed when armed, and better climb and hover characteristics than its HAC/UHT counterpart, its configuration sharply limits the helicopter’s usefulness. The HAP variant has since become an orphan with a cut-down buy from France, and no exports.

It is built in Eurocopter’s Marignane, France facility.

The German Tiger UHT

short SEO-friendly description

Tiger HAC/ UHT
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The HAC/UHT anti-tank version has the improved Osiris mast-mounted sights and can fire HOT-3 or Trigat/PARS-3 anti-tank missiles, American FIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, 70mm Hydra rockets, or 12.7mm gun pods. An improved Tiger ASGARD variant was fielded as part of ISAF operations in Afghanistan as of December 2012. It incorporates sand filters, additional defensive systems, a mission data recorder, satellite communications, and upgraded 1,467 shp MTR390-E engines for operation in Afghanistan’s lift-sapping high altitudes and heat.

What the German Tiger lacks is a chin turret and cannon, with its obvious applications against trucks and light armored vehicles. That’s a strange omission for an anti-tank helicopter, and Germany is the only customer for this variant. It is built at Eurocopter’s facility in Donauworth, Germany.

The bottom line? The national requirements of France and Germany left each country with a variant whose basic deficiencies made them unexportable. It wasn’t until export customers demanded a fully multi-role scout and attack helicopter that Eurocopter began to field competitive platforms.

Fixing the Tiger: From ARH to HAD

Tiger ARH Over Canberra

Tiger ARH
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Australia’s Tiger ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) version is a modified Tiger HAP with a Nexter 30mm cannon, and a laser designator incorporated in the roof-mounted Sagem Strix sight. That allows the firing of Hellfire II laser-guided anti-armor missiles, and gives Australia the option of adding laser-guided rockets as well. The helicopter carries the Hellfire’s M299 “smart” launchers, and adds the ability to carry 70mm rockets and American Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Finally, Tiger ARH contains various changes to incorporate equipment that’s compatible with Australian communications, and items that come from Australian manufacturers.

The first Tiger ARH took its maiden flight in February 2004, and deliveries on the 22-helicopter order began in December 2004. Tiger ARH has entered service with Australia’s military, but it has experienced issues. It will not be covered in this article.

Tiger HAD Test

Tiger HAD test
(click to view full)

Tiger HAD was the next step, and seems likely to form the basis for all subsequent exports.

Tiger HAD builds on ARH advances, adding upgraded MTR390-E engines rated at 1,467shp each, ban IFF interrogator function, and improved ballistic protection. The Spanish version substitutes an electronic warfare/warning system from Indra, in place of EADS’ EWS.

Weapon carriage is also broadened, and includes a Nexter 30M781 30mm turret, 68mm or 70mm rockets, MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles, and RAFAEL/Eurospike Spike-ER or Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II anti-armor missiles.

The 2005 contract modification that created Tiger HAD involved the Spanish DGAM (Direccion General de Armamento y Material), French DGA (Direction Generale de l’Armement) and German BWB (Bundesamt fur Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung). The agreement covers the development and production investments in Tiger HAD for both Spain and France, helicopter production for Spain and France, and the retrofit of Tiger HAPs to HAD status for Spain.

French trials

France’s fleet will include 40 earlier-model HAP escort and support versions and 40 HAD versions. Alex Youngs of Rolls Royce (who make the Tiger’s MTR390 engines) confirmed that this was just a restructuring of their existing order from 70 HAP escort/scout + 10 HAC/UHT attack helicopters to 40 HAP escort/scout + 40 HAD multi-role helicopters. The 1st French Tiger HAD was scheduled for delivery in late 2010, and was actually delivered early, in March 2010.

Spain has ordered 24 Tiger HAD/E helicopters: 18 new, and 6 Tiger HAP-to-HAD/E upgrades. A 2013 decision by the Spanish government will put 6 of the helicopters up for sale on the global market, as a way to cut the military’s budget without paying contract cancellation fees.

France’s Tiger HADs are built in Marignane, France. Spain’s Tiger HAD/Es are built in Albacete, Spain.

These contracts bring the total number of Tiger helicopters ordered through the EU’s OCCAR armament cooperation agency to 172: 68 helicopters for Germany (UHT, cut from 80), 80 for France (40 HAP, 40 HAD) and 24 for Spain (HAD/E). A total of 17 EC665 helicopters are designated for the resale pool: 11 Tiger UHTs from Germany (so 57 operational), and 6 Tiger HAD/E from Spain (so 18 operational).

Australia’s 22 Tiger ARH helicopters weren’t ordered through OCCAR, and subsequent exports are also likely to be beyond OCCAR’s ambit.

Contracts & Related Events

2014 – 2019

HAD Block 2.

French Tiger HAD

French Tiger HAD

July 11/19: Aussie Tiger Replacement The Australian government has issued a request for information (RfI) for a replacement of the Australian Army’s fleet of Airbus Helicopters ARH Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters. The Australian Department of Defense’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group is seeking information to acquire a total of 29 airframes under the Land 4503 program. Of these 29, 24 are to be based at a single location, with a further five to be used for training operations. The timelines for the program anticipate an initial operating capability (IOC) of a squadron of 12 aircraft by 2026, with full operational capability (FOC) from 2028.

April 25/19: Deployed to Malaysia Australia deployed its Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, Jane’s reports. On April 21, four Australian Army Tiger helicopters were airlifted to the Royal Malaysian Air Force Air Base at Subang on a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter for joint training exercises with Malaysia. The Tiger is designed to perform armed reconnaissance, air or ground escort, air-to-air combat, ground fire support, destruction and anti-tank warfare, day or night and in adverse conditions. The exercises mark a major milestone for the helicopter given that until very recently Australian auditors were recommending that it not be operated aboard ships due to performance limitations.

December 14/18: German crash report The 2017 crash of a German army Tiger helicopter in Mali which resulted in the death of two crew members was caused by a mechanic’s error, a German defense ministry report claims. A mistake during a rotor blades configuration led to the autopilot automatically turning itself off when the pilot pointed the Eurocopter Tiger’s nose towards the ground. This caused the disintegration of the main rotor blade, leaving the crew with “no chance to avoid the accident,” according to the report. The Tiger helicopter had been serviced by Airbus team which apparently forgot to set the blades’ airflow angle correctly. As the helicopter was flying roughly 155 mph at an altitude of 1640 ft over the Gao desert, the Tiger’s autopilot switched itself off believing that it had recognized a manual override, leading the helicopter to tilt forwards abruptly. Once the vehicle had started to descend, parts of the aircraft broke off, including the main rotor blades.

December 7/18: Simulator upgrade The Franco-German training academy (EFA) in Le Cannet-des-Maures in South-East France is now equipped with a fully upgraded Eurocopter Tiger simulation system. The system has been configured to train aircrews of France’s Tiger HAD combat support variant and Germany’s UHT Step 2 anti-tank and fire support variant. Work is being done as part of the Tiger Aircrew Training Means (TATM) program that started in December 2014. Performed by Thales and Rheinmetall, upgrade work included new cockpit configurations, displays and avionics for both variants and new weapons systems for the HAD version. Awarded by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation, the program also includes a support package for all 20 simulators in service until 2025.

October 25/18: AUS Trials Jane’s reports that the Royal Australian Navy is one step closer towards fully qualifying the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) on board its Canberra-class amphibious assault ships. The service recently held a number of maintenance and flight trials on board HMAS Canberra, testing the helicopter as an embarked platform. Australia’s Tiger version is a modified Tiger in its French HAP variant, equipped with a Nexter 30mm cannon, and a laser designator incorporated in the roof-mounted Sagem Strix sight. The helicopter can fire Hellfire II, Stingers and 70 mm rockets. The Tigers will provide the amphibious assault ship with forward scouting, strike capabilities.

October 15/18: OCCAR go-ahead Flight Global reports that OCCAR is moving forward to upgrade the fleet of Tiger attack helicopters. The European defense procurement agency has placed two multinational de-risking contracts that are directly linked to the planned mid-life upgrade program for the Tiger. The program consists of a series of agreements with Airbus, MBDA and Thales and is conducted on behalf of France, Germany and Spain, which currently have 136 Tigers in their fleets. The program will bring the Tiger to an enhanced Mk III standard that sees for the integration of new avionics and an improved weapon system. OCCAR currently plans to reintroduce the first modernised helicopter to operational use between 2025 and 2026.

October 1/18: Research Airbus is being commissioned to conduct de-risking studies aimed at providing the Eurocopter Tiger with next generation battlefield capabilities, on behalf of French, German and Spanish armament agencies. The Tiger is the first all-composite helicopter developed in Europe and comes in different variants. The French HAP version is intended to be a scout and escort helicopter. The German HAC/UHT anti-tank version can fire Stingers, Hydra rockets, anti-tank missiles but lacks a chin turret and cannon. The new Tiger HAD variant was developed to fix those deficiencies, and may become the default version for new-build EC665 Tiger exports. Airbus will now prepare the development and retrofit phases of the new avionics, mission, and weapon systems that will be incorporated onto the new Tiger.

March 2/18: Mali Crash An investigation into the crash of a Tiger helicopter operated by the German military in Mali has ruled out an external attack or weather factors as the fatal accident’s cause. Military officials briefed a German parliamentary defense committee on Wednesday on the latest finding about the crash that killed both crew members during a peacekeeping mission in the West African nation’s desert north last July. In a letter to lawmakers, seen by Reuters, State Secretary Markus Gruebel said the investigation had also found no evidence of malfunction in the aircraft’s rotors or engine. Instead, the investigation has focused on “striking aberrations in the longitudinal control system” of the helicopter, which “significantly limited” the motion of its elevator axis, causing its autopilot to shut off, but had not determined how they occurred. The aberration was not found in other German Tigers. Manufacturer Airbus said the investigation was ongoing and it was too early to draw conclusions about potential root causes.

February 15/18: Spain & Germany-Rocket Sales Thales Group announced Tuesday that both the Spanish and German armed forces have selected the French firm to provide rockets for their respective Tiger helicopter fleets. The deals will see Germany acquire 10,000 70mm/2.75″ training rockets to further the training of its UH Tiger units, while Spain will receive 1,000 rockets for defensive use by its Tiger HAD-E fleet. Spain operates the latest 70mm NATO standard rocket onboard its Tiger HAD-Es, which come fitted with four light weight composite rocket pods, two of 19 tubes (FZ225) combined with two of 7 tubes (FZ233), able to carry a mixed loading of practice and high explosive warhead. Spain’s Tigers are currently deployed to Mali, where they are serving on an ongoing UN-peacekeeping mission.

September 25/17: German military authorities have agreed to lift a ban on Tiger helicopter operations after a helicopter crashed while on UN deployment in Mali. However, the flights are being resumed with certain conditions such as restrictions on speed, weight and usage of autopilot system. A preliminary investigation into the wreckage of the downed helicopter did not point to a specific cause of the crash, but more thorough examinations are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks. Earlier this month, manufacturer Airbus warned Tiger pilots to be careful of rapid switches from autopilot to manual mode during turbulence, after initial indications showed that such a switch may have played a role in the July crash that killed both crew members.

August 15/17: In the wake of a German Tiger helicopter crash in Mali, its manufacturer Airbus has declared all variants of the attack helicopter as unsafe. The announcement was made in a company safety bulletin issued on Aug. 11, and stated that the firm cannot propose a protective measure as it “can neither identity the part, the failure of which would lead to the accident, nor the origin of the failure (design, manufacturing, maintenance).” Since the issuing of the bulletin, Australia has grounded its Tiger fleet, with only essential flights being flown. The German Defense Ministry said that its military authorities were working closely with UN officials, the manufacturer and other countries that operate the helicopters, however, fear that the investigation into the Mali crash could take months.

August 10/17: The crash of a German army Tiger helicopter in Mali which resulted in the death of two crew members was caused by the rotorcraft losing its rotor, a defense ministry report has revealed. While the report stated that it is still to early to speculate on the cause of the accident, it ruled out that the helicopter was downed in an attack, adding that “once the vehicle had started to descend, parts of the aircraft broke off, including the main rotor blades.” This could potentially mean that the cause of the in-air break up was due to maintenance or manufacturing issues, which if it is the case, could be bad news for manufacturer Airbus. Berlin’s decision to send four Tigers alongside four NH-90 helicopters to aid a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali earlier this year proved controversial with some lawmakers, after the Tiger required extra maintenance given the high heat and other environmental conditions in the desert country. Officials maintain that up until the incident, all four Tigers had been operating without issue.

January 13/17: Early work on Tiger Mk III helicopter upgrades by the European defense procurement agency, the OCCAR, has commenced, although there is uncertainty over Australia’s participation in the project. Set up by Germany, the UK, France, and Italy, the OCCAR is in charge of the Tiger modernization program, and while Australia is not one of its members, it was hoped that Canberra, with a 22 Tiger fleet, would commit to the effort. Canberra, however, has expressed frustration with the rotorcraft, even hinting that they may ditch the Tiger in the mid-2020s. France, Germany and Spain are currently heavily involved in the program’s definition phase, which includes avionics and weapons overhauls, including the Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire and Rafael Spike, used by the Tiger’s European operators.

February 29/16: Australia is to replace its fleet of Tiger helicopters by the mid-2020s which could include a mix of manned and unmanned rotorcraft. The troubled history of the Tiger and the essential upgrades required to retain combat effectiveness was highlighted in the government’s recently released 2016 defense whitepaper. Canberra plans to acquire systems equipped with effective armed reconnaissance abilities, and capable of integration with joint forces. Other plans include obtaining “light helicopters” that can be easily transported aboard the Boeing C-17 strategic transport for use supporting Special Forces operations.

Dec 10/14: France. Airbus delivers the first 2 HAD Block 2 Tigers that will be operated by the French Army’s GAMSTAT aero-mobility group, then assigned to the 1st Army Combat Helicopter Regiment located at the Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base in Eastern France.

Nov 21/14: France. The DGA procurement agency qualified the HAD Block 2 Tiger for the French Army. So far they have received 46 Tiger helos, 40 of which are in HAP version to be converted to HAD over time. Block 2 qualification improves rocket targeting, and adds external fuel tanks, support for Spike and Hellfire anti-tank missiles, and digital communications. Airbus says these helos are also be navalized. Source: DGA, “Qualification finale du Tigre en version appui-destruction (HAD).”

March 6/14: Germany. The German Army receives the last of 12 Tiger UHT helicopters modified to the ASGARD (Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment) configuration.

2011 – 2013

Export opportunities; Delivered and Certified in France; Spain looking to sell 8 of 24 helicopters.

July 30/13: The initial Tiger HAD/E variant assembled at Eurocopter’s Spanish facilities in Albacete, Spain, makes its 1st flight. Albacete makes the Tiger’s rear fuselage sections, but full assembly is a new step – Spain’s HAD/E testing prototype had been assembled in Marignane, France, as were all 6 of Spain’s Tiger HAP/E helicopters.

HAD/E-5002 will be the first machine to enter service with the Spanish Army’s FAMET, with delivery planned by the end of 2013.

EADS’ release cites other partners, including ITP/MTRI consortium (MRT390-E engine), Indra, Amper, ELIMCO, Aernnova, TECHNOBIT, DMP (Desarrollos Mecanicos de Precision), Sacesa, and Celestica. EADS.

July 26/13: Spain. The Spanish government approves an extra EUR 877.33 million (about $1.165 billion) in their 2013 budget, in order to finance payments that have come due on several major weapons programs. The Tiger HAD/E is one of them, and will receive EUR 88.26 million. Spain’s Spike missile programs will receive another EUR 34.5 million.

At the same time, in order to finance investments in their troubled S-80 submarine program, and purchases of their Pizarro (ASCOD) tracked IFVs, Spain will look to cut other programs – and the Tiger is also one of those. The contract is already signed, penalties make pull-out too expensive, so 6 of the 24 are now designated for second-hand sale. Other cuts include selling 13 of 27 A400M aerial transports, and reducing the number of serving Leopard 2A6E tanks from 190 – 116. Sources: Defense-Aerospace | Publico [in Spanish].

Jan 25/13: Certified. France’s DGA bestows military type certification on the Tiger HAD. Certification is an often-overlooked aspect of delivering combat ready gear, and several helicopters (incl. the NH90 and Mh-92) have seen multi-year delays while that get sorted out. French DGA [in French].

French military certification

Dec 5/11: Malaysia. Eurocopter includes the Tiger in its LIMA 2011 presence, including a flying display. Malaysia is expected to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for attack helicopters, and Eurocopter has a local subsidiary. EADS.

June 4/12: Korea. South Korea announces the finalists for its AH-X attack helicopter program, but the Tiger isn’t on their list. Eurocopter is KAI’s partner for South Korea’s Surion medium helicopter program, but that didn’t seem to help them here.

The finalists are AgustaWestland/TAI’s T-129, Bell Helicopter’s AH-1Z, and Boeing’s AH-64. In the end, the ROK picks the AH-64E Apache Guardian. Defense Update.

Oct 19/11: Korea. Eurocopter indicates its interest in participating in South Korea’s planned 2012 RFPs for helicopters. They’re proposing the AS565 Panther platform for the Light Attack Helicopter (LAH) program and the EC665 Tiger for the Heavy Attack Helicopter (AH-X) program. EADS.

2008 – 2010

Missile orders; Tiger HAD testing.

Tiger HAD w Spike

Tiger HAD w. Spike
(click to view full)

Dec 17/10: France. The first pre-serial Tiger HAD (fire support and destruction) for France makes its maiden flight from Eurocopter’s plant in Marignane, France. During the next several months, Eurocopter will conduct joint testing and development flights of the French and Spanish Tiger HAD. EADS.

Sept 16/10: Testing. The first Tiger HAD begins its 15 month flight test program at Eurocopter’s Albacete, Spain facility. This is the first time that Eurocopter Spain has taken on the responsibility for testing a helicopter prototype.

Block 1 qualification is scheduled for December 2011, and includes Mistral and Spike missile firings. The first production Tiger HAD helicopters are scheduled for delivery early 2012. EADS | Eurocopter.

April 10-19/10: Delivery. The Tiger HAD variant is qualified by the French DGA procurement agency on April 10th, and officially delivered on April 19th. EADS.

1st delivery

June 30/09: Engines. A Tiger helicopter powered by 2 of the new MTR390-E prototype engines successfully completes its maiden flight. The MTR390-E is being developed by MTRI GmbH, a German joint venture that includes MTU Aero Engines, Safran Group’s Turbomeca, Rolls-Royce and ITP. In the Turbomeca release, MTRI Managing Director Clemens Linden says that:

“The MTR390-E engine will further enhance the performances of the Tiger under demanding flight conditions, providing power growth of 14 per cent for missions in ‘hot and high’ environmental conditions in which the new HAD helicopter will be operated. All of this is possible using the same engine architecture, envelope and installation interfaces.”

Sept 11/08: Testing. EADS Eurocopter announces that it successfully completed a firing campaign using the Spike air-to-ground missile, at the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology’s (INTA El Arenosillo firing range in Spain. EADS reports that Spain is still on track to receive its first helicopters from 2011 onward.

During the Spike tests in El Arenosillo, 7 missiles were fired: 5 without their main propulsion units, and the other 2 in lock on before launch (LOBL) mode and then lock on after launch (LOAL) modes at targets 6-8 km away. The first 5 firings validated integration with the Tiger HAD, and safe separation with the booster in hover and in forward flight. The 2 full firings hit their targets.

Feb 6/08: Sensors. The SAFRAN Group’s Sagem Defense Securité received an order from OCCAR for roof-mounted STRIX surveillance and targeting systems that will equip all 64 Tiger HAD helicopters ordered by France and Spain. The first deliveries will take place in 2009. The Strix also equips Tiger HAP and ARH helicopters, but Germany’s Tiger UHT/HAC uses Sagem’s Osiris mast-mounted sight instead. Sagem release.

Feb 6/08: Weapons. Spain announces a series of Tiger-related contracts:

Sas Tda Armements of France received EUR 3.7 million for 68 mm rockets.

Nexter received a small EUR 765,000 contract for 30mm ammunition to equip the Tiger HAD’s gun.

MBDA France receives a EUR 27.7 million contract for Mistral II ATAM anti-aircraft missiles to equip Spain’s 24 Tiger HADs. See also Sept 7/07 entry.

Feb 4/08: Weapons. France and Lockheed Martin sign a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for Hellfire II missiles, which will equip France’s Tiger HAD helicopters. Numbers and costs are not disclosed, but Defense News reports that the French received identical pricing to the USA’s Hellfire II Buy 13 contract, which bought 4,622 missiles for $305.9 million on behalf of the USA and Britain. That’s about $66,200 per missile. The contract covers “multiple warhead variants,” and the semi-active laser homing Hellfire II has 4 warhead options: AGM-114K high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT); AGM-114M blast fragmentation; AGM-114K-A HEAT and blast fragmentation; and the AGM-114N metal augmented charge (thermobaric) warhead.

As an interesting side note, Defense News adds that France is also running a competition for its next long-range infantry missile, between the American Javelin, Israel’s Spike-LR, and MBDA’s Milan-ER. A winner is expected in 2009. Lockheed Martin release | Defense News report.

Jan 28/08: Weapons. General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas operations in Spain signs a EUR 40 million (about $64 million) contract with the Spanish Army for the supply of 44 Air Land Spike-ER Missile System launchers and 200 missiles for Spain’s Tiger HAD helicopters. In addition, General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas will provide integrated logistics support (ILS). Work is expected to be complete by 2012. GD release.

2005 – 2007

Tiger HAD contract; France (Hellfire) & Spain (Spike-ER) pick different anti-armor missiles; 1st flight.

Tiger HAD testing

Spanish testing
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Dec 14/07: The first flight of the HAD version of the Tiger (HAD S/N 5001) takes place at Eurocopter’s Marignane, France headquarters on schedule. This flight enables the start of the flight test period. HAD S/N 5001 is the first serial HAD for Spain, and will be transferred to Eurocopter España in 2009. The HAD version will be qualified end 2010, and deliveries to France and Spain are expected to begin in 2010. Eurocopter release.

1st flight

Nov 30/07: Weapons. The Spanish Council of Ministers sets aside EUR 44 million over 6 years (2007-2012) to buy Spike-ER missiles as their Tiger HAD helicopters’ primary anti-armor weapon. See DID coverage.

Spain picks Spike-ER missiles

Sept 7/07: Weapons. The Spanish Council of Ministers sets aside EUR 27.7 million over 5 years (2007-2011) to buy MBDA Mistral ATAM anti-aircraft missiles for its Tiger helicopters. Mistral is already in service with Spanish Army, airborne, and Marines units as a man-portable air defense missile, and equips earlier Tiger versions. See DID coverage.

June 4/07: Weapons. Lockheed announces that the French have selected their Hellfire II missile to equip French Tiger HAD helicopters. The European Trigat missile was originally supposed to fill that role, but Germany’s withdrawal from the program killed it.

The Australian Tiger ARH is another Tiger variant equipped with the Hellfire II missile; for the French competition, Lockheed Martin is teamed with MBDA, which will integrate the Hellfire missile launcher onto the Tiger and provide technical support. Original semi-cryptic announcement | June 18th Paris Air Show announcement.

France picks Hellfire missiles

Naval test

Naval trials
(click to view full)

May 21 – June 7/07: Testing. Under the supervision of Eurocopter and the French DGA procurement agency, a Tiger HAP helicopter takes part in navalization trials on a Siroco Class LSD amphibious ship and a Lafayette Class frigate, in extremely severe weather that includes 6-meter (19 foot) swells, winds close to 100 km/h, and deck angles up to 12 degrees. Eurocopter Australian Aerospace release

The trials are successful, with strong implications for French and Spanish employment of their Tiger HAD helicopters – and for Australia’s Tiger ARH, now that Australia has ordered 2 new Canberra Class LHDs based on Spain’s BPE ship.

Jan 10/07: Spain. RAFAEL and General Dynamics Santa Barbara Systems of Spain announce a $424.5 million contract with the Spanish Army for 2,600 SPIKE-LR missiles and 260 launchers. This decision makes an accompanying air-launched buy much more likely – which is exactly what happens in November 2007. RAFAEL release [MS Word format] | General Dynamics release.

Dec 15/06: Weapons. France’s DGA procurement agency has wrapped up testing of the Tiger ARH and Hellfire II missile at the Woomera Testing Range in South Australia. Successful testing will confirm a template for adding Hellfire capability to the new Tiger HAD. Gizmag.

June 30/06: Turkey loss. Turkey shortlists 2 helicopters for their attack helicopter competition: AgustaWestland’s A129, and Denel’s Rooivalk. The Tiger was reportedly eliminated on cost grounds, and Kamov/IAI’s Ka-50/52 Erdogan also failed to make the shortlist.

Turkey eventually chooses the A129, whose production line is moved entirely to Turkey. Read “Turkey Finally Lands Its Attack Helicopters” for full coverage.

Loss in Turkey

Dec 5/05: The inaugural Tiger HAD contract is signed between Eurocopter and the EU’s OCCAR armament cooperation organization in Bonn, Germany. This inaugural Tiger HAD contract involves the Spanish DGAM (Direccion General de Armamento y Material), French DGA (Direction Generale de l’Armement) and German BWB (Bundesamt fur Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung). It covers the development and production of Tiger HAD for both Spain (18) and France (40), and the retrofit of 6 Spanish Tiger HAPs to HAD status.

This agreement supersedes the ITP (instruction to proceed) signed on Dec 8/04, which had officially launched the HAD (Helicoptere Appui Destruction) version of the Tiger. EADS.

Contract: 40 France,
24 Spain

Additional Readings

OCCAR – Tiger – A New Generation of Helicopters

Eurocopter – Tiger

Rolls Royce – MTR390. Engine.

Sagem – Optronic Sights. Covers both Osiris and Strix.

Thales – TopOwl. Helmet-Mounted Sights. They also serve on American AH-1Z and South African Rooivalk attack helicopters, on armed USMC UH-1Y utility helicopters, and on the V-22 Osprey.

WIRED Beyond the Beyond (June 22/11) – Augmented Reality: Thales TopOwl helmet. AR is a new feature.

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