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TIGER – A New Generation of Helicopters
The TIGER Programme
The TIGER helicopter is a new generation multi-role combat helicopter fully developed in Europe and currently in service in France, Germany, Spain and Australia. It was designed from a common platform complemented with different elements building a number of variants tailored to the customer requirements.
The TIGER programme was initially a programme between France and Germany for the acquisition of anti-tank and support helicopter systems in response to common military requirements. Three versions were initially identified: HAP (Hélicoptère d’appui et protection), HAC (Hélicoptère anti Char) for France and the PAH2 (Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 2).
In 2014 and 2015, Nations decided to adapt their fleet with the following consequences:
• Germany reduced its target from 80 to 68 UHT helicopters.
• France reduced its HAD target from 40 to 31 but in the meantime decided to retrofit 36 HAPF into HADF to have one common standard fleet.
• And Spain decided not to retrofit their 6 initial HAP to get a fleet of 6 HAP and 18 HAD.
The Programme was placed under OCCAR responsibility since its legal status was achieved in 2001.
In 2004, Spain joined the programme and its specific requirements for the platform led to the definition of a new version: HAD (Helicóptero de Ataque y Destrucción).
Finally, France contracted 40 HAP and 40 HAD (HAC variant was cancelled), Germany 80 UHT (Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger) and Spain 24 HAD.
In 2001, the Australian Government ordered 22 TIGER helicopters in the variant ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter).
The co-operation with Australia, has been formalized in 2009, granting Australia an Observer Status in the TIGER programme.
For optimising the commonalties and reducing the costs, all versions of the TIGER have been developed from a common "basic helicopter". The "basic helicopter" corresponds to the vehicle development and to the basic avionics. It includes a GPS/Doppler navigation system coupled with a digital map generator. An accurate automatic flight control system with sophisticated upper modes allows decreasing the pilot workload in adverse conditions. Additionally, IFF, electronic counter measure, radio communication and radio navigation are managed by the basic system.
The TIGER is manufactured by Airbus Helicopters and is built in three different European versions at three different Final Assembly Lines in Germany, France and Spain.
Nations have initiated the discussions regarding the Tiger mid-life upgrade with the aim to have the first H/C delivered in this up-to-date standard by 2025/2026.
- The extensive use of composite materials (nearly 80% of the airframe) significantly reduces the weight thus allowing an extended combat range which can be increased by additional fuel tanks.
- The tandem seat configuration with the gunner located in the back seat offers the pilot optimal visibility,
- Optimized ergonomic settings.
- Sophisticated Man-Machine-Interface (MMI) features which improves the crews’ situational awareness and is fully adapted to mission fulfillment in all situations
• High maneuverability and agility:
The four bladed rigid rotor and an accurate automatic flight control system with sophisticated upper modes provide the TIGER with an extraordinary maneuverability . The power is granted through the engines MTR390-2C specifically designed for the TIGER by MTR (consortium created by MTU, Turbomeca and Rolls Royce). There is an enhanced version (E) of the engines to be initially installed in the HAD variant. This version of the engine provides an additional 14% of power.
• High Survivability:
Provided by Kevlar ballistic protection (against 23 mm fire), self sealing tanks, system redundancies and segregation, chaff & flares dispenser, high crashworthiness.
• Mission Effectiveness:
- Advanced firing controls and modular weapons system (air-to-ground, air-to-air, short, mid and long range capabilities),
- Passive Electronic Warfare System, mode 5 Identifier Friend Foe, state of the art Radio Communication System,
- Low “detectability” (flat and narrow silhouette, suppression of thermal radiation, low radar IR signature, passive weapon system, capable to operate with nil laser and
- Last generation reconnaissance systems, Roof Mounted Sight (RMS) and Mast Mounted Sight (MMS) with infra red and CCD TV cameras, multi-function displays, heads-up displays, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), night vision system and Datalinks systems.
• Logistic requirements:
Already deployed in two different theaters (land and sea), the TIGER has proven its capability to be operated without heavy infrastructures and low maintenance manpower maintaining an optimal availability.
• Technical data:
|Empty Weight / Maxi Take-off Weight||3.1 t / 6.6 t|
|Endurance||5 h (With external fuel tanks)|
|Range (with ext. tanks)||1300 km|
|Flight envelope||- 30ºC to ISA + 35º. -1,640 ft to 13,123 ft.|
The TIGER Variants
The HAP and UHT are in service since 2005. The HAD variant was launched later, with a qualification to be achieved in 2014. As of today more than 65 flying European TIGERs and 22 Australian ARH have been produced and delivered to customers.
HAP (France and Spain)
The HAP is an escort and close air support helicopter for the French and Spanish Armies, featuring also air-to-air capability. In this combat support role, its 30 mm turreted gun offers air-to-ground short range firing capability, complemented by the 68 mm rockets for medium to long range and the possibility to target air threats with the MISTRAL missile.
The French version of this TIGER has continuously been deployed in Afghanistan since 2009; it also proved its precise and versatile combat capabilities in the Lybian conflict in 2011. Operating from the French assault vessel “Tonnerre”, the HAP presented remarkable deployment flexibility not only from shore but also under the challenging weather and naval circumstances off-shore.
The HAP “STRIX” roof-mounted sight provides a gyro stabilized platform with an infrared camera, charge coupled device television camera, a laser rangefinder and direct optical sight.
Main Missions: Force Protection, Air-to-Air
- Chin-mounted 30 mm gun
- MISTRAL air-to-air missiles
- 68 mm air-to-ground rockets
Other Capabilities: STRIX Roof Mounted Sight
Originally designed for typical cold-war anti-tank mission, the German Unterstützungshubschrauber TIGER (UHT) features a high-end mission equipment package with high-performance mast-mounted sight coupled to TRIGAT – Pars 3 LR air-to-ground missile.
The 12.7 mm gun pods under the UHT wings as well as 70 mm rockets and HOT missiles present striking short range arguments as well. The air self-defence is ensured by STINGER missiles.
The German TIGER accomplished its deployment to Afghanistan in the frame of the Stabilisation German Army Rapid Deployment (ASGARD) from December 2012 to June 2014. A selected number of TIGERs have been modified with regards to additional ballistic protection, engine air particle separation, mission data recorder, SatCom and various software improvements.
Main Mission: Force Protection, Air-To-Ground/Anti Tank
- 12.7 mm wing gun pods
- STINGER air-to-air missiles
- HOT/TRIGAT air-to-ground missiles
- 70 mm HYDRA air-to-ground rockets
Other Capabilities: OSIRIS Roof Mounted Sight
HAD (France, Spain)
Following the entry of Spain on the TIGER Programme in 2004, a major improvement of mission capabilities was launched under the HAD variant with the integration of two air-to-ground missiles.
On the one hand, the visible/infra-red, optionally wire-guided “Spike” from RAFAEL allows seeing the approaching target from the missile point of view and steering the missile precisely until impact or using the fire-and-forget mode.
On the other hand, the HELLFIRE from Lockheed Martin is a combat proven and efficient laser-guided missile, combined either with a TIGER autonomous designation (improved STRIX roof-mounted-sight) or with an external designator.
Other major features contributing to enhance the configuration are such as the Enhanced Engine MTR 390-E (allowing 14% more power), improved ballistic protection from Kevlar, mode 5 IFF or the new HAD-E Electronic Warfare System (EWS).
Main Mission: Force Protection, Reconnaissance, Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground
- Chin-mounted 30 mm gun
- MISTRAL air-to-air missiles
- 68 mm air-to-ground rockets
- 70 mm air-to-ground rockets
- SPIKE air-to-ground missile (ES)
- HELLFIRE II air-to-ground missile (FR)
Other Capabilities: Strix Roof Mounted Sight, enhanced engine, additional ballistic protection.
The TIGER In-Service Support Concept
The TIGER In Service Support phase has ramped up significantly since the first deliveries in 2005.
From the very beginning, the participating Nations decided to implement a common approach to benefit common solutions in order to achieve the maximum availability of the fleet and the costs effectiveness.
The In Service Support to the TIGER system follows a Through Life Management Approach covering from the entry into service till the disposal of the system. The main target of this strategy is to minimize the Life Cycle Cost, particularly by using a common support whenever possible.
OCCAR has been entrusted to manage all engineering and logistic aspects in the whole spectrum of ISS activities up to 7 tasks: Material Support, Maintenance, Repair &Overhaul, Configuration and Modification, Technical Events, Training Means, Technical Publications and Post Design Activities.
The TIGER Weapon System uses the ASD standards and is serviced by various logistics electronic systems in order to efficiently support the management of spares and repair activities. The use of a corporate Logistic Information System is in preparation, being already bridged by an OCCAR in-house solution connecting users, industry and OCCAR to share Queries and Technical Events
The flexibility of the organization to provide the adequate support has been tested on several deployments into different theatres already performed by all three nations.
This cooperative philosophy has also spread to other areas such as training. The simulation has proved to be the most cost effective mean to train both air crews and maintenance staff and Nations have decided to share the systems.
France and Germany operate TIGER Aircrew Training Means (TATM) in a French-German TIGER Training Centre (Le Luc base in France) and a TIGER Maintenance Trainer (TMT) in the French-German Maintenance Training Center (Fassberg base in Germany).
Our armed forces need state-of-the art flight simulators in line with the aircrafts in service to train theirs crews and to fulfil their operational duties. Thus, Germany and France mandated OCCAR to upgrade their simulators. Consequently, in December 2014 OCCAR signed with Thales AVS France and Rheinmetall Electronics a contract covering the upgrade and a 10-year in-service support of the Tiger Aircrew Training Means (TATM).
OCCAR-EA has placed two contracts with a consortium composed of Airbus Helicopters Tiger, Thales AVS and MBDA, on behalf of the French, German and Spanish Armament agencies, DGA, BAAINBw and DGAM. They aim to de-risk the obsolescence treatment of the current Tiger helicopters, as well as the implementation of new capabilities.