The Airbus Helicopter Tiger: Multi-role combat helicopter par excellence

L'Airbus Hélicoptère Tigre : Hélicoptère de combat multi-rôle par excellence - Phil Team
The EC665 Tiger helicopter was developed for France and Germany in three configurations, UHT multirole fire support for the German army and HAD and HAP multirole combat support for the French army. Tiger is built by Airbus Helicopters.

Development of the Tiger helicopter

The first flight of the aircraft took place in 1991. Serial production began in March 2002, and the first production Tiger HAP flight for France took place in March 2003. France ordered 80 aircraft (40 HAP combat support and 40 multi-role combat HAD). The first HAP version was delivered in March 2005. Germany ordered 80 combat support aircraft and the first UHT Tiger for Germany was delivered in April 2005. The total purchase is planned for France of 120 and 120 for Germany.

In September 2003, Spain selected a version of the Tiger HAP combat support helicopter, called HAD, armed with Rafael Spike-ER anti-armour systems and Mistral air-to-air missiles . 24 helicopters have been ordered, which also have an upgraded MTR390E engine and heavier payload. Six helicopters of the HAP version were delivered to Spain in 2007 and converted to HAD.

France initially placed an order for 70 HAP and ten HAC, an anti-tank variant, but this was replaced by 40 HAP and 40 HAD variants in December 2005. Spain and France signed the development contract for the helicopter in December 2004. The production HAD made its maiden flight in December 2007.

Tiger UHT multipurpose fire support helicopter

Tiger UHT multi-role fire support helicopters are equipped with a SAGEM Osiris mast sight, with charge-coupled infrared camera (IRCCD) and laser rangefinder. There is a nose-mounted frontal infrared (FLIR) with a 40° x 30° field of view.

"In its combat support role, the Tiger uses a cannon, 68 mm rockets and Mistral missiles."

Tiger can be equipped with four MBDA (formerly Matra BAe Dynamics) Mistral or Raytheon Stinger air-to-air missiles. Air-to-air missile control functions are located on the flight control handle. Target acquisition is achieved by using the joystick to direct the sight manually or with automatic tracking. The FIM-92 Stinger missile, also produced under license by EADS (formerly LFK), has a 1 kg warhead and a range of up to 5 km. The Mistral missile has a 3 kg warhead and a range of 6 km.

The Tiger is equipped with EADS/LFK ATA firing stations for the launch of Euromissile HOT 3 and Euromissile TRIGAT LR anti-tank missiles, fired by the gunner. Only one weapon is activated at a time.

The TRIGAT LR missile has a range of 500m to 5,000m and can be applied in direct attack or terminal dive attack mode. The HOT 3 missile has a range of up to 4,000 m.

Germany placed a production contract for the PARS 3 (TRIGAT LR) missile in June 2006. 680 PARS 3 LR missiles were delivered in 2014 for the German Army's Tiger UHT helicopter. The Tiger ARH for Australia is fitted with the M299 launcher for Hellfire II missiles and is also armed with 70mm rockets.

TIGER HAD combat helicopter

French Tiger HAD helicopters are armed with eight Lockheed Martin Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles. Hellfire II has a semi-active laser seeker and a range of over 8 km. The Spanish HAD is armed with Rafael Spike-ER air-to-surface missiles, built under license by General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas.

HAD is also armed with a Nexter (formerly Giat) 30mm cannon turret, 70mm rockets and four Mistral air-to-air missiles. HAD helicopters are also equipped with the Sagem Strix roof sight.

The DGA placed an order for seven Tiger HAD attack helicopters in December 2015. French Army Aviation received its first modernized HAD helicopter from Airbus in December 2017.

Armed reconnaissance helicopter TIGER ARH

The Tiger ARH for Australia is fitted with the M299 Hellfire II missile launcher and also armed with 70mm Hydra rockets, the 30mm Nexter cannon and four Stinger air-to-air missiles.

In December 2001, Eurocopter, with the Tiger ARH (armed reconnaissance), won the Australian Army Air 87 contract for 22 helicopters. The Tiger ARH is a modified version of the Tiger HAP with improved MTR390 engines, a laser designator incorporated into the Strix sight for firing Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles and M299 "smart" launchers.

The first Tiger ARH made its maiden flight in February 2004 and deliveries began in December 2004. It entered service in 2008.

Eurocopter's subsidiary, Australian Aerospace, has set up a local production unit for the assembly of helicopters and the manufacture of parts for the entire program. ADI Ltd is a major contractor, responsible for the customization of mission and communication systems.

Tiger HAP Combat Support Helicopter

In its combat support role, the Tiger HAP uses a cannon for close-range engagements, medium- and long-range 68mm rockets, and Mistral missiles to engage airborne threats. The helicopter is equipped with a 30 mm turret gun with: either four Mistral missiles, or 44 rockets plus four Mistral missiles, or 68 rockets. Only one weapon can be activated at a time.

"The Tiger's frames and beams were made from Kevlar and carbon laminates."

The French army Tiger HAP helicopter is equipped with a 30 mm AM-30781 automatic cannon from Nexter. The rate of fire is 750 rounds per minute. Tiger HAP also carries four Mistral missiles and two pods each carrying 22 68mm SNEB rockets.

Tiger HAP is equipped with a SAGEM Strix roof sight, with a gyrostabilized platform, an infrared camera, a charge-coupled television camera (CCD TV), a laser rangefinder and a direct optical sight.

French Tiger HAP helicopters are capable of being deployed from the French Navy amphibious transport ships Mistral and Foudre and the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.


To minimize weight, approximately 80% of the airframe was constructed from composite materials. Frames and beams were made from Kevlar and carbon laminates. The panels are made of a Nomex honeycomb material with carbon and Kevlar skins.

The blades of the helicopter are made of composite fiber. Structures and radar reflective surfaces have been minimized.


Each cockpit is equipped with two multi-function color displays supplied by Thales Avionique and VDO Luftfahrtgerate Werk, which display images from the gunner's sight, the FLIR and the video image from the Dornier/VDO Eurogrid digital map generator.

The French Tiger helicopter is fitted with a TopOwl helmet-mounted sight for both crew stations and a heads-up display for the pilot, all supplied by Thales Avionique. The crew of the German Tiger is equipped with BAE Systems integrated day and night helmets. The Australian Tigers have ADI's Helmet Mounted Sight Display (HMSD).

Each crew station is equipped with a control and display unit (CDU). Navigation, communications, and system status are controlled through the CDU, which includes a data insertion device (DID), a removable memory block preprogrammed with mission data at a ground station.


"Each cockpit is equipped with two multifunction color screens."

EADS Defense Electronics is supplying the EWS electronic warfare suite for the Tiger, which includes a radar warning receiver, a laser warning device, a MILDS missile launch detector developed by EADS DE, a central processing unit from Thales and a distributor of MBDA SAPHIR-M sequins/rockets. This system also equips the NH 90 helicopter. Indra provides the electronic warfare suite for the Spanish Tigers.


The navigation system includes two Thales Avionique three-axis ring laser gyro units, two magnetometers, two air data computers, a BAE Systems Canada CMA 2012 four-beam Doppler radar, a radio altimeter, a global positioning system and a suite of sensors low speed.

Turboshaft engines

The Tiger HAP/UHT is powered by two MTU/Turbomeca/Rolls-Royce MTR390 turboshaft engines rated at 960 kW (1,285 shp). Crash-resistant self-sealing fuel tanks feature explosion suppression and check valves.

Tiger HAD has two upgraded MTR390-E engines rated at 1,094 kW (1,467 shp).


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