German Tiger UHT. Photo courtesy of Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Helicopters delivered the last of 68 Tiger helicopters to the German Army last month from its facility in Donauworth, Germany, but that doesn't spell the end of the program.
The Tigers, which also serve in the armed forces of France and Spain, are used for transport, convoy protection, armed reconnaissance and attack. Over the past 13 years, they’ve been deployed to Afghanistan, Mali and Libya.
Airbus sees viability in continuing the Tiger program, a company official recently told R&WI. The company is working with operators on upgrades to the platform. Thirty-three of Germany’s Tigers are set to undergo upgrades to be ready for the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2023, according to the commander of the International Helicopter Training Center and General of the Army Aviation Troup, Col. Ulrich Ott. The task force is a subset of the NATO Response Force aimed at countering threats to NATO sovereignty.
Airbus said it has started retrofits of the Tigers for conversion from HAP (support and escort helicopter) to HAD (support and destruction helicopter) for France and will begin Germany’s for the ASGARD configuration in the next few years.
Airbus told R&WI the final assembly line in Marignane, France, will remain open for this conversion and will remain able to produce additional Tigers in the future.
The company is currently undergoing negotiations with Germany, France and Spain to discuss future Tiger operations and an upgrade to the platform’s avionics and mission systems, Airbus said.
In May, CEO Bruno Even tweeted in French: “The Tiger is emblematic of French-German cooperation at the heart of DNA @AirbusHeli. Our teams are mobilized to meet the challenges of Mark 3 and continue the success of this extraordinary program.”
Airbus has conducted an architecture study regarding possible new configurations to meet its customers’ needs, Airbus said. The results of that study were delivered last year to Europe's joint arms program, the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation, or OCCAR.