An Update on Australia’s Tiger Helicopters


2012-11-18 In a recent piece by Kym Bergmann in a Defence Special Report in the Weekend Australian, October 27-28 2012) an update has been provided on the development of the new Eurocopter Tiger helicopter with the Australian forces.

As Bergmann notes: “The real test of a defense system procurement is when the item is considered ready for us in combat, and the 22 Tigers are finally reaching that point.”

He suggested that the Initial Operating Capability would be declared for the Tiger by the end of the year.

The Australian variant of the Tiger family is the most lethal of all (of the family)….

The Australian Army chose right from the beginning of the project to equip its aircraft with not only a 30mm chain gun and unguided 70mm rockets, but also extremely potent Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. 

The army chose the most advanced night vision system available, the more powerful engines and also needed a laser designator for the Hellfires.

And the Tigers when integrated with other systems can become much more than an Army attack helicopter.

The Australian tiger attack helicopter.

According to Air Vice-Marshal (Ret.) John Blackburn, now the Chairman of the influential Australian think tank, the Kokoda Foundation, the Tiger if better integrated into overall Australian air capabilities could make a significant contribution to a networked Australian force.

Question: I know that the Aussies have discussed with the French how the French used the Tigers aboard the Mistral off of the Libyan coast, and the Aussies have Tigers in the force.  Also, the Aussies are working with the USMC to sort out ways to think about operating the new ship.

Blackburn:  All true, but the buying of platforms in isolation is clearly a problem that limits the kind of synergy and integration that should be possible.  The Tigers we bought have proprietary data links and cannot link directly with other air systems such as the F/A-18s.

They operate through a proprietary ground base station.  The proprietary link is a significant impediment to integrated air operations and shared situational awareness.

The answer of course is to shape an cross-platform system of integrating C5ISR capabilities, which is a major task facing the evolution of Australian forces.

For a related story, on the A330 tanker see the following:

Credit Photo:

Credit Video: Eurocopter