The head of EADS’ helicopter unit has defended its embattled Tiger programme and said German bureaucracy shared the blame for delays and operational issues with the attack helicopter.
Germany suspended its 3 billion euro ($4 billion) purchase of the Tiger last month amid concerns over wiring damage from vibrations that the Germans said left its fleet unusable. In a news conference at the Berlin Air Show, Eurocopter Chief Executive Lutz Bertling acknowledged there was a vibration issue with the Tiger affecting its 16 kilometres of wiring. “We have an issue in getting the German Tiger fleet operational,” Bertling said, adding it was not acceptable.
In addition to these technical issues, the Tiger programme has also been saddled with delays. Amid growing concerns in the industry about German defence cuts, Bertling laid some of the blame for Tiger’s woes at the feet of the German government. “It is important to say that the responsibility for delays in the programme are joint responsibilities,” Bertling said. “Since 2006 we have experienced delays to the programme due to lacking flexibility on the side of officials.”
He particularly blamed staffing shortages in the relevant agencies and certification delays for getting the German programme off track relative to France and elsewhere, noting that the French Tiger fleet is already operating with high reliability in Afghanistan. But notwithstanding the complaints about German process, Bertling also said Eurocopter was bidding for a contract for a new German marine helicopter.