Final Tiger helicopters delivered to Australian Defence Force


Australian Aerospace has handed over the last of 22 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Tiger ARH022 was accepted by the ADF at Australian Aerospace’s Final Assembly plant at Brisbane Airport. The formal hand-over ceremony was attended by representatives of the Commonwealth, aviation and aerospace industry executives, senior officers of the Australian Defence Force, and senior management of Australian Aerospace Limited and its parent Eurocopter.

Acquired under the AU$2 billion Project Air 87 in December 2001, the Tiger replaces the ADF’s existing rotary-wing force comprising Bell 206B-1 (Kiowa) reconnaissance and UH1-H (Iroquois) gunship helicopters. The first four were manufactured in France and the rest assembled in Brisbane by Australian Aerospace.

The first Tiger was scheduled to enter service in 2004. However, because of delays in attaining operational capability, Australia’s Defence Materiel Organisation had to stop payment for the helicopters in July 2007. By 2008 the main issues had been addressed and payments resumed. However, in October 2010 it was revealed that the helicopters will not be fully operational for another two years. The Tigers have been deployed with the Army’s 1st Aviation Regiment in Darwin, the Army Aviation Training Centre at Oakey in Queensland and at RAAF Edinburgh, in South Australia.

Commenting at the final delivery, Jens Goennemann Chief Executive Officer Australian Aerospace, said: “This is a great day for Army Aviation, the Australian Defence Force and for Australian Aerospace, marking another important milestone in the ARH program.
“The Tiger ARH has been a complex and demanding program and one not without its fair share of challenges,” Goennemann said. “But extensive collaboration and a cooperative approach by Australian Aerospace, our industry partners and the various ADF branches involved has been a significant contributor to where we proudly stand today.”

Goennemann said delivery of ARH022 did not signify an end to Australian Aerospace’s Tiger relationship with the ADF. “Australian Aerospace will continue to work with Army to support, maintain and bring this important new platform to maturity within the ADF.”

Under Project AIR 87, as well as assembly of the Tigers and delivery of ground crew training systems, Australian Aerospace is also responsible for the overall programme management and Through-Life-Support (TLS) of the helicopters throughout their service life.

Equipped to carry a 30mm turreted-cannon in the nose, 70mm rockets and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, the Tiger can detect and engage targets at long distances. The French Defence Force has successfully operated its Tigers in Afghanistan since 2009 and in Libya in 2011.

The strong relationship between the ADF and Australian Aerospace holds true across Australian Aerospace’s range of Defence programmes. The company supports the C-130J Hercules Transports, the AP-3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft and the MRH90 multi-role helicopter. The MRH90 is presently being assembled in-country and delivered to the ADF.