The French army recently completed operational testing of its latest Tiger HAD combat helicopter in Djibouti, with a focus on desert operations.
Trials took place between 29 June and 29 July, with support from French forces based there, according to the French defence ministry.
Over 100 flight hours were logged by the aircrews, and the certification of the deployment procedures for a Tiger HAD module (2 helicopters) was achieved. In addition, the aircraft conducted live fire tests with guns, rockets and missiles.
The goals of the deployment were to fly the Tiger HAD version in high temperature conditions and for aircrews to master the aircraft, write the specific procedures and operate under difficult conditions, clearing the way to an initial operational capability in late 2014.
The campaign was conducted in three phases: a first phase devoted to technical testing of the aircraft, a second phase focused on the Tiger weapon system, and a third phase of wrap-up exercises performed in a tactical scenario, notably in support of the French army’s locally-based unit, the 5 Régiment Interarmes d’Outre-Mer (5th RIAOM).
Under the defence agreements between the Republic of Djibouti and France, the French forces stationed in Djibouti (FFDJ) constitute, since 2011, France’s advanced operational base on the east coast of Africa.
FFDJ participate in France’s prepositioned military forces, and form a reservoir of forces that can be projected quickly in a crisis. Among their duties, FFDJ also provide essential logistical support for French and foreign vessels engaged in counter-piracy operations, including Operation Atalanta. This support also extends to the Republic of Djibouti as part of its mobilization against piracy.
The FFDJ, finally, have a permanent training role thanks to the Centre d’Entraînement au Combat et d’Aguerrissement de Djibouti (CECAD), a training centre focusing on combat in desert environments.