Warplanes: Tiger, Tiger Getting It Right


September 23, 2012: Germany has finally gotten four of its new Tiger helicopter gunships ready for service in Afghanistan. These ASGARD (Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment) models include sand filters, additional defense systems, a mission data recorder, and communications gear able to deal with systems used by allies. Four more ASGARD Tigers are being prepared. The first four will arrive in Afghanistan before the end of the year.

Germany had a lot of problems with its new Tiger Helicopter gunship. German troops in Afghanistan wanted this aircraft badly and delivery has been delayed several times. In addition to the ASGARD upgrades, there were problems with the wiring and a number of less serious shortcomings as well.

Tiger is made by European firm Eurocopter, which also manufactures the NH90 transport helicopter. The Germans also ran into a lot of problems with the NH90s, especially when it came to using them in a combat zone. Currently, American AH-64s provide gunship support for German troops in Afghanistan.

Four years ago the German Army received the first of 80 Tiger HAD helicopter gunships. The Tiger slowly entered service seven years ago. The HAD version has 14 percent more engine power and better protection from ground fire. While earlier versions were mainly for anti-vehicle work, the HAD model is more like the current U.S. AH-64 Apache and optimized for ground support. Development of Tiger began in 1987, before the Cold War ended. So the anti-tank aspect took a while to disappear.

The Tiger costs about as much as the AH-64 (about $47 million each). The eight ton AH-64 has been in service for 25 years. The six ton Tiger has a crew of two and a max speed of 280 kilometers an hour. It cruises at 230 kilometers an hour, usually stays in the air about three hours per sortie. It is armed with a 30mm automatic cannon, 70mm rocket pods (19 rockets per pod), and various types of air-to-ground missiles (eight Hellfire types at once). It can also carry four Mistral anti-aircraft missiles.

So far, 93 have been delivered to Germany, France (which has ordered 80), Spain (24), and Australia (22). So far Tigers have spent over 42,000 hours in the air.


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