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Paper Tiger
by James Dunnigan
June 5, 2010

Germany continues to have problems with its new Tiger Helicopter gunship. German troops in Afghanistan want this aircraft, but it looks like German Tigers won't head east until late next year, at the earliest. The biggest problem with the Tiger is the wiring, but there are other 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.

Two years ago, the German Army received the first of 80 Tiger HAD helicopter gunships. The Tiger slowly entered service five 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 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.

France has bought 80 Tigers, Spain 24 and Australia 22. The eight ton AH-64 has been in service for 25 years, and nearly 1,100 have been built so far. France already has its version of Tiger in Afghanistan.


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