The Eurocopter Tiger ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) is the version ordered by the Australian Army to replace its OH-58 Kiowas and UH-1 Iroquois-based ‘Bushranger’ gunships. The Tiger ARH is a modified and upgraded version of the Tiger HAP with upgraded MTR390 engines as well as a laser designator incorporated in the Strix sight for the firing of Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles. Instead of SNEB unguided rockets, the ARH will use 70 mm (2.75 in) rockets from Belgian developer, Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ). Twenty-two of the variant were ordered in December 2001. Most of the helicopters will be operated by the 1st Aviation Regiment based at Robertson Barracks in Darwin. The helicopter was shipped to Australia in part form and locally assembled at Brisbane Airport by Australia Aerospace.
The first two ARH helicopters were delivered to Australia on 15 December 2004. ARH deliveries were to be completed by June 2010 with Full operating capability planned for December 2011. In 2012 after three incidents with cockpit fumes that endangered aircrew, pilots voted to not fly until all safety concerns were addressed. In August 2014, the Australian Defence Force and BAE Systems Australia successfully trialled the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser guidance kit for use with the ARH’s 70mm FZ unguided rockets. The 2016 Australian Defence White Paper stated that the Tiger helicopters will be replaced with other armed reconnaissance aircraft in the mid 2020s. The Australian Army’s Tiger ARHs reached their final operating capability on 18 April 2016. In April 2019, the Australian Army renewed Airbus Helicopters maintenance contract for another 5 years running through to 2025.
The ARH is equipped with a GIAT 30mm DEFA M781 cannon in a chin-mounted turret (below the helicopter’s nose). It can be used for engaging ground or air targets, and has a rate of fire up to 750 rounds per minute. The M781 is a dual feed weapon allowing for two different types of ammunition to be stored and selected. The weapon can be controlled via the Helmet-Mounted Sight Display, which can direct the aim of the cannon accurately to where the battle captain is looking using sensors within the helmet and cockpit. the Tiger ARH uses AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missile system, capable of defeating all current and projected armoured vehicles, as well as strong points, day or night and in adverse weather. The missile is laser-guided and has an inbuilt laser seeker that can read a specially coded laser being reflected off a target.
The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) Tiger is a four-bladed, twin-engined attack helicopter which first entered service in 2003. It is manufactured by Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters), the successor company to Aérospatiale’s and DASA’s respective helicopter divisions, which designate it as the EC665. Following their languages, in Germany it is known as the Tiger; in France and Spain it is called the Tigre. Development of the Tiger started during the Cold War, and it was initially intended as an anti-tank helicopter platform to be used against a Soviet ground invasion of Western Europe. The Tiger has the distinction of being the first all-composite helicopter developed in Europe; features such as a glass cockpit, stealth technology, and high agility to increase its survivability. Since the type’s introduction to service, Tigers have been used in combat in Afghanistan, Libya, and Mali.