The 1st Aviation Regiment is one of the Australian Army’s three Army Aviation regiments and provides aerial reconnaissance and fire support to the Australian Army. The 1st Aviation Regiment, equipped with Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters, forms part of the 16th Aviation Brigade and is based at Gaza Lines, Robertson Barracks, Darwin. The Regiment was formed on 26 April 1966 as the 1st Division Army Aviation Regiment and was re-designated the 1st Aviation Regiment on 31 March 1967. The regiment had historically operated a mix of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. In late 2004, the regiment was re-organised for its new role to operate the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH).
As part of this restructure, 171st Operational Support Squadron and 173rd Surveillance Squadron were placed as direct command units of the 16th Aviation Brigade. During 2005 and 2006, the regiment consolidated all of the remaining squadrons into one location for the first time, at Gaza Lines, in Darwin’s Robertson Barracks. The 1st Aviation Regiment reached its final operating capability with the Tigers on 18 April 2016. This process took much longer than expected, due in part to the complexity of the helicopters and shortages of spare parts. The 2016 Defence White Paper stated that the Tigers would be retired early, and be replaced with different aircraft during the mid-2020s.
The Tiger ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) is the Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) Tiger 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.