German Army plans to phase out its Tiger UHT attack helicopters by 2038 and replace the fleet over time with H145M light attack helicopters, built like the Tiger by Airbus. The decision had been expected as German Army effectively withdrew from a multinational programme to modernise the helicopters years ago while France and Spain in 2022 agreed to participate. German government has repeatedly complained about the Tiger’s low availability for operations due to technical problems. The Tiger fleet would be phased out by 2038 unless further measures were taken. The MkIII programme to modernise the helicopters carried too many risks with regard to cost and timely execution to take part in it.
The Airbus Helicopters H145M is a twin-engine light utility helicopter developed and manufactured by Airbus Helicopters. Germany’s Defence Ministry wants to buy 82 H-145M military helicopters and convert some of them into combat helicopters to replace its Tiger attack helicopter fleet. The Germany Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) which has been reluctant to buy into an upgrade of Airbus’s Tiger attack helicopter due to operational problems, wants to buy the 82 aircraft for 3.05 billion euros ($3.3 billion) and arm 24 of them with anti-tank missiles. Germany last year shifted its defence policy after Russia invaded Ukraine, committing 100 billion euros ($107 billion) to modernize the Germany Armed Forces.
In July 2013, Germany purchased 15 EC145s for the German Army to be used for special operations (KSK) designated EC645 T2. The EC645 T2 is armed with weapon mounts, fitted with electronic countermeasures system, ballistic protection, electro-optical system, fast rope system, cargo hooks and hoists. In 2017, Airbus Helicopters has delivered the 15th and final H145M multi-role helicopter to the German Armed Forces. The helicopters, stationed in Laupheim, are operated by the special forces. In 2022 Airbus has successfully performed the first firing demonstration of a Rafael Spike ER2 anti-tank guided missile from an H145M medium helicopter. Among those in attendance were delegations from Germany. This next step is to integrate the Spike anti-tank missile to meet the requirements of defence agencies seeking light attack helicopter.
The H145M is a militarized version of the H145; briefly designated as EC645 T2. A key feature of the H145M is the wide range of available optional mission equipment packages that can be rapidly installed and removed, based on the requirements of the mission. It can be outfitted with ballistic protection, self-sealing fuel tanks, electro optical/infrared sensor, retractable pintle-mounted 7.62mm FN MAG machine guns or M134 miniguns, military-grade communications and navigational systems and an electronic warfare self-protection system. The H145M’s HForce weapon system can precisely aim 12,7 mm and 20 mm gun pods and 70 mm guided and unguided rockets. Anti-armor capability will be provided by integrating SPIKE ER2 missile to the helicopter’s armament. Considered as the reference in its civil version for law enforcement organisations and military services, the H145 is in service with the US Army, which operate its UH-72A Lakota version.