This is the French Army’s new weapon, the Tiger Support and Destruction Helicopter (Tiger HAD). Since its qualification on 21st November by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), two of these aircraft have been in the Central African Republic as part of the Sangaris peacekeeping operation.
Used in support of ground forces, the new Airbus Helicopters’ gunship has an offensive reconnaissance, and especially, support and fire suppression role. Since 2005, 110 units in three different versions (UHT, PAHs, ARH) have been delivered to the French, Spanish, German and Australian armies, and whilst the Tiger is not in itself a new aircraft, this new variant (HAD) opens up the range of possibilities.
The Tiger HAD has a more powerful engine (14% compared to PAH), and thanks to the addition of external tanks, now has a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), or 250 kilometres (155 miles) more than the previous version. The attack helicopter is also equipped with a Hellfire air-to-ground laser guided missile, capable of destroying new targets such as buildings or armoured vehicles with extreme precision. Besides the Tiger HAP’s Mistral air-to-air missiles, 30mm cannon and rockets hardware, this new version has an improved Strix viewfinder for accelerated target designation.
By the end of the year, the French army’s light aircraft arm will have ten Tiger HAD’s. The final objective being that this new version will form the entire fleet. Spain has the same plans, having ordered 24 units in total.