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Airbus signs global support contract for European Tiger helicopters

Airbus Helicopters and the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) have signed a tri-lateral global support contract aimed at boosting the availability rate of the Tigers in service in the French, German and Spanish armies.

With this long-term support agreement, Tiger readiness and supportability will be secured for the next decade and beyond. The contract covers critical items such as continuous improvement and obsolescence treatment as well as securing repair and spares capabilities with all vendors involved.

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In addition, it provides for the individual needs of each customer in line with their operational and deployment scenarios.

Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO, said, “We are proud to be providing long term and additional support to Tigers, especially when some of those Tigers are continuously deployed in important operational theatres.”

For instance, in France, the agreement guarantees parts availability up to 98 per cent and provides for the simplification of logistics as Airbus Helicopters will also directly take over the provisioning of new parts, as well as repaired parts and other expendables.

“This contract allows our customers to reliably plan their support activities for the next decade,” Even added.

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At present, 183 Tigers have been delivered to France, Germany, Spain and Australia, and have accumulated over 130,000 flight hours to date.

First deployed by the French Army in Afghanistan in 2009, and then shortly followed by the German and Spanish armies, the Tiger continues to demonstrate its essential role on theatres of operation as a highly versatile, stealthy and manoeuvrable attack helicopter.

The Australian Army is planning to replace the current fleet of EC665 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARH) from the mid-2020s with the LAND 4503 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Replacement program. 

LAND 4503’s program of delivery aims to support the Australian Army and is designed to contribute to the creation of the modernisation and development of a ‘networked and hardened’ Army.

The acquisition is broken down into three delivery stages, beginning with projected IOC in 2026 and FOC in 2028, including:

  1. Up to 24 aircraft would be based at one primary location and another five are intended at a training location. The aircraft fleet may also be co-located in one primary location; however, this is yet to be determined.
  2. IOC for LAND 4503 is based on a squadron of up to 12 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating a deployable troop of four aircraft, continued force generation of four aircraft, and an initial build-up training element of four aircraft. IOC will be supported by trained personnel and support systems.
  3. FOC for LAND 4503 is based on a regiment of up to 24 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating multiple concurrent deployed forces of up to squadron size. FOC will also be supported by a mature training system of up to five aircraft, with trained personnel and support systems.

The government has brought the LAND 4503 program forward and aims to acquire a proven and mature, off-the-shelf manned armed helicopter to deliver armed reconnaissance effects in the close and deep contested battlespace in support of the Australian Defence Force.  

Currently there are three contenders for the LAND 4503 program, including Boeing with the venerable AH-64 Apache, Bell Aerospace offering the AH-1Z Viper and Airbus promising enhanced reliability and capability for the Army’s existing fleet of ARH Tiger helicopters.

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2018 it generated revenues of €64 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners.

Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

Airbus signs global support contract for European Tiger helicopters
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