The global defence contractor has been tapped to deliver next-generation upgrades to the Tiger attack helicopter fleets of both France and Spain.
The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation, known as CCAR, has awarded a contract to Airbus Helicopters for the development, production, and initial in-service support of the Tiger MkIII attack helicopter upgrade program.
This involves upgrades to 42 Tigers operated by the French Armed Forces (with an option to upgrade a further 25) and 18 operated by Spain.
The contract is also open to Germany, which has the opinion of opting in to the program at a later date.
The first Tiger MkIII prototype is scheduled for an inaugural flight in 2025, with the inaugural delivery to the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) expected in late 2029 followed by a delivery to Spain in 2030.
Airbus Helicopters facilities in Albacete (Spain), Marignane (France) and Donauwörth (Germany) are expected to host the upgrade work.
The upgraded Tiger is expected to enable connectivity to the digital battlefield, supporting manned-unmanned teaming as well as share tactical information in real time.
Tiger MkIII is also expected to support a broader range of weapons — turret gun, laser-guided rockets and missiles — and renewed detection and targeting capabilities.
The new standard configuration is set to include the integration of the Safran Strix NG sights, the Thales FlytX avionics suite, the Topowl DD helmet-mounted sight display, an Indra IFF upgrade, Thales GNSS, and Safran’s inertial navigation system.
Meanwhile, the communication suite is expected to be upgraded with Thales’ Contact/Synaps radio and data links dedicated to manned/unmanned teaming.
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Spain Link16 and SATCOM functionalities are also set to be included.
Spain’s Tiger MkIII are to be equipped with a battlefield management system and countermeasures provided by Indra, while the French Tiger MkIII is equipped with a battlefield management system by ATOS and countermeasures provided by Thales.
The upgraded weapon package for France’s Tiger fleet is to include the MBDA MAST-F (Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile) and Mistral 3 air-to-air missile, while Spain’s fleet is to be fitted with 70mm guided rockets and a new air to ground missile.
“The Tiger MkIII program will provide a European answer to the need for a state-of-the-art attack helicopter for the decades to come,” Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO, said.
“With this upgrade, the Tiger will remain an essential and modern asset to its armies and reinforce defence cooperation in Europe.
“The Tiger MkIII will have no equivalent in the world for high intensity operations and will further improve the connectivity, precision, and fire power capabilities of the current Tiger.”