The French Army’s Tiger combat helicopter fleet expanded on December 10 with Airbus Helicopters’ delivery of the first two attack helicopters in the HAD Block 2 version. This folowed the new variant’s qualification by the French General Directorate for Armament on November 21. These two Tigers will join those already in French Army service, which have proven their capabilities during operational deployments in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Libya and Mali.
The Block 2 version brings additional enhancements that now offer the full capacity of the HAD version, including improved targeting accuracy for rockets, the addition of combat external fuel tanks that provide longer flight times while still enabling the full complement of armament to be used, an extension of the flight domain in which Spike and Hellfire anti-tank missiles can be fired, and the integration of digital communications for operations in today’s digital battlefield. The HAD block 2 helicopters are also navalized, allowing their use from ships and in sea environments.
To date, Airbus Helicopters has delivered more than 110 Tiger helicopters to France, Germany, Spain and Australia – a total which includes six HAD Block 1 attack helicopters for the French Army, along with 40 in the HAP support and escort configuration.
The newly-delivered HAD Block 2 aircraft will initially be operated by GAMSTAT (the aero-mobility group of the technical section of the French Army), then assigned to the 1st Army Combat Helicopter Regiment, based at Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base in France’s Moselle region. This unit already operates HAD Block 1helicopters, which have been deployed to the Central African Republic. Alan Warnes