Tiger is being built by Eurocopter, a subsidiary of the EADS (European Aeronautics Defence and Space) company formed by DaimlerChrysler Aerospace of Germany, Aerospatiale Matra of France and CASA of Spain. First flight of the aircraft was in 1991.
Serial production began in March 2002 and the first flight of the production Tiger HAP for France took place in March 2003. France has ordered 80 aircraft (70 combat support and ten antitank), with deliveries to commence in 2004. Germany has ordered 80 combat support aircraft with deliveries to begin by the end of 2004. Total procurement is planned to be 120 for France and 120 for Germany.
In December 2001, Eurocopter, with the Tiger ARH (armed reconnaissance), was awarded the contract for the Australian Army’s Air 87 requirement for 22 helicopters. The Tiger ARH is a modified version of the Tiger HAP with upgraded MTR390 engines and a laser designator incorporated in the Strix sight for the firing of Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles. The first Tiger ARH took its maiden flight in February 2004 and is scheduled to enter service in 2005, with final deliveries in 2008. Australian Aerospace (a subsidiary of Eurocopter) is to set up a local production facility for assembly of the helicopters and the manufacture of parts for the entire programme. ADI Ltd will be a major subcontractor, responsible for customising the mission and communications systems.
In September 2003, Spain selected a version of the Tiger HAP combat support helicopter to be called the HAD which will be armed with the Trigat LR and Mistral missile systems. 24 helicopters will be ordered which will also have an uprated Enhanced MTR390 engine and a heavier payload. Three helicopters are scheduled for delivery in 2004, the rest by 2008.
Both Tiger HAC and UHT anti-tank helicopters have an Osiris mast-mounted sight from SFIM, with infrared charge coupled device (IRCCD) camera and laser rangefinder. There is a nose-mounted forward looking infra-red (FLIR) with a 40° x 30° field of view. Tiger can be equipped with four MBDA (formerly Matra BAe Dynamics) MISTRAL or Raytheon Stinger air-to-air missiles. The air-to-air missile control functions are on the flight control grip. Target acquisition is achieved by using the joystick to steer the sight manually or with automatic tracking. The FIM-92 Stinger missile, also produced under license by EADS (formerly LFK), is equipped with a 1kg warhead and range up to 5km. The Mistral missile has a 3kg warhead and range of 6km.
The Tiger is fitted with EADS/LFK ATA firing posts for the launch of Euromissile HOT 3 and Euromissile TRIGAT LR anti-tank missiles, fired by the gunner. Only one weapon is activated at a time. The TRIGAT LR missile has a range of 500m to 5,000m and can be applied in direct attack or terminal dive attack modes. The HOT 3 missile has a range of up to 4,000m.
The Tiger ARH for Australia is being fitted with the M299 launcher for Hellfire II missiles and will also be armed with 70mm rockets.
In its combat support role the Tiger uses a gun for short-range engagements, 68mm rockets at medium and long range and Mistral missiles to engage airborne threats. The helicopter is equipped with a turreted 30mm gun together with: either four Mistral missiles, 44 rockets plus four Mistral missiles, or 68 rockets. Only one weapon can be activated at a time. The combat support Tiger helicopter for the French Army (Tigre HAP) is equipped with a 30mm AM-30781 automatic cannon from Giat. Rate of fire is 750 rounds per minute. Tigre HAP also carries four Mistral missiles and two pods each carrying 22 SNEB 68mm rockets.
The Combat Support Tiger has a SFIM Strix roof-mounted sight, with a gyro-stabilised platform, infrared camera, charge coupled device television camera (CCD TV), laser rangefinder and direct optical sight.
In order to minimise the weight, approximately 80% of the airframe has been constructed of composite materials. The frames and beams have been fabricated from Kevlar and carbon laminates. Panels are composed of Nomex honeycomb material with carbon and Kevlar skins. The helicopter blades are of fibre-composite construction. Radar reflective structures and surfaces have been minimised.
Each cockpit is equipped with two multi-function colour displays supplied by Thales Avionique and VDO Luftfahrtgerate Werk GmbH, which display imagery from the gunner's sight, the FLIR and video image from the Dornier/VDO Eurogrid digital map generator.
The French Tigre helicopter has a helmet-mounted sight for both crew stations, and a head up display for the pilot, all supplied by Thales Avionique. The German Tiger crew is equipped with BAE Systems Integrated Day and Night Helmets.
Each crew station is equipped with a Control and Display Unit (CDU). Navigation, communications and system status are controlled via the CDU. The CDU includes a Data Insertion Device (DID), which is a removable memory pack preprogrammed with mission data at a ground station.
EADS Defence Electronics is providing the EWS electronic warfare suite for the Tiger, which will include a radar warning receiver, laser warner, missile launch detector developed by EADS DE, central processing unit from Thales and chaff / flare dispenser from MBDA. This system will also be fitted in the NH 90 helicopter.