Airbus Tiger (EC665)

15th December 2021

Airbus Tiger (EC665) user+1@localho Wed, 12/15/2021 - 21:17

The Tiger (formerly EC665) is an attack helicopter built by Airbus and is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 engines. Each nation uses the Tiger in slightly different roles such as force protection and armed reconnaissance, which has led to multiple divergent aircraft configurations across France, Germany, Spain and Australia. As of the time of this writing, 161 Tigers are in operational service of the more than 180 helicopters delivered.

Program History

In 1974 the Bundeswehr (German Military) conducted a threat analysis of projected threats from Warsaw Pact forces and concluded its military urgently needed to field a fleet of modern anti-tank helicopters. Early West German Army staff requirements determined it would need a 5-ton-class helicopter with a 2 -hr. endurance, cruise speed of 168 mph (270 kph), night vision capability and an armament of at least eight 2 -mi. (4 km)-range anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). West German doctrine assumed NATO forces would establish air superiority, but the new helicopter was expected to defend itself from adversary helicopters. An interim purchase of Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 1 (PAH-1, meaning anti-tank helicopter 1) helicopters, was approved in 1975 to buy time for the development of a dedicated anti-armor helicopter; the PAH-1 was a Messerschmitt-B lkow-Blohm (MBB) BO 105s armed with six HOT Semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) missiles. Germany examined the acquisition of the McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache and joined the Italian Mangusta program prior to its partnership with France.

Having withdrawn from NATO s integrated military command in 1966, French military requirements for new combat helicopters in the early 1970s reflected substantially different military doctrine and national defense objectives when compared to West German requirements. Under a European intervention scenario, French Army staff predicted they would face overwhelming numbers of armored forces supported by integrated air defense systems. France foresaw the need to procure two new types of combat helicopters. One type would defeat armored forces and the other would protect the anti-armor helicopter from aerial threats.

In November 1975, German and French defense ministers discussed the need for both nations to acquire modern anti-tank helicopters capable of operating at night. Political disagreements and divergent requirements delayed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) until May 1984. The MoU outlined the development of three helicopters which would all share the same airframe and engines. Germany would acquire 212 Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 2 (PAH-2) helicopters by 1996. France would acquire 140 H licopt re Antichars avec Missile Antichars de 3e G n ration (Anti-tank helicopter with third generation ATGMs, HAC-3, which was eventually shorted to HAC) and 75 H licopt re d'Appui Protection support and protection helicopter by 2000.

The program was nearly canceled in 1986 after rising costs and disagreements over the new helicopter s targeting and night vision system. Key stakeholders within the Bundeswehr s leadership favored the purchase of AH-64 Apaches. Even before the deterioration in negotiations, Germany had sought to integrate the Apache s Martin-Marietta target acquisition and night vision system (TADS/PNVS) into the Franco-German helicopter. France refused to incorporate U.S. components and was eventually able to convince Germany to adopt a European TADS/PNVS equivalent. Renewed negotiations produced an amended MoU in November 1987 which culminated in the adoption of the name Tiger/Tigre for the joint project as well as a developmental contract in November 1989. French and German industry drew closer to facilitate the realization of the program. The helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale and Messerschmitt-B lkow-Blohm (MBB) continued to work on the program until they merged in 1992 to form Eurocopter.

In December 1992, the Defense Ministry rescoped the requirements of the PAH-2 variant. The resulting Unterst tzungshubschrauber Tiger (UHT), which translates to Support Helicopter Tiger, was developed as a multirole platform rather than an attack helicopter solely focused on the destruction of enemy armor. Additional missions include combat support, escort, reconnaissance and anti-aircraft roles.

A total of seven Tiger prototypes were built, including two static test articles (PT6 and PT7). On April 27, 1991, the first Tiger prototype (PT1) took flight. PT2 followed in April 1992 and featured the HAP avionics systems by 1996. PT3 flew in November of 1993 and tested UHT mission systems. PT4 was built to the HAP configuration and conducted live fire tests including eight Mistral missiles, 50 rockets and 3,000 rounds of 30mm cannon ammunition. PT5 was the last flying prototype and was equipped with the full UHT avionics package. PS1 was built as a preproduction example to test manufacturing processes. Serial production began with the German UHT S01, which flew in August 2002 and HAP S01 for the French, which flew in March 2003.



Divergent French and German requirements ensured multiple variants of the Tiger would be produced, but all variants share the same airframe with most of the differences stemming from mission systems. The base airframe is characterized by its survivability and agility.

The Tiger airframe takes a holistic approach to survivability incorporating signature reduction, durable airframe and an extensive countermeasures suite. The Tiger s design minimizes its IR signature by mounting the engines within the fuselage. An exhaust gas dilution system further reduces emitted heat and drives exhaust up to the rotor. Radio-frequency (RF) reduction is achieved through multiple techniques. The Tiger is comparatively small relative to its contemporaries such as the AH-64 Apache. Basic shaping techniques and extensive use of composite materials further reduce the Tiger s RF signature. Seventy-seven percent of the Tiger s airframe weight is comprised of composite materials such as Kevlar (carbon aramid) frames and beams as well as Nomex honeycomb with carbon and Kevlar face laminates. The extensive use of composite materials reduced the Tiger s airframe weight by 30%. An additional 11% of the aircraft s weight is aluminum and 6% is titanium.

The airframe is built to protect the crew from vertical crashes at speeds of up to 10 m per sec. (m/s) or 23 mph. The floor of the cockpit and landing gear are built to absorb energy from a crash. The landing gear can accommodate a 6-m/sec. (13.4-mph) descent without sustaining damage. Hot-pressed boron carbide ceramic armor inserts are mounted in the seats to protect the crew against ballistic threats. The airframe s armor is resistant to 23mm cannon fire. The Tiger features self-sealing fuel tanks to further improve its ballistic protection. Lastly, the Tiger s electronics feature electromagnetic interference (EMI) protection against both lightning strikes and electromagnetic pulses.

Agility and maneuverability were also key requirements that shaped the Tiger s design. Both qualities are essential to facilitate nap-of-the-Earth (NOE) operations e.g. object avoidance at low altitude and to improve survivability. The Tiger has a maximum speed of 175 kt. (201 mph), can pivot 40 deg. in 1 sec. and can perform a complete barrel roll in less than 5 sec.


The Tiger has three main avionics subsystems which vary depending upon the variant: electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, helmet-mounted display and countermeasures suite.