The first HAD support and attack version of Eurocopter’s Tiger helicopter has initiated its flight test program at the company’s Albacete facility in Spain.
During the next 15 months, a full program of tests and development flights will be carried out to obtain the first qualific tion step (Block 1), which is scheduled for December 2011. These evaluations will include firing campaigns of the Mistral and Spike missiles planned before the end of this year.
“This is the first time that Eurocopter Spain has taken on the responsibility for testing a helicopter prototype,” said Liberto Negral, who is responsible for Eurocopter’s Governmental Programmes in Spain. “We are extremely proud to be performing the Tiger HAD’s flight tests, which are proceeding very well and are on time. This represents a great technical achievement for Eurocopter in Spain.”
The first production Tiger HAD helicopters are scheduled for delivery early 2012. Two countries already have placed orders for this version of the Eurocopter Tiger combat helicopter family, 24 ordered by Spain and 40 ordered by France. The HAD version also is being offered for export.
Over the last four months, Eurocopter’s Albacete facility has adapted the configuration of the aircraft for its HAD version, which is a derivative of the Tiger HAP support and escort helicopter variant. This activity included integration of the new MTR390 turboshaft engines, which have been specially designed for the HAD version, along with installation of new versions of the basic and mission software.
The Eurocopter Tiger is the newest and best-performing attack helicopter on the world market. For the different Tiger versions available, France has ordered 80 helicopters, Germany 80, Australia 22 and Spain 24. A total of 57 Tigers have entered service so far.
The HAD version offers numerous improvements over the HAP version currently deployed in Afghanistan by the French army. New features include a more powerful engine and increased payload-carrying weight, an improved optical sighting system, launchers for Hellfire and Spike air-to-ground missiles, an identification friend or foe (IFF) interrogator, optimized ballistic protection, and a new electronic warfare and countermeasures system.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 15,600 people. In 2009, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover of 4.6 billion Euros, orders for 344 new helicopters, and a 52 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group’s products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet.