April 10, 2013:
Germany appears to have lost its enthusiasm for European made military helicopters and is cutting its order for Tiger gunships from 80 to 57 and NH90 transports from 122 to 82. Germany has lad a lot of problems with both of these helicopters during the last decade. Besides, Germany has better uses for the money, like bailing out the many European nations having financial problems.
It was only last year that Germany got four of its new Tiger helicopter gunships ready for service in Afghanistan. These ASGARD (Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment) models included sand filters, additional defense systems, a mission data recorder, and communications gear able to deal with systems used by allies. Four more ASGARD Tigers are being prepared. The first four are now in Afghanistan. But all Tigers were grounded on March 4th after one of them crashed and burned during a training accident in Germany. This is the third Tiger to crash so far, although none of the six crewmen involved were killed.
Germany had a lot of problems with its new Tiger Helicopter gunship. Meanwhile German troops in Afghanistan wanted this aircraft badly but delivery was delayed several times. In addition to the ASGARD upgrades, there were problems with the wiring and a number of less serious shortcomings as well.
Tiger is made by European firm Eurocopter, which also manufactures the NH90 transport helicopter. The Germans also ran into a lot of problems with the NH90s, especially when it came to using them in a combat zone. Until the recent arrival of the German Tigers, American AH-64s provided gunship support for German troops in Afghanistan. France also has some Tigers in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Mali, where they have performed well. Tiger has spent over 1,500 flight hours in combat zones so far.
Five years ago the German Army received its first Tiger HAD helicopter gunships. The HAD Tiger slowly entered service eight years ago. The HAD version has 14 percent more engine power and better protection from ground fire. While earlier versions were mainly for anti-vehicle work, the HAD model is more like the current U.S. AH-64 Apache and optimized for ground support. Development of Tiger began in 1987, before the Cold War ended. So the anti-tank aspect took a while to disappear.
The Tiger costs about as much as the AH-64 (about $47 million each). The ten ton AH-64 has been in service for 25 years. The six ton Tiger has a crew of two and a max speed of 280 kilometers an hour. It cruises at 230 kilometers an hour and usually stays in the air about three hours per sortie. It is armed with a 30mm automatic cannon, 70mm rocket pods (19 rockets per pod), and various types of air-to-ground missiles (eight Hellfire types at once). It can also carry four Mistral anti-aircraft missiles.
So far, a hundred have been delivered to Germany, France (which has ordered 80), Spain (24), and Australia (22). So far Tigers have spent over 45,000 hours in the air.