Tiger ARH to resume flying “within weeks”

Australian Army soldiers from 1st Aviation Regiment prepare a Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter for flight at the Forward Arming and Refuelling Point in Robertson Barracks, Darwin.Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell says the Army’s fleet of 22 Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters could resume flying within weeks.

Responding to questions from the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee on Wednesday evening, LTGEN Campbell said the Tiger’s ‘operational pause’, put in place following the fatal crash of a German Army Tiger helicopter in August, should soon be lifted.

“With regard to when [flying will resume], we believe it might be in a matter of weeks,” Chief of Army told the committee.

“But I’m awaiting advice from the Forces Commander, Major General McLaughlin, on that issue.”

LTGEN Campbell said an Australian Army test pilot was sent to Germany to help with investigations into the accident.

“We have sent a qualified Tiger test pilot to Germany, greatly and very positively received by the Germans, to assist in their work in investigation of the accident,” he said.

“We’re liaising very closely with other Tiger user partners as well as the manufacturer on the issue. There are a couple of issues still at play, and the investigation remains open, but we think we’re coming to the end of the pause.”

While the Tiger is not flying, LTGEN Campbell noted aircrews are continuing to train in the Tiger simulators and “also work on some other helicopter types to maintain general aviation skills”.


  1. Raymond says

    Paul, ermmm, an Australian Tiger ARH was the first Tiger in the global fleet to reach 2,000 flying hours.

  2. Lechuga says

    The Tiger is one of those Helis that’s good on paper but not in practice. Think it’s time for the Apache.

  3. Black Hawk fan says

    Raymond, that was achieved only recently. And that airframe was first delivered in December 2004. +12 years for 2000 AFHRS is pretty poor ROE…

    This is a very capable aircraft, it is just too damn expensive to operate. When we have spent the throughlife sustainment budget already it is time to cut losses and buy something just as cabable that costs less, or, increase defence budget. The latter isn’t going to happen.

    I hope the grounding is lifted so the pilots and maintainers can get back to doing what they do.

  4. Bill says

    Andrew, that may be the case, but your car doesn’t have the maintenance requirements of a helicopter

  5. Gforgeorge says

    Forget offering NZ the Tigers, a Labour govt means first budget slashed will be defence. Tigers were a poor choice from the getgo along with the Taipans that are still a long way from FOC.

  6. Laurie says

    That’s right, only 1 tiger has 2000 hours. Pretty poor, France has over 60 tigers, at any 1 time, over 50 % are out of action. Poor choice!!

  7. Not the Darren You Are Looking For... says

    @ Laurie

    That’s an interesting claim – do you have a source for it?

  8. Josh James says

    Paul, the French have got excellent use out of the Tiger. Served them very well on many deployments. Not really tabbies at all. Find it really funny that plenty of people laude a plane as a lemon during its development only to turn around to praise it as a legend when it retires.

  9. Philip says

    Can anyone list the international operations (excluding training) that the Tigers have be utilised for?
    Anything in the Middle East over the years?

  10. BH says

    They’ve been used in operations over Afghanistan, Libya and Mali to date as far as I know.
    Putting a few sources together, reliability unknown, crews seem to be happy with the capability of the platform, however, it’s the support that let’s it down in a big way.
    The Apache has been around for a long time and been continually developed so it’s no surprise it’s as good as it is. But, how long before they are replaced? The US are beginning to define and design it’s replacement.
    If Australia jumped on board with that program, how long would a new Apache fleet stay in Australian service before being replaced..? Given lead time and stand up time and costs, would it be worth it..? All questions I’m sure defence is thinking about at the moment. I’m not sure there is any easy and cheap way out of this regardless of which way you look at it.
    If Airbus got their act together, there’s no reason why the new Tiger version that they are now talking bout couldn’t learn from the lessons of the current one. The same goes for the NH 90.

  11. Harry says

    Philip – for Australia, none. I think the French and/or Germans have used them in Afghanistan, Mali or somewhere like that in Africa. I am sure the French have used them from their carriers in a maritime capacity too.

  12. says

    Josh James, well first off there Josh, we all know the Tiger has been well below par in the performance range for most of the time! Secondly I haven’t said a plane is a lemon, then lauded it after its retirement!! Can you please back up your claims with documented proof? Cheers mate.

  13. Black Hawk fan says

    We cannot have developing aircraft in the ADF! We are too small and should not have the lions share of test and evaluation input like we have with both of the European platforms.

    As it stands, we do not have attack/recon or troop lift capability (CH-47 excluded) without waivers being written and accepting capability gaps that were promised on paper.

    It is about time we held these companies to their contracts.

  14. John N says


    Love it or hate it, Tiger is going to be around for a while yet, that is just a fact.

    If the DWP and DIIP follow the path that has been set, a project will start to look at replacement in the early 2020’s and start of introduction to service in the mid 2020’s (which means FOC will likely occur in the late 2020’s), realistically we are a decade away, those are the facts that Army has to live with.

    Despite what might eventually happen, I hope that they can get back in the air ASAP and can be as effective as possible until a suitable replacement is decided upon. Again, they won’t be replaced anytime soon, there is significant pressure on the Defence budget with the very large number of projects across the whole of the ADF, we just have to be patient is all.

    As to their eventual replacement, that is an interesting question, Viper, Apache, Tiger MkII?? Who knows.

    It may well be what eventually replaces Apache (for example), is something from the US ‘Future Vertical Lift’ program, the Apache replacement is not planned to enter service with the US until the late 2020’s, and possibly a combination of a helicopter or UAV of some type (the DWP and DIIP have left the door open to a possible mix of solutions).

    Personally I think Tiger is a great aircraft with great potential, unfortunately let down by all that has surrounded it, as we all know.


    John N

  15. Philip says

    (Thanks BH and Harry)

    A little concerning that the ADF did not choose to place the EuroTigers into the fray – ever – E Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, …. to support coalition troops. Doesn’t bode well.

    Are the EuroTigers going supported in the LHDs? Might only give the neighbours a scare …

    It appears to me that UAVs are now the preferred option for ADF surveillance duties, and in the near future Predators will follow-through on surgical strike.

    So what role for ADF attack helos in the future?
    (Absolutely no disrespect intended for the pilots or support teams intended here)

  16. Craigy says

    @ Phillip. The tiger was never bought as a attack helicopter. The specification has always been as an armed reconnaisance helicopter

  17. Chris says

    Cruel & blunt to say maybe, but a total waste of money considering they never supported the ADF in Afghanistan & Iraq.

  18. Jasonp says

    The reason Tiger never went to Afghanistan was because there was sufficient ARH/AH coverage in the part of the Afghan theatre the ADF was operating in. Tiger doesn’t have coalition-commons datalinks and would have placed an additional burden on coalition logistics and sustainment efforts in an austere environment.

    Yes, the French took Tigre to Afghanistan, but these operated out of Kabul in the north of the country where French and German forces were primarily operating, and where there were fewer US rotary winged assets employed.

    The reason for the current grounding is because of a German Tiger crash in Africa a couple of month ago resulting in the loss of the crew. There are various political reasons to do with delays in forming a coalition government after the German election as to why the crash report has not been released, so Airbus is not able to issue an operating clearance for the type.

  19. Dee Thom says

    If you want a good read, try “Apache Dawn” by Damien Lewis. It shows the overall superiority of the British Apache in Afghanistan in the summer of 2007.
    The crews and helo’s did 100 day stints, in the thick of battle, proving the ability of this great platform.

  20. Gavin says

    Agree that the Tiger will be around for a bit, but that is because Defence and political backbones are jelly and they are too gutless to call an end to the big sponge that this thing is.

    to be honest I am embarrassed for Airbus, the Defence Department and the clowns who chose this in the first place.

    Sad actually as civil Airbus helos are super reliable, although costly to run.

  21. Philip says

    Thanks Jasonp,

    A follow-up then – so have the Tigers now been fitter with that coalition-commons datalink so they could be utilised with the ADF and coalition forces in the future?

    I understand the current grounding circumstance, but it would be good to know whether they are be able to fly outside the safety of the Australian sandbox – eventually.

  22. Mick181 says

    Chris even if they had been in perfect working order or we had brought Apache’s or Vipers that doesn’t necessarily mean they would have been sent to Afghanistan or Iraq. Australias involvement was set around providing niche capabilities to a integrated Allied Task Force not a full range of capabilities

  23. Jasonp says

    Philip – no, ARH is fitted with the Eurogrid link which is great between other ARHs, MRH and ground-based assets, but is not directly compatible with US systems such as Link 16 etc.
    But there are workarounds planned. If you do some reading on the Jericho Dawn demonstration conducted last year that might give you an idea of what is planned.

  24. says

    John N, Raymond, I now believe the F-35 is a winner. I have spoken to someone with over 5,000 hrs and who is a test pilot. Having the F-35 along with the supers and Growlers is a total door kicking package. I owe you guys a drink!