Germany has decided to retire its fleet of Tiger combat helicopters by 2038 and replace them with the Airbus H145M. The Tiger helicopters have been plagued by technical difficulties and low availability for operations.
The Tiger helicopter is a four-bladed, twin-engine attack helicopter that was developed by a consortium of European companies, including Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter), AgustaWestland and Fokker. It entered service with Germany in 2005 and was deployed in Afghanistan and Mali. However, the helicopter has faced many problems, such as engine failures, software glitches and maintenance issues. According to a report by Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s Tiger fleet had an average operational readiness of only 26% in 2020.
The H145M helicopter is a lighter and more versatile helicopter that can perform a range of missions, such as reconnaissance, fire support, medical evacuation and special operations. It is based on the civilian H145 helicopter, but with added military features, such as a modular weapon system, ballistic protection and electronic countermeasures. The H145M can carry up to 10 passengers or 1.7 tons of cargo and has a maximum speed of 260 km/h. It is also cheaper and easier to maintain than the Tiger.
Germany’s defence ministry said that it plans to phase out the Tiger helicopters gradually and replace them with the H145M helicopters over time. The ministry said that it had looked into different scenarios and decided that participating in the Mk III programme to modernise the Tiger helicopters carried too many risks in terms of cost and timely execution. Instead, the ministry said that it wants to purchase H145M helicopters from Airbus to be able to fulfil its commitments to NATO in the future. The ministry plans to present a deal to parliament’s budget committee for approval by the end of this year.
This decision marks a significant shift in Germany’s military strategy, as it moves away from a heavy attack helicopter platform to a lighter and more flexible one. The H145M helicopter is expected to offer more operational advantages and lower costs than the Tiger helicopter. However, some critics may argue that the H145M helicopter is not a suitable replacement for the Tiger helicopter, as it has less firepower and protection. The impact of this decision on Germany’s defence capabilities and its cooperation with other European countries remains to be seen.
Tiger attack helicopter
The Tiger is a European attack helicopter that was developed by Airbus Helicopters, formerly known as Eurocopter. It first entered service in 2003 and has been used by several countries, including France, Germany, Australia and Spain. The Tiger is designed to perform various missions, such as anti-tank, escort, reconnaissance, fire support and air-to-air combat.
The Tiger has a four-blade main rotor and a twin-engine configuration. It features a glass cockpit, stealth technology and high agility. It can carry a range of weapons, such as rockets, missiles, cannons and machine guns. The Tiger can also operate in conjunction with drones through the Manned Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) system.
The Tiger has undergone several upgrades and variants over the years. The latest version is the Tiger Mk3, which is being developed for France and Spain. The Tiger Mk3 will have improved avionics, sensors and weapons, as well as a new battlefield management system. However, Germany and Australia have decided to retire their Tiger fleets and replace them with other helicopters, such as the Boeing AH-64 Apache or the Airbus H145M.