The combat experience of using the French light anti-tank helicopters Alouette III and SA.342 Gazelle demonstrated that they have a chance of success in the event of a surprise attack, and without entering the enemy's air defense zone. Light, barely armored vehicles turned out to be very vulnerable and could be easily shot down even by small arms fire. In this regard, in France in the 80s, work was carried out to create new anti-tank helicopters with improved flight characteristics and equipped with more advanced sighting and navigation systems.
To replace the Alouette III, the Aerospatiale SA.360 Dauphin was created in 1976. The car was not very successful and was not in demand among buyers. Turbomeca Astazou XVIIIa engine with 980 hp accelerated a helicopter with a maximum takeoff weight of 3000 kg to 270 km / h. Practical range - 640 km. This helicopter did not have any special advantages over the Aluet and Gazelle according to flight data, except for the increased flight speed. Like the Gazelle, the Dauphin used a fenestron-type tail rotor.
The variant, known as the SA-361 HCL (Helicoptere de Combat Leger - Russian Army Combat Helicopter), was equipped with the advanced infrared night vision system TRT Hector, the SFIM APX M397 gyro-stabilized sight and SFIM Venüs television equipment. Compared with the sighting and search system installed on the Gazelle, the equipment could effectively search for targets in poor visibility conditions or at night. ATGM NOT was used as the main weapon.
The SA-361H / HCL helicopter became a kind of "flying stand" on which modern avionics were tested as part of the concept of a light reconnaissance and attack helicopter. Several SA-361H / HCLs were transferred to the French Army Aviation. It was believed that these vehicles, capable of carrying eight ATGMs and equipped with an all-day surveillance and sighting system, in addition to fighting tanks, would control the actions of anti-tank Gazelles.
SA 365 Dauphin 2 was developed using a number of technical solutions SA.360 Dauphin 2. Operation of the helicopter began in December 1978. Unlike SA.360 "Dolphin-2" fully justified its name, the helicopter had an elegant, streamlined fuselage and retractable landing gear. That in combination with two Turbomeca Arriel 2C engines, with a takeoff power of 838 hp. each, and a four-bladed rotor made it possible to accelerate the helicopter in horizontal flight up to 306 km / h. "Dolphin-2" with a maximum take-off weight of 4300 km could cover a distance of 820 km without landing. From the very beginning, even for civilian vehicles, redundancy of hydraulic systems and the ability to fly on one engine were provided. An electric generator is paired with each engine, uninterrupted power supply is also provided by the main and backup nickel-cadmium batteries. The various parts of the rotorcraft are made of composite materials. The large nose cone can accommodate various electronic equipment, including radars or optoelectronic surveillance systems.
The SA 365 Dauphin 2 helicopter proved to be a commercially successful machine, it was popular with both civilian users and the military. In total, more than 1000 helicopters were delivered to customers. At the same time, the cost of a new car in 2000 reached $ 10 million.
The military transport-combat version of the Dauphin 2 is known as the AS 365M Panther. Its maiden flight took place on February 29, 1984. "Panther" can take up to 10 paratroopers with personal weapons. The transport-combat helicopter has partial armor protection of the cockpit from rifle-caliber bullets and sealed fuel tanks. Due to the wider use of composites, special paint and heat dissipating screens, it was possible to reduce the radar and thermal signature.
The carrying capacity of the "Panther" is 1700 kg, of which 480 kg can be placed on the outer side armament assemblies. Although the armed versions of the Panther were used mainly as troop, patrol and anti-submarine, a number of helicopters were equipped with anti-tank systems.
The AS 565CA combat helicopter is equipped with a Venus forward-looking IR system and is capable of carrying eight ATGMs NOT or TOW, 20-mm GIAT M621 cannons or 68-70-mm NAR blocks. The maximum speed due to the increased resistance of the external suspension dropped to 280 km / h. This modification is mainly intended for escorting helicopters used by the commandos and participating in special operations. As part of the upgrade program, improving defensive and offensive capabilities, the helicopter received a new glass cockpit compatible with night vision goggles, electro-optical sensors for detecting anti-aircraft missile launches, Link 11 automated data transmission equipment, and self-defense systems similar to those used on the Eurocopter combat helicopter Tiger. In May 2011, the Air Support Squadron of the 9th Marine Brigade of the French Navy received the first two of 16 ordered attack helicopters. Along with the Tiger attack helicopters, the modernized Panthers equipped with anti-tank systems can be part of the Mistral-type UDC air group.
The latest version of the Panther took part in the South Korean competition for the LAH light reconnaissance and combat helicopter. The vehicle should be equipped with increased power engines, millimeter-wave radar, 20-mm turret cannon and Israeli Spike ATGMs.
On the basis of Aérospatiale Dauphin 2, the Chinese aircraft building corporation Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation has created the Z-9 combat helicopter. Licensed assembly from French components at the Harbin aircraft plant began in the mid-80s. The armed version became known in the early 90s. Initially, the Z-9 was intended only for providing fire support and carried the appropriate weapons: blocks with 57-90-mm NAR, containers with 12, 7-mm machine guns and 23-mm cannons. Subsequently, the licensed copy of the French helicopter has undergone major revision. The Z-9W modification became the first anti-tank helicopter created in the PRC. For the first time, a variant equipped with four HJ-8E ATGMs and a gyro-stabilized sighting system installed in the upper part of the cockpit was demonstrated in 1998.
In fact, it is a transport-combat vehicle with very limited anti-tank capabilities. The main purpose of the armed Z-9W was to support the landed assault with fire and to combat armored vehicles in good visibility. In many ways, this helicopter is a functional analogue of the Soviet Ka-29.
A number of English-language sources indicate that the HJ-8 anti-tank missile, weighing 24.5 kg, is a Chinese copy of the BGM-71 TOW. But in fairness, it is worth saying that the ATGM created in China is more similar in layout to the enlarged Soviet "Baby".
ATGM HJ-8E, launched from a tubular container with a diameter of 120 mm, is controlled by wires using a semi-automatic guidance system. With an average flight speed of 220 m / s, the launch range reaches 4000 m. Armor penetration of the cumulative warhead is 800 mm of homogeneous armor. There are also options with tandem, high-explosive fragmentation and thermobaric warheads. On modern versions of the HJ-8 ATGM, a laser-guided seeker is used. Thanks to the use of a compact element base, the mass of the rocket is reduced to 22 kg.
In 2011, the night modification of the Z-9WA was officially presented. The helicopter is equipped with a night vision system similar in capabilities to the American FLIR, as well as a new laser rangefinder-designator. The crew now have multifunctional flat-panel displays and a system for displaying information on the windshield.
The armament of the Z-9WA included the HJ-9 ATGM with laser guidance. The HJ-9 rocket is considered a development of the HJ-8, but has a caliber of 152 mm and a mass of up to 37 kg. The tandem warhead is capable of penetrating 900 mm of armor at a distance of up to 5000 m.
The real characteristics of the latest versions of the Z-9, intended for "domestic consumption", are not reliably known, since back in 2003, the PLA began deliveries of helicopters with Chinese-made engines of the WZ-8 family with a takeoff power of about 1000 hp. Despite the expiration of the license agreement, serial construction of multifunctional helicopters based on the French Dolphin continues, which has become the subject of disputes between France and China.
Being a very successful transport-combat vehicle, the AS 565SA still could not count on successful operations in the zone of a strong military air defense. In its appearance and concept of application, the Panther is in many ways similar to the Italian Hirundo helicopter. As a result, the command of the French Ministry of Defense, just like the Italian military, came to understand the need to create a well-protected attack helicopter equipped with an aiming and navigation system that provides piloting, independent target search and the use of guided missiles at night and in adverse weather conditions. However, due to limited financial resources, France alone could not pull the program of creating a combat helicopter comparable in efficiency to the Apache. After the curtailment of work on a joint Franco-Italian attack helicopter, the French company Aerospatiale and the West German Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in 1984 entered into an agreement to begin the design of a promising attack helicopter. Since the views of the French and German military regarding the composition of avionics and weapons differed significantly, there should have been a common platform on which each side could install equipment and weapons at its own discretion.
Since the FRG was directly threatened by a large Soviet tank group, the West German Bundesluftwaffe needed an anti-tank helicopter capable of operating around the clock in conditions of strong anti-aircraft resistance. The command of the French Armee de l'Air would like to get a relatively light and simple machine, cheap enough to manufacture and with good export potential. The helicopter, intended for the French army aviation, did not have strict requirements for all-weather and all-day use, in fact, the French wanted to get, first of all, a rotary-wing armored attack aircraft designed to provide fire support, escort transport-assault helicopters and combat enemy combat helicopters. At the same time, the parties agreed that even despite the increase in the cost of the program, it would be a well-protected helicopter, the design of which was supposed to use the latest achievements in the field of creating composite armor, developments in the field of reducing radar and thermal signature. Noisiness is also minimized, according to this indicator "Tiger" was subsequently able to surpass the rather "quiet" AH-64D Apache. When creating the helicopter, the latest technical advances in the field of materials science were used: composites, Kevlar, elastomeric bearings, fiberglass, carbon fiber reinforced plastics, etc. In the construction of the "Tiger" there is a very high proportion of modern lightweight composite materials and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (about 75%), approximately 18% of the mass is accounted for by alloys of aluminum, magnesium and titanium. When designing a European attack helicopter, due to the use of modern structural materials and the use of specially created innovative graphic programs for computer calculations, a high weight perfection was achieved. At the same time, the strength of the "Tiger" is not inferior to other existing models of combat helicopters. Operating overload is within: + 3.5 / -0.5 G.
The fuselage, made of composites, was supposed to keep the hits of single 23-mm high-explosive fragmentation shells. Protected fuel tanks with a total capacity of 1360 liters are designed to be hit by 14.5 mm armor-piercing bullets. The cockpit is quite narrow, its width is about 1 meter, which should reduce the likelihood of being hit by anti-aircraft fire from the frontal projection when approaching the target. The windshield of the cockpit is capable of withstanding 12.7 mm bullets, and the side glass is guaranteed to hold armor-piercing rifle caliber bullets fired at close range. To increase the security of the cabin, the use of additional removable combined armor and movable armored shields for the operator and the pilot is provided. The helicopter pilot is located in the first cockpit, and the weapons operator is above and behind him. The operator also has helicopter controls. The channels of the fly-by-wire helicopter control system have double redundancy. The complex of measures of combat survivability includes duplication of vital components and shielding them with less important ones, as well as the presence of an armored partition between the engines. Since one of the most vulnerable points of a combat helicopter is the tail boom with the tail rotor, the tubular drive shaft of the tail rotor with a diameter of 130 mm is made of ballistic-resistant polymer material reinforced with carbon fibers. The standard requirement was the ability to continue flying for 30 minutes after the lubricant had flowed out of the gearbox. It is stated that the two-stage gearbox is capable of withstanding the impact of 12.7 mm bullets. Initially, the four blades of the main non-hinged propeller with a diameter of 13 meters were designed for a lumbago with 23-mm armor-piercing projectiles, but later the developers were able to ensure that they remain operational only in case of penetration of 14, 5-20 mm ammunition. The shock absorbers of the chassis and seats must ensure the survival of the crew when falling at a speed of up to 11, 5 m / s. Of the existing combat helicopters, the Tiger is best protected from lightning strikes and electromagnetic impulses. This is achieved thanks to a solid screen made of fine-mesh copper mesh, bronze foil and a metallized coating of the cockpit glass.
In the second half of the 80s, the program of creating a "European" combat helicopter was under threat of closure. The governments of France and Germany refused to fund the necessary research and development of advanced electronic systems. In addition, the United States actively imposed the AH-64 Apache on its allies. At the same time, there were no guarantees that the Franco-German attack helicopter would be able to surpass or even be equal in combat effectiveness with the Apache. However, considerations of national prestige and the need to develop their own scientific, technological and industrial base forced the French and Germans to continue their research. At the same time, in the period from 1985 to 1987, the development of avionics was carried out by Thomson CSF at its own expense. Only in 1989 did the governments of the countries participating in the program come to a formal decision regarding development and financing. To create a promising combat helicopter in 1992, the Franco-German consortium Eurocopter Group was formed. The head office of the company is located at the Marseille Provence airport in France.
The main production facilities of the company are located in Marignane. The German subsidiary of Helicopters Deutschland GmbH is located in Donauwörth. The UK was ready to join the program in case of its success, for this it was envisaged to create a modification with weapons and avionics of British production. However, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact almost became the reason for the curtailment of work. However, by that time, a significant part of the development work had been completed, and on April 27, 1991, the first prototype of the combat helicopter completed a half-hour flight. But due to a decrease in priority and a reduction in funding, the pace of construction of prototypes has seriously slowed down. During flight tests in 1994, it turned out that both the engines themselves and their control equipment needed significant improvement. The equipment of the digital automatic flight control system was unreliable. The main and tail rotor were subject to increased vibration. It was only at the end of 1996 that the final decision was made to start mass production. By that time, due to the uncertainty of the Eurocopter's prospects, the British had opted for the Apache.
In June 1999, the military departments of France and Germany placed an order for 160 copies of the "Tiger" in 3 versions. The first deliveries of serial helicopters to combat units began in March 2005. The cheapest modification of the EC665 Tiger HAP in 2012 cost the French army $ 36 million. By the end of 2009, 50 "Tigers" were delivered to the troops, which spent more than 13,000 hours in the air.
Due to the large proportion of composite materials, carbon fiber reinforced plastics and titanium in the fuselage structure, and relatively small dimensions, the Tiger's maximum take-off weight is about 4 tons less than that of the AH-64D. The Eurocopter prototype was powered by two MTU / Turbomeca / Rolls-Royce MTR 390 turboshaft engines with a takeoff power of 1100 hp. However, later the engine power on serial helicopters was brought to 1464 hp. In emergency mode, for a short period of time, the power can reach 1774 hp. Tiger HAP with a maximum takeoff weight of 6000 kg has a combat radius of 400 km, and is capable of accelerating in horizontal flight up to 315 km / h. Cruising flight speed - 271 km / h.
Based on one basic design of Eurocopter, it was decided to build three helicopters for various purposes, differing in the composition of avionics and weapons. For the French army aviation, a multipurpose version of the Tiger NAR (Helicoptere d'Appui Protection - Russian. Escort and protection helicopter) was intended. Armed with 68-mm unguided rockets, suspended nacelles with 20-mm cannons and Mistral or FIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, this vehicle should provide fire support for ground forces or escort transport and anti-tank helicopters to protect them from fighters and enemy combat helicopters.
The command of the French army aviation is considering helicopters of the Tiger NAR modification as a means of combating an air enemy. At the same time, in the process of training the crews of combat helicopters, a lot of time was allocated for practicing the skills of air combat. Thanks to its excellent maneuverability, the helicopter can quickly take an advantageous position to attack an air target. Combat helicopter "Tiger" is capable of performing aerobatics, including "barrel" and "looping".
The Tiger HAC (Helicoptere Anti-Char - Russian anti-tank helicopter) was intended to combat armored vehicles and replace the anti-tank "Gazelles" and "Panthers". The West German combat helicopter was designated Tiger PAH-2. From the very beginning, ATGM NOT-3 should have been part of its armament. All variants of the "Tiger", except for the German ones, were armed with a 30-mm turret cannon GIAT 30M-781 with an ammunition load of up to 450 rounds.
The GIAT 30 aircraft cannon is designed to replace the DEFA 550 with gas-operated automation. Unlike its predecessor, the GIAT 30 automatics are electrically driven. The weight of the gun without ammunition and guidance drives is 65 kg. Rate of fire 750 rds / min. The muzzle velocity of a 244 g armor-piercing projectile is 850 m / s. The gun turret is controlled using a helmet-mounted sight. On German helicopters, the helmet-mounted sight from the British company BAe is used only for targeting ATGM and NAR. The French use the HMS type sight, developed by Thales TopOwl Avionique. The accuracy of firing from the cannon is very high, the ability to shoot down short bursts of air targets flying at a transonic speed at a distance of about a kilometer and to hit single 30-mm projectiles at growth targets was repeatedly demonstrated at the test site.
Since the "Tiger" was developed relatively recently, it was equipped from the very beginning with a very advanced avionics. The crew has at their disposal stabilized sighting and surveillance infrared and television systems, night vision equipment FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared), helmet-mounted binocular sights and flight information indicators on the windshield.
The central element of the search and sighting system of the French "Tiger" is the stabilized optoelectronic platform Strix manufactured by the French company SFIM Industries. A movable sphere with optoelectronic sensors and lasers is installed above the weapons operator's cab. As part of the Strix equipment, in addition to a thermal imager, a high-resolution television system with day and night optical channels, there is a laser rangefinder-target designator capable of simultaneously illuminating several targets. At a distance of 9 km, it measures the distance with an accuracy of ± 5 m.
Tiger became the first serial helicopter, on the dashboard of which, from the very first serial model, multifunctional LCD displays measuring 15, 2x15, 2 cm were installed. The helicopters can exchange information with each other and with ground control points via a high-speed secure digital radio channel. To protect against ground air defense systems and enemy fighters, helicopters of the Tiger family are equipped with equipment manufactured by EADS Defense Electronics. The signals from the RWR multi-frequency radar warning receivers and the LWR laser warning sensors are analyzed by an onboard computer system. In this case, the azimuth is determined and irradiation occurs from above or below. The fixation of launches of anti-aircraft and air-to-air missiles is carried out by sensors of the AN / AAP-60 system. Based on the nature of the threat, the helicopter crew decides to build an evasion maneuver, use electronic jamming equipment, heat and radar traps.
In the course of mass production in 2012, the French army aviation received an improved version of the Tiger HAD (Hélicoptère d'Appui Destruction - Russian. For fighting helicopters). Despite the name, it is more of an anti-tank version, equipped with American laser-guided AGM-114K Hellfire II ATGMs or Israeli Spike ER.
It is reported that this modification has enhanced cab protection and MTR390-E engines with a takeoff power of 1,668 hp. "Tigers" of this model are also supplied to Spain. The Australian Army ordered 22 Tiger ARH helicopters to replace the OH-58 Kiowa strike reconnaissance helicopter. They differ from the Tiger HAD in the composition of communication and navigation equipment, instead of the French 68-mm NAR SNEB, Australian vehicles use 70-mm NAR of Belgian production, which are similar to the American Hydra 70 rockets. Cirit missiles or 68-mm ACULEUS LG laser-guided missiles.
Until 2023, France plans to upgrade all Tiger HAD helicopters to the Tiger HAD Mark II level. After the upgrade, it will be possible to use AGM-114K Hellfire II, Cirit or ACULEUS LG missiles, and navigation and communication equipment will also be updated. The use of MTR390-E engines will increase the rate of climb and maneuverability. A significant part of the engine power reserve is aimed at increasing protection. Thus, a significant increase in the thickness of the side armored glasses of the cockpit and the operator is planned. A total of 67 helicopters are to be converted into the Tiger HAD Mark II variant. After 2025, it is planned to begin serial construction of the Tiger HAD Mark III modification. It is envisaged that this vehicle may be equipped with a radar with a supra-sleeve antenna. This will increase the information awareness of the crew and make it possible to use ATGMs with radar guidance in the “fire and forget” mode. At the moment, the possibility of using the American AN / APG-78 radar is being investigated. However, critics of the modernization program point to its excessive cost, since only the cost of the American millimeter-wave radar exceeds $ 2 million. Already, the cost of one Tiger HAD Mark II is more than $ 50 million. At present, all rights to the production of Tiger family combat helicopters belong to the company. Airbus Helicopters.
In March 2013, an agreement was signed between the German government and Eurocopter for the supply of 57 helicopters of the UH Tiger modification (Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger - Russian Tiger support helicopter). The main purpose of the West German combat helicopter is to combat tanks, conduct aerial reconnaissance, adjust artillery fire and issue target designations to ground and aviation precision weapons systems. Due to the different views of the French and German military regarding the role of the "Tiger" in modern combat, the composition of the avionics and weapons of the Tiger HAD and UH Tiger differ significantly.
As already mentioned, the helicopters used in the Bundeswehr lack the 30mm cannon. Instead of a turret gun mount, German helicopters are equipped with FLIR night vision equipment. Initially, the main weapon of the German flying "Tigers" were ATGM NOT-3. However, the obsolete wire-guided anti-tank missiles have now been replaced by the PARS 3 LR, also known as the TRIGAT LR (Third-Generation Anti-Tank). The deliveries of PARS 3 missiles (Рanzerabwehr rakensystem 3 - Russian anti-tank missile system 3) to the armed forces of the FRG began in 2012. The development of the rocket has been carried out since 1981 by Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm, Aerospatiale and BAe Dynamics.
ATGM PARS 3 LR weighs 49 kg and carries a 9 kg tandem warhead with 1000 mm armor penetration. The launch range is up to 7000 m. The flight speed is about 300 m / s. In addition to the steering surfaces, the rocket is equipped with a thrust vectoring device, which provides excellent maneuverability. Combined guidance system: television and thermal, capable of functioning in the "fire and forget" mode. Depending on the altitude, launch range and the nature of the target, the onboard processor chooses the optimal trajectory and flight altitude. Four missiles can be fired at different targets in 8 seconds. In addition to fighting armored vehicles, ATGM can be used against air targets, for this there is a proximity fuse.
The UH Tiger helicopter is equipped with an Osiris supra-sleeve reconnaissance and sighting system, which includes stabilization equipment, a highly sensitive thermal imager, a high-resolution television camera, and a multi-channel laser rangefinder-target designator. The Osiris complex was developed by SFIM Industries and put into service in 2010. The over-sleeve RPK has high performance. So, according to advertising data, the detection range on a television channel in the daytime and in conditions of good visibility is 55 km. With the improved thermal imager, objects can be identified at a distance of up to 18 km. The laser rangefinder-designator is capable of measuring the distance and illuminating the target at a distance of up to 27 km.
Search for enemy armored vehicles is possible when the helicopter is behind cover in hover mode. At the same time, only a ball with optoelectronic sensors peeps out from behind the crowns of trees, buildings or natural hills. After detecting and identifying the target, using a laser rangefinder, the distance to the target is determined. If the target is in the kill zone, the weapon operator engages. After that, the equipment of the sighting complex takes it for automatic tracking via the thermal imaging channel. At the same time, the target of the IR-GOS missile is locked. After the decision to open fire is made, the helicopter "jumps" out of cover, the missile seeker carries out the final "stabilization" and an automatic launch occurs. Further, the ATGM is guided autonomously using a thermal imaging seeker. The next missile can be fired at the same or a different target as soon as it is captured. According to the stated data, "Osiris" is capable of issuing target designation simultaneously for four targets. The use of rockets is possible at any time of the day. At the same time, foreign experts note that the real combat effectiveness of missiles with IR-GOS and an aiming search system may not be as high as stated. The operability of the Osiris equipment and the guidance process of PARS 3 LR missiles can be very significantly influenced by weather factors, organized interference, camouflage and smoke. In addition to ATGM NOT-3 and PARS 3 LR, the German UH Tiger is capable of carrying blocks with 70-mm NAR, containers with 12, 7-mm machine guns and air combat missiles FIM-92 Stinger. Thus, on the Bundeswehr helicopters, there is a pronounced reconnaissance and anti-tank specialization, while the French "Tigers" are more versatile machines.
All UH Tiger combatants are part of the 36th anti-tank helicopter regiment. After the decommissioning of the last Bo-105s from the ATGM NOT in 2014, there are no other anti-tank helicopters left in the Bundeswehr. The home of the 36th regiment is considered to be the Fritzlar airbase in the northern part of Hesse. Compared to French combat helicopters, German Tigers fly much less and spend most of the time in hangars.
Until 2009, the refinement of the avionics of the helicopters continued, and they were used mainly for training flights. It was not until 2011 that it was announced that the first batch of German Tigers had reached the "operational readiness level." Nevertheless, the German magazine Der Spiegel wrote about numerous technical problems and the low level of equipment reliability of UH Tiger helicopters. Most of the complaints were about the software compatibility of the search and targeting systems and weapons, as well as the work of the EDSU. In this regard, representatives of Eurocopter said that they had agreed with the customer a set of measures to remedy the situation, the modernization program was named ASGARD. In 2012, the main claims of the military were eliminated, and four Tigers were transferred to the Mazar-i-Sharif airbase in Afghanistan.
From January 30, 2013 to June 30, 2014, the helicopters made more than 260 flights, spending 1860 hours in the air. They were attracted mainly for aerial reconnaissance, patrolling, escorting convoys and transport helicopters. Despite the rather intensive use, the crews of German attack helicopters have never used weapons in Afghanistan. In March 2017, two German Tigers were deployed to Mali as part of a UN peacekeeping operation. On July 26, 2017, one of the two German "Tigers" for some unknown reason crashed in the desert 70 km north of Gao, both pilots were killed in a helicopter crash.
Unlike the Bundeswehr, the French armed forces are quite actively exploiting their combat helicopters and using them in hostilities. In July 2009, three French Tiger HAPs arrived at Kabul International Airport. The French Tigers, along with the American and British Apaches, participated in military operations against the Taliban, conducted armed reconnaissance and provided fire support to ground units, spending more than 1000 hours in the air.
In a number of cases, Hellfire guided missiles with a thermobaric warhead were used to destroy vehicles and buildings occupied by the enemy. On February 4, 2011, Tiger HAP crashed during a night combat mission 40 km east of Kabul, both crew members escaped with minor injuries and were promptly evacuated by an American search and rescue helicopter.
In 2011, during the intervention against Libya, four Tigers operated from the deck of the UDC Tonnerre (L9014) of the Mistral class. At the same time, the British used their WAH-64D Apache in parallel from the HMS Ocean helicopter carrier. At the end of the operation, a NATO spokesman, Colonel Thierry Burkhard, said that the crews of French combat helicopters managed to destroy a dozen armored vehicles and five stationary targets.
In January 2013, France intervened in the internal conflict in Mali. Several Tiger HAPs and SA.342 Gazelles took part in the fighting in Operation Serval, striking at the positions of the Islamists and destroying their vehicles.
It is reported that as a result of the actions of combat helicopters, up to two hundred militants and three dozen trucks and armed SUVs were destroyed. At the same time, as a result of shelling from the ground, one pilot of the anti-tank Gazelle was killed, and the helicopter itself was subsequently written off due to multiple damages. "Tigers" also suffered damage from small arms fire and large-caliber machine guns, but this did not lead to serious consequences. The hostilities in Mali at a certain stage were broad in scope and fierce. Based on combat experience, the French military concluded that, despite forecasts, armed drones are not yet capable of replacing armored combat helicopters. In those cases when, under the enemy's anti-aircraft fire, it was necessary to fire a volley of several dozen NARs or hit a point target from a cannon, the Tigers were out of competition.
Despite the high flight data and a very advanced design, as of mid-2017, only 135 serial Tiger combat helicopters had been built. Although in terms of the level of security it is at least not inferior, and in terms of flight data it surpasses the American Apache, the Eurocopter still loses to the AH-64D / E in terms of combat capabilities at a comparable cost of the new aircraft. The crew of the Franco-German combat helicopter is not yet capable of directing UAV operations in flight and receiving reconnaissance information from them. In addition, there is still no millimeter-wave radar on board the Tiger, which in turn reduces reconnaissance capabilities and prevents the use of radar-guided missiles. As you know, the main advantage of "Hellfires" with radar seeker is the possibility of multichannel use, and the implementation of the "let it out and forget" mode, regardless of weather conditions. The main reason for the small number of built "Tigers" is the end of the "cold war" and too long period of development and adoption. That is why the Netherlands and Great Britain have abandoned Eurocopter. And the very high cost, combined with expensive service, makes it unattractive for foreign buyers with limited funds.