Poland’s hesitation when it concerns miltary helicopters must drive manufacturers out of their minds, and Airbus Helicopters especially. The company saw a 3 billion USD deal for H225M Caracal choppers fall through earlier this year and now wants Poland to select the Tiger as its new attack helicopter. Best cards are for the AH-64 Apache and AH-1Z Viper, however.
Airbus Helicopters is ‘laying the groundwork’ for future Tiger production in Poland in the same way it has been doing with the Caracal, says a statement released on Thursday 28 April. The European company taps into the fact that disagreements over off sets eventually caused the Caracal to largely collapse.
Poland doesn’t seem to have much eye for the Airbus Helicopter offer and mostly looks at the AH-64 Apache or AH-1Z Viper as its new attack helo. The former would be locally built by PZL Swidnik, while the latter could be produced by PZL Mielec.
Warsaw has a history troublesome history when it comes to selecting helicopters, however. A long process led to the selection of the Caracal as the country’s new combat search and rescue (CSAR) platform… until it was decided to look at other contenders once again.
Meanwhile, classic Mi-8 Hip transport helicopters soldier on and ageing Mi-24 Hind helicopters keep fulfilling the attack role.
The struggle could be associated with the fact that Poland also modestly produces helicopters on its own. PZL Swidnik furthermore is tied to AgustaWestLan, while PZL Mielec is involved with Sikorysky.
Airbus Helicopters chalked up an order for seven more Tiger attack helos from France on Tuesday 22 December. Deliveries of these additional helicopters are due in 2017 and 2018. The order brings the total number of Tigers that will eventually be operated by the French Army Aviation up to 67.
“The French Army Aviation have put the Tiger to the test in multiple theatres and the aircraft has proved essential to the success of their missions,” said Guillaume Faury, president and CEO of Airbus Helicopters in a statement on the additional Tiger order.
Since July 2009, Tigers have been deployed continuously by the French Army in different areas, such as Afghanistan, Libya and the African Sahel region. While deployments in Afghanistan and Libya have come to an end, Tigers are still supporting missions in the Sahel, logging more than 2,000 flight hours since the start of deployment in January 2013.
To date, Airbus Helicopters has delivered more than 120 Tiger helicopters to France, Germany, Spain and Australia and the type has accumulated more than 68,000 flying hours.
The Tigers are go again! For the next two weeks, Konya airbase in Turkey is home to NATO’s Tiger Meet. However, this year’s gathering of tigers is noticably smaller than previous gatherings, with real-world events and other exercises taking their toll on the exercise.
Hosting the Tiger Meet is the Turkish Air Force’s 192 Filo, which nicely painted up at least two of their F-16s in tiger colours. Also taking part are F-16s from Poland, F/A-18 Hornets from Switzerland, Dassault Rafales from France, plus AB-212 choppers from Italy.
Een foto die is geplaatst door Alperen Taşkın (@bitingwolf141) op
Cancellations Many NATO tiger units had to cancel their participation over deployments elsewhere. Dutch and Belgian F-16s currently see use in anger over Iraq, while Norwegian F-16s have just started Quick Reaction Alert duties over the Baltic states. Furthermore, Norway is busy preparing for large scale exercise Arctic Challenge, a joint Scandinavian training exercise starting 25 May. Also absent in Konya are Saab Gripens operated by the Czech Republic and Hungary. They prefer next week’s Lion Effort 2015 exercise at Čáslav in the Czech Republic over the Tiger Meet. Nevertheless, the Tigers will roar over Turkey for the next two weeks. The Tiger Meet is scheduled to end on 15 May. Click here for an impression of last year’s Tiger Meet. See more Tiger stuff here.
The Swiss Air Force is retiring ten out of 36 operational F-5 Tigers due to structural cracks found in the aicraft. As reported earlier here on Airheadsfly.com, cracks where found last year in some Tigers. Inspections on all aircraft have now finished and problems were found on 16 in total. Six will be repaired, ten will be disposed of.
Repair costs for the six savable aircraft are estimated at 1 million Swiss francs, which roughly equals 1 million euro. Among these six are five aircraft used by aerial demonstration team Patrouille Suisse.
The Swiss will see their active F-5 Tiger fleet reduced from 36 to 26 by this decision, made possible by fleet optimization and leading to cost savings. Between 1978 and 1984, the Swiss Air Force ordered a total of 98 single-seat F-5E and 12 two-seat F-5F aircraft. A significant number was since sold the US Navy, which has been using the Tigers as aggressor aircraft. A total of 54 F-5 is still being kept in Switzerland, with some being stored.
Assessment of the Swiss fleet carried out together with RUAG and Armasuisse. Repairs are expected to last until the end of the first quarter of 2016. Patrouille Suisse will partly use regular F-5s until all of their red and white aircraft are repaired.
The decision confirms that the Swiss will use their F-5s also from 2016 on. Earlier reports indicated that all Tigers would be retired in that year, but parliament in Bern decided otherwise.
Despite problems with quality control and the availability of spare parts for the Airbus Helicopters / NHIndustries NH90s of the German Army Aviation, the German Navy got the green light for the procurement of 18 NH90 Sea Lion maritime helicopters this week.
Berlin wants the Nato Frigate Helicopter (NFH) version of the NH90 to replace the aging Westland Mk 41 Sea King operating with Marinefliegergeschwader 5 (MFG5) at Nordholz, and the MFG5’s Westland Mk 88A Sea Lynx choppers that fly from German Navy frigates. The deal was okayed on 4 March 2015.
The land-based NH90 Sea Lions will operate as troop-insertion platform, support for naval special forces and as search-and-rescue chopper. The Sea Lion will be about 60 knots faster than the Sea King, which is one of the reasons why the Navy wants to move quickly forward with the purchase.
German Army Aviation
The Bundeswehr will go ahead with downsizing of the NH90 fleet. As propositioned earlier the Heeresflieger (German Army Aviation) will only get 80 NH90 TTHs, instead of the 134 originally planned a decade ago. Thirty-six were delivered at the end of 2014, but the introduction has been plagued by big operational issues and not even a single NH90 is said to be in full promised operational status. Another two NH90s will be purchased as training system.
Tiger attack helicopter
At the same time the Army Aviation has got to say bye-bye to 11 of its EC665 Tiger attack helicopters of the oldest batch. Berlin has set the operational level to 40 Tigers in total, while Airbus Helicopters delivers another 17 for attrition replacement, testing and training. After complaints about its quality on the battlefield the German Army finally received the last of a dozen upgraded Tiger UHT support helicopters in March 2014.