The Tiger ARH helicopter first entered service in December 2004, currently in service with two Canberra-class helicopter landing docks (LHD) of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN)
With the decision to order 29 AH-64E heavy attack helicopters from the US, Australia will officially phase out 25 Tiger attack helicopters developed by Europe, although they are still very new. According to the Australian Department of Defense’s plan, a fleet of high-tech Apache helicopters will be in service with the Army from 2025.
The Australian Tiger helicopters are relatively new and their service life is estimated to be more than ten years. Helicopters made in the US and Europe usually have good performance for about 30 years. With the order of the new AH-64Es, Australia will gradually phase out the Tiger helicopters, which can be sold cheaply or delivered free of charge to Australia-friendly countries. The destination of the Tigers may be the Southeast Asian countries, which have quite good relations with Australia, and Australia is also supporting these countries in ensuring the order and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
The Tiger ARH (or Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) is the version ordered by the Australian Army to replace its OH-58 Kiowas and UH-1 Iroquois-based ‘Bushranger’ gunships. The Tiger ARH is a modified and upgraded version of the Tiger HAP with upgraded MTR390 engines as well as a laser designator incorporated in the Strix sight for the firing of Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles.
Instead of SNEB unguided rockets, the ARH will use Belgian 70 mm rockets. Twenty-two of the variant were ordered in December 2001. Most of the helicopters will be operated by the 1st Aviation Regiment based at Robertson Barracks in Darwin. The helicopter was shipped to Australia in part form and locally assembled at Brisbane Airport by Australia Aerospace.
Tiger helicopters are the product of cooperation between three leading defense industries in Europe: Germany, France and Spain. The Tiger is capable of undertaking a wide range of combat missions, including armed reconnaissance and surveillance, anti-tank and close air support, escort and protection of friendly assets; and can operate during day or night in all-weather conditions, and has been designed to include operations in the aftermath of nuclear, biological, or chemical warfare. The Tiger can also be used in the maritime environment, able to operate from the decks of ships including frigates and during extreme weather conditions.
Amongst the Tiger’s notable qualities, it possesses very high levels of agility, much of which is attributed to the design of its 13-meter four-bladed hingeless main rotor; the Tiger can perform full loops and negative g manoeuvres. Power is provided by a pair of FADEC-controlled MTU Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 turboshaft engines.