Australian Tiger ARH

As a follow-on to previous discussions on the NH 90 which, according to some, is not performing up to expectations, it's interesting to read that Jane's report.

Considering that for year FRA SF said they wanted to stay well clear of the "over complicated and hard to maintain in the field" NH-90, it is meaningful that such an operationally experienced Avn unit as the 4°RHFS (the FRA Army SF Avn Regiment) now seem to want to speed up delivery of the NH 90 so it can replace its EC-725 Mk II with it......

Paris Air Show 2015: French special forces look to modify NH90
Frédéric Lert, Paris - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
18 June 2015

France's special forces are poised to begin operating the NHIndustries NH90 Caïman sooner than expected, after the helicopter proved itself during Operation 'Barkhane' in Mali, French military sources told IHS Jane's at the Paris Air Show.

Personnel (pilots, flight engineers, and maintenance specialists) from the 4ème Régiment d'Hélicoptères des Forces Spéciales (HFS) will travel to the Gamstat (French army aviation test centre) in Valence in July to familiarise themselves with the NH90, a Gamstat officer said.


For the 4ème RHFS the NH90 will replace the Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal. An entry into service with the Pau-based regiment could be attained in 2018, several years ahead of previous projections.

Compared with the H225 Caracal, the NH90 offers better range and speed, and notably has better engine efficiency in certain conditions.


Within a few months, the Malian theatre should receive a third NH90 and a plan exists to send a fourth one in due course. Fifteen have been delivered so far, as the availability of the airframes is not an issue, but the French Army Light Aviation (ALAT) is struggling to train more crew and maintenance specialists.

And some good news on the Tigre too:

Paris Air Show 2015: France keeps investing in Tiger attack helicopters, launches new missile programme
Frédéric Lert, Paris - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
15 June 2015

France is continuing to invest in the development of its Tiger attack helicopters, and is expected to soon launch a programme for a new long-range missile, known as FAST-M, to replace the AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missile.

The FAST-M programme could be launched as early as this year, for an entry into service soon after 2020.

Speaking to IHS Jane's, an officer in the French Army's Light Aviation (ALAT) stated, "I can't imagine having the Tiger Standard 3 entering service around 2023 without an associated missile."

France is also set to speed up its laser-guided rocket programme for the Tiger, following amendments to the 2014-19 military programme law (LPM) to accelerate the project. This should give the ALAT the ability to bring forward the entry into service by six years to 2020.

More here:

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I don't think many would suggest that NH90 doesn't have the potential to become an excellent battlefield helicopter Fantassin and it may already be so in French service. However, it is undeniable that a disproportionate number of customers have experienced problems which can be broadly described as 'flies well and nice cockpit but...'

As a result, several nations have had to modify their aircraft, are in the process of doing so, are seeking funding for modifications, or have procured other types to deploy on ops while fixes are obtained. Some of that is inevitably because it's a new aircraft and all new aircraft have bugs which need resolving. Some of that is due to poor assessment of the type's suitability for national needs (Australia). However, when Australia (poor reliability, cargo area configuration and resilience with the type not expected to be deployable until 2017 at the earliest), Finland (availability figures as low as 19%), the Netherlands (corrosion and 103 other shortcomings, of which Airbus agreed to rectify a significant proportion), NZ (cargo area configuration and resilience), Norway (unspecified concerns resulting in delays to delivery and enquiries on MH-60 availability) and Sweden (procured UH-60M to deploy on ops and do not anticipate NH90 becoming operational for several years yet) have experienced such issues it indicates some inherent weaknesses (in early production models at least). Anecdotally, I understand that France also modified their initial NH90 and paid for further mods on the production line.

Previously you've mentioned that some nations need to stop whinging and become 'doers'. Given the problems above, it is very difficult for some nations to justify additional money domestically to upgrade a brand new helicopter as soon as it's delivered. That I suspect is why some nations are still unable to deploy their NH90 (and Tigres).

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Australian auditor heavily criticises Tiger.

I'm sure some of the underlying issues were poor analysis and specification definition. However, I think it's fair to say that this doesn't make great reading for Airbus and the Australian Army.


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