German army gets first Tigers upgraded for Afghan duty

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Eurocopter expects the German army to make its first operational deployment to Afghanistan with the Tiger support helicopter in late 2012 or early next year, having already delivered a first batch of aircraft to have been modified for such a commitment.

Four Tigers have been upgraded so far under the Afghanistan Stabilisation German Army Rapid Deployment (ASGARD) programme, Eurocopter announced on 12 September. Adaptations made to the type include "a sand filter, additional defence weaponry, a mission data recorder and enhanced communications equipment for multinational missions", the company says.

Deliveries of the upgraded aircraft began to the army's 36 Combat Helicopter Regt in Fritzlar in July, with a second batch of four to be handed over from December, says Eurocopter. It has so far handed over a total of 27 Tigers originally built to the UHT configuration to the German army (example pictured below at the ILA Berlin air show).

 

Messe Berlin

If confirmed, a German decision to deploy the Tiger to Afghanistan would follow France's use of the armed type in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. Berlin could also send some of its NH Industries NH90 tactical transport helicopters to the country in mid-2013, according to Eurocopter, with the aircraft to carry medical evacuation equipment.