Germany and Eurocopter start negotiations over Tiger cuts

Paris
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Eurocopter and the German government have started a series of meetings as the pair attempt to thrash out an agreement over Berlin's plans to dramatically reduce its order for 80 Tiger attack helicopters.

Speaking at the airframer's annual press briefing in Paris, chief executive Lutz Bertling said the first two meetings between the parties had taken place.

Although reports suggested Germany was looking to deploy only 40 of the aircraft, Bertling said the country will "buy significantly more helicopters than they will deploy".

"Just because [they intend to field] 40 Tigers, it doesn't mean that Tiger production will stop at 40," he said. "I can't tell you exactly, but it will be significantly higher than 40."

 

© Rémy Michelin/Eurocopter

The nation will look to take the latest configuration of the type, he said, and retire or sell earlier examples. The final delivery total will be "between 55 and 70", Bertling said.

German investment in new equipment has not been cut, Bertling added, but the German defence minister is looking for the freedom to renegotiate or modify existing orders to better reflect its operational needs.

Eurocopter is "prepared to enter into constructive dialogue" over its existing programme commitments to Germany, he said. However, it expects to receive compensation in the form of "new orders for programmes" that reflect Germany's "new needs" - for instance, swapping Tiger orders for NH Industries NH90 troop transports or naval helicopters.

He added: "I am not too afraid. The net impact is that we will change the operational profile and capability we will deliver to the Germans. We will arrive at something that makes sense for both sides. It doesn't make sense for Germany to buy helicopters it doesn't need any more, or for it to kill [its] industry with cancellations. We are flexible about changing the content of the order."

Eurocopter has handed over 22 Tigers to Germany so far, with the 23rd currently undergoing modifications by the company, including a package of improved self-protection and communications equipment ordered under the country's Asgard upgrade. This aircraft will be handed over to Germany by August, said Bertling.