Eurocopter Spain has launched flight test activities with the first Tiger HAD attack helicopter, and expects the aircraft to commence live firing trials soon.
In development for the Spanish and French armies, the multi-role HAD configuration introduces more powerful MTRI MTR390-E turboshaft engines to the Tiger, which has a maximum take-off weight of around 6.6t.
Launched at Albacete in mid-September, the new test campaign is expected to continue until December 2011. Near-term objectives include test firings with MBDA’s Mistral air-to-air missile and Rafael’s Spike air-to-surface missile, to be performed before the end of this year.
© La Mancha Press/Eurocopter
Pictured during its Spanish flight debut, aircraft 5001 is the first Tiger to have been converted to the new HAD standard for the nation. It was first flown in support of the programme in December 2007 at Eurocopter’s Marignane production facility in France.
The latest sortie followed a four-month programme of modifications, including installing new mission software.
“This is the first time that Eurocopter Spain has taken on the responsibility for testing a helicopter prototype,” says Liberto Negral, the company’s head of governmental programmes in the country. The flight tests are “proceeding very well and are on time,” he adds. Spain will receive its first of 24 production examples in early 2012.
Eurocopter says there are now 57 Tigers in operational use with the armies of Australia, France, Germany and Spain. Madrid is using an initial batch of five HAP-configured aircraft to support its future operation of the multi-role Tiger.