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Tiger helicopter upgrade enters de-risking phase

Europe's OCCAR defence procurement agency has placed two multinational de-risking contracts linked to a planned mid-life upgrade for the Airbus Helicopters Tiger, which will bring the attack platform to an enhanced Mk III standard.

Announcing the development in late September, OCCAR said the agreements with Airbus Helicopters, guided weapons specialist MBDA and avionics provider Thales follow a three-year study period conducted on the behalf of partner operators France, Germany and Spain.

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"Mk III will integrate advanced technologies, such as a new avionics suite, and will provide an improved weapon system, allowing Tiger to keep superiority on the battlefield for the next decades," OCCAR says. It has previously outlined a plan for the first modernised rotorcraft to be returned to operational use in the 2025-2026 timeframe.

Welcoming the development, Thales says the project "is an opportunity to propose the latest-generation interactive cockpit and upgraded TopOwl helmet-mounted sight and display." It expects the updated attack helicopter to be capable of facing "new and emerging threats" until reaching an out-of-service date "beyond 2040".

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that France, Germany and Spain have a combined 139 Tigers in current active use. Airbus Helicopters' only non-European operator, Australia – which has 22 examples in its army aviation inventory – has previously indicated its intention to replace the type during the next decade.

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