Eurocopter has begun flight testing the HAD version of the Tiger attack helicopter, under development for France and Spain. The helicopter, serial number 5001, made its frst flight from Marignane, France on 14 December.

The HAD version of the Tiger features uprated MTR390-E engines, improved ballistic protection and a new electronic warfare system. Spain's HADs will be armed with the Israeli Rafael Spike-ER air-to-surface missile, while France's HADs will carry the Lockheed Martin Hellfire II.

Aircraft 5001 is the first series-production HAD for the Spanish army, and will be transferred to Eurocopter Spain in 2009 to support development. Qualification and first deliveries of the new Tiger version are planned for the end of 2010.

Tiger HAD first flight
                                                                                                © Eurocopter

France has ordered 40 Tiger HADs, while Spain has ordered 18 plus the retrofit of its six Tiger HAPs to HAD standard. Total Tiger orders now stand at 80 each for France and Germany, 22 for Australia and 24 for Spain.

Developed by MTRI, a consortium of MTU, Turbomeca and Rolls-Royce and ITP, the enhanced MTR390-E produces 14% more power for improved hot-and-high performance. Take-off power is increased to 1,470shp.