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Upgraded French Army Tigers to Become Operational By Fall 2008

The French Army is proceeding with operational testing of three helicopters of the first batch of upgraded Eurocopter EC665 Tiger HAP (known as 'Step 2'). The helicopters were tested recently by their intended unit, the French Army's 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment (5th RHC), based in Pau. As the upgraded Tigers as they become operational by fall 2008, 5th RHC is expected to field the first 'module' of four Tigers in foreign missions deployment readiness. According to Colonel Darricau, commander of 5th RHC, by 2010 the regiment is scheduled to have two Tiger squadrons, each with 8 aircraft, supported by a squadron of Gazelles and three Puma squadrons. (More...)

The Step 2 version is the most recent variant of the EC665. HAP is a model of the Tiger dedicated to army reconnaissance, air-to-ground combat and close air support (CAS) for ground troops. The helicopter is powered by two 1300 hp MTR390-2C turbine engines supplied by MTR, a joint venture between MTU, Rolls-Royce and Turbomeca. The engines proved highly reliable during the recent tests. “Apart from engine oil and kerosene, the engines of our Tigers required absolutely no attention for the entire week!” Such was the satisfied verdict of Captain Pourret and Lieutenant Molard, who were in charge of the support cell. The helicopter used their day-night STRIX targeting system (supplied by Sagem Défense Sécurité) equipped with a direct optical channel, a TV channel, an 8-12 micrometer infrared channel and a laser range-finder, The sight also provides image processing and automatic target tracking. or laser designator Employing a wide choice of weaponry including a gun, rockets, Mistral air-to-air missile and laser guided weapons (such as the Hellfire II).
The tactical deployment exercise (EXTA), included live firing sessions by day and night. It involved the first 3 aircraft of this type, delivered to the 5th RHC last summer. These tests were carried out in parallel with the technical and operational evaluation (TOEV) undergoing since the summer of 2007.

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