France and Spain launch Tiger MkIII programme

The European OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) organisation has awarded a contract to Airbus Helicopters for the development, production, and initial in-service support of the Tiger MkIII attack helicopter upgrade programme.

Announcing the move in a March 2 release, Airbus stated that the contract had been awarded on the behalf of the French and Spanish Armament General Directorate, the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) and the DGAM (Dirección General de Armamento y Material).

Tiger Mk III infographic
Infographic from Airbus Defence and Space

The contract includes the upgrade of 42 aircraft for France (with the possibility to add another 25 helicopters) and 18 for Spain, while also providing the possibility for Germany to later join the Tiger MkIII programme.

The first prototype is scheduled for an inaugural flight in 2025 with the first delivery to the French DGA to take place in late 2029 following by first delivery to Spain in 2030. Development and upgrade work will be conducted in Airbus Helicopters facilities in Albacete (Spain), Marignane (France) and Donauwörth (Germany). 

When fitted in a standard configuration the Tiger MkIII will include the integration of the Safran Strix NG sights, Thales FlytX avionics suite, Topowl DD helmet-mounted sight display, and Safran’s inertial navigation system, among other capabilities.

The communication suite will be upgraded with Thales’ Contact/Synaps radio and data links dedicated to manned/unmanned teaming, while for Spain Link16 and SATCOM functionalities will be included. The Spanish Tiger MkIII will be equipped with a battlefield management system and countermeasures provided by Indra, whereas the French Tiger MkIII will be equipped with a battlefield management system by ATOS and countermeasures provided by Thales.

The new weapon package for France will include the MBDA MAST-F (Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile) and Mistral 3 air-to-air missile. For Spain, new capabilities will include 70mm guided rockets and a new air to ground missile.