Defence Materiel Organisation banner edge
Defence Links
banner edge
Department Air Force Army Navy Minister
banner edge
Advanced Search banner edge

Display Printer Friendly Version


AIR 87 - Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters

Home | Press Releases | Eurocopter | Images

Request for Proposal
Project Approval
Request for Tender


Project AIR87 will acquire an Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) capability for the Army. The ARH system will consist of 22 Eurocopter Tiger helicopters including a fully instrumented ARH, a training system consisting of a Full Flight and Mission Simulator (FFMS); two Cockpit Procedures Trainers (CPT); and ground crew training devices, other supporting components including the ARH Software Support Capability (ASSC), a Ground Mission Management System to support operational communications, Electronic Warfare Mission Support System, a Maintenance Management System, facilities and ammunition.

ARH1 First Flight, 20 February 2004, Marignane France
ARH1 First Flight, 20 February 2004, Marignane France


Project Air 87 was established to replace the capability currently represented by the Bell 206B-1 (Kiowa) and UH1-H (Iroquois) gunship helicopters with a new reconnaissance and fire support capability for the land force early in the next century.

The Capability Proposal was endorsed by the Defence Concepts and Capabilities Committee in February 1994 with guidance given to conduct a Project Definition Study to further define the cost/capability options. The end result of this definition process was an approved Equipment Acquisition Strategy (EAS).

Request for Proposal

The approved EAS provided the vehicle for Request for Proposal (RFP) to be to industry in May 1998 seeking detailed proposals to the Australian Defence Force Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter capability requirement.

The following companies responded:

Agusta A129 Scorpion helicopter
Bell Helicopter Textron AH-1Z Viper helicopter
Boeing-Mesa AH-64D Apache helicopter

Denel Aviation

Rooivalk (Red Hawk) helicopter


Aussie Tiger helicopter

Sikorsky Aircraft Australia Ltd

S-70A Armed Reconnaissance (Battlehawk) helicopter

The Defence Source Selection Board approved a shortlist of three tenders’: Agusta, Boeing and Eurocopter, on 14 April 1999.

Project Approval

Project Air 87 Phase 2 was approved in the 1999 Federal Budget.


Request for Tender (RFT)

The Request for Tender (RFT) was released to industry on 18 December 2000. Due to a refinement in project scope, tenders were called from all companies who participated in the RFP process. The three shortlisted tenderers and Bell Helicopter Textron responded.

The preferred tender was approved by cabinet on 8 August 2001.

Contract Signature

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence issued a Media Release on Friday 21st December 2001, which announced the signing of a $1.3 billion contract with Eurocopter International Pacific for 22 'Tiger' Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters under Project Air 87.

Initial In-Service Date

Defence took delivery of the first two ARH in Oakey, Queensland on 15 December 2004. Read Media release


Project Schedule

Event Date
Request For Tender release
18th December 2000
Request For Tender close
30th April 2001
Contract Signature
21st December 2001
In-Service Date (ISD)
15 December 2004
Australian Military Type Certificate
26 October 2005
Final (Military) Certification ARH Tiger
March 2006
Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E)
September 2009
Initial Operational Release (IOR1)
March 2010
Delivery Phase Ends
June 2010
Full Operational Capability
December 2011

Note: The Project Schedule is currently being rebaselined under the Deed of Agreement through Contract Change Proposal. The ARH Schedule will be updated following finalisation of the contract changes in Dec 2008.



Director General Army Aviation Systems
BRIG Charles (Jock) Crocombe

Project Director
COL Anthony McWatters, CSM
Telephone: 07 36370790




Click here to see the Organisation Chart

Current Status

Following failure to meet the critical milestone of Initial Operational Capability (IOC), the Stop Payment provision in the ARH acquisition contract was executed by the Defence Materiel Organisation on 1 June 2007. Subsequently Australian Aerospace and the Commonwealth entered into formal dispute in October 2007 over the contract provisions for Through Life Support as well as the Stop Payment under the Acquisition contract.

Following a period of negotiations between the Commonwealth and Australian Aerospace to resolve the dispute, an agreement has been reached through a formal Deed of Agreement. The Deed of Agreement contains the basis for Contract Change Proposals to both the Acquisition and TLS Contracts that rebaselines the ARH delivery schedule in line with Army's Plan Peregrine for introduction into service of the ARH capability and transitions the current support contract to a performance based structure, to reduce cost of ownership to the Commonwealth over time. This will help achieve the government’s aim for greater efficiencies in the sustainment of our major capital equipment and will enable the project to deliver an operational capability to Army in the shortest practical time.

During the resolution process work continued on the project despite the Stop Payment, but it was important that it be addressed quickly. Payment has resumed and the project is focused on delivery of the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter capability to Army. The Agreement also includes an initiative by the contractor to base two EC135 helicopters in Darwin for two years for lead-in skills training for pilots prior to conversion onto the ARH Tiger.

Read the Media Release covering the Deed of Agreement.

As at 07 August 2008, the Commonwealth had accepted 11 Tiger ARH including the instrumented ARH at RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia. ARH Training is established at Oakey, Queensland, with 6 ARH and the Full Flight Mission Simulator (FFMS) supporting aircrew transition training and ground crew training utilising ground crew training devices. The Tiger fleet has now flown in excess of 2900 hours and has commenced initial transition into operational service with the deployment of 3 ARH to the 1st Aviation Regiment at Robertson Barracks, Darwin. The second CPT will be delivered to the Regiment in early 2009 to support operational training and mission preparation.

In service support is provided by Australian Aerospace and managed through the ARH Management Unit established at Brisbane Airport. This facility houses the logistics and engineering support organisation for the ARH system as well as the ASSC.

Local Member, Hon Ian Macfarlane MP congratulating the Chief of Army

Local Member, Hon Ian Macfarlane MP congratulating the Chief of Army on the delivery of the first of 22 Tigers in Oakey QLD.

ARH Tiger Characteristics

Component Specification
Empty Weight
3, 950 Kg
Maximum Weight
6,100 kg
Fuselage Length
15 m
Length (rotor rotating)
15.826 m
Length (including gun)
15.0601 m
Total Width
4.52 m
Fuselage Width
1.11 m
Track Width
2.38 m
Main Rotor Head Height
3.83 m
Auxiliary Rotor Tip Height
4.33 m
Main Rotor Diameter
13 m
Tail Rotor Diameter
2.7 m
2 X MTR 390 - Approx. 950kW each @ 8000 rpm at the output shaft
Cruise Airspeed
230 km/hr, 124 kt


Armament Systems

The Armament Systems on the ARH Tiger consist of:

a. 30mm Gun;
b. 70mm Rockets;
c. Hellfire Air to Ground Missile (AGM), and
d. Chaff and Flares.

30 MM Gun

The ARH is equipped with a GIAT 30mm DEFA M781 cannon in a chin mounted turret (THL30) for engaging ground or air targets.

70mm Rockets

70mm FZ Rockets will be utilised.

Hellfire Air to Ground Missile (AGM)

The ARH will be fitted with the Hellfire II Semi-Active Laser guided Air to Ground Missile.

Flares and Chaff

The ARH will also be equipped with flare and countermeasures dispensing sets that will dispense flares and chaff as countermeasures.

Training System Component

The training system comprises:

a. Aircrew Training Devices (ATD);
b. Groundcrew Training Devices (GTD); and
c. Training Courses and Course Materiel.

The ATD component consists of:

a. Full Flight & Mission Simulator (FFMS) produced by Thales Training & Simulation, making maximum use of Franco-German Tiger Aircrew Training Means (TATM) will be located at Oakey:

i. Will have two separate domes (one Pilot (P), one Battle Captain (BC)). These can be operated either coupled as one virtual aircraft or independently;
ii. Will be DIS compliant;
iii. FFMS-BC & P will be accredited to FSD-1 (Level 5)/AC 120-63 (Level D) (i.e. zero flight time simulators); and
iv. Both domes have full 6-degrees of movement hydraulic and seat shaker vibration system.

b. Cockpit Procedures Trainer (CPT):

i. Produced by Thales Training & Simulation;
ii. Similar to the FFMS. Comprises of two separate domes operating coupled at all times;
iii. No motion system; and
iv. 2 Devices. One CPT-BC & P based in Oakey and one CPT-BC & P in Darwin.

The GTD component consists of:

a. Mechanical Systems Trainer (MST);
b. Avionics Systems Trainer (AST);
c. Centre Fuselage Trainer (CFT);
d. Environmental Control System Trainer (ECST);
e. Gun Systems Trainer (GST); and
f. Underwater Escape Trainer (UET).

Courses and Course Materiel

The training courses and course materiel has been developed by the Contractor. Courses, except for tactical flying instruction, will also be delivered by the Contractor.

ARH Tiger picture gallery

Unloading ARH-002 from AN-124, Brisbane November 2004

Unloading ARH-002 from AN-124, Brisbane November 2004

ARH-001 Approaching Russell Offices, March 2005

ARH-001 Approaching Russell Offices, March 2005

ARH-001 Approaching Russell Offices , March 2005

ARH-001 Approaching Russell Offices , March 2005

ARH-001 loaded with Hellfire Missile fitted with Inert Warhead

ARH-001 loaded with Hellfire Missile fitted with Inert Warhead

Related Links

Follow this external links for further information:

Last updated: September 2008
banner head


Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan
Introducing the Defence Materiel Organisation Introducing the DMO - June 2014 Update
Portfolio Budget Statements 2011-12 Portfolio Budget Statement 2013-2014
 2012 Public Defence Capability Plan 2012 Public Defence Capability Plan
Defence Annual Report 11-12 Defence Annual Report 12-13
Defence Annual Report 2011-12 DMO Major Projects Report 2012-13
Defence Industry Policy Statement 2010 Defence Industry Policy Statement 2010
Defence Procurement Policy Manual Defence Procurement Policy Manual
Coles Review Coles Review