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  • Germany Freezes Tiger Order
    Posted by Christina Mackenzie 6:56 AM on May 26, 2010

    The German Ministry of Defense has suspended its €3 bn contract to buy 80 UHT Tiger helicopters following “serious defects particularly with its wiring”, according to an internal defense ministry report obtained by Reuters. “Until the faults have been effectively and systematically rectified, the defense ministry plans to suspend the purchase of the ... helicopters,” the report said. The delivery freeze is on the final version to be delivered to support combat troops.

    blog post photo
    UHT Tiger photo credit: Rémy Michelin, Eurocopter

    The report added that the problems had also arisen in Tigers with only a few hours flying time, meaning delivery of the first deployable helicopters would be delayed seven months at least until November 2011.

    Of the 80 ordered, only 11 have been delivered so far but these have extensive wiring problems and are kitted out to an earlier specification than that ordered by the German government. Cecile Vion-Lanctuit, Eurocopter's VP for Corporate Communications, said “corrective measures related to wiring problems have been developed, agreed on by the customer and are being implemented.” Two helicopters that have undergone this correction will be handed over to the German army in June and July for “intensive testing” she said. “In alignment with the customer, additional helicopter deliveries to the German Army are foreseen from the fourth quarter of 2010,” she added in an e-mailed statement.

    The French Tigers are a different model - HAP - and have already been successfully deployed in Afghanistan ... although they too have this wiring problem. Christina Gotzhein, a spokeswoman for Eurocopter, told me that this wiring problem had been identified back in March 2009 and a service bulletin issued to the customers. The problem, she said, is that in certain circumstances wires touch each other but there are protective measures which can be taken. "The operational capability is not limited by these protective measures," she added, and no hint of difficulties has been mentioned by either the French army or the DGA French procurement agency.

    Nevertheless, the correction to the problem will be retrofitted onto all versions of the Tiger.

    Interestingly, back in January when Eurocopter CEO Lutz  Bertling was speaking to the media, he remarked that "the Tiger is not a priority for Germany." One has to wonder whether the timing of this announcement by Germany, which, as I said, has known about this problem for over a year, could have anything to do with budgetary constraints: the dreamed-of-excuse to delay paying bills?

    Tags: ar99, Germany, Tiger

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