Page 33 - Australian Defence Magazine - July 2018
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it was also the subject of an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report in September 2016, which many in Defence and industry considered was effectively a hatchet job. It listed no fewer than 76 ‘de- ficiencies’ which, according to informed sources, were actually capabilities not speci- fied in the original ARH requirements, but which have become upgrade opportunities along the way.
The White Paper effectively cancelled a planned Capability Assurance Program (ARHCAP) in lieu of a limited series of upgrades which do address some capabil- ity deficiencies, but are largely obsolescence management activities. In its place, the White Paper called for an ARH replace- ment program (Land 4503) beginning in 2025, which again took many in Defence and industry by surprise, especially con- sidering the amount of effort expended on remediation to that point.
Given the deliberate lack of transparency at the present time it is difficult to predict with any certainty what Tiger’s future may be, other than the subject of the replacement program in the middle of the next decade.
In the 2017-18 Defence Portfolio Budget Statement for example, the ARHCAP (part of Project Land 9000) was listed as a project in development for Second Pass approval consideration within the financial year. If this has actually occurred as predicted it has not been announced by either Defence or Government and the ongoing opacity of both organisations makes it problematic when seeking answers.
What we do know
According to the written response provided by Defence to ADM in May, it has received unsolicited responses from industry to re- place Tiger, but it says it has not yet selected a platform or system.
“Defence will undertake a planned re- placement of the current Tiger fleet in the mid-2020s, costing between $5 billion and $6 billion,” according to the Defence state- ment. “Defence routinely receives unsolicited proposals from various manufacturers and wider industry, and this is no different for Project Land 4503. Defence has not selected a platform or a system at this stage, though it is likely to consider manned and unmanned systems, or a combination of both.”
There was no mention of Land 9000 AR- HCAP at all in the response and it was also not listed in the 2018-19 PBS, but the tim- ing for the Tiger replacement program itself is also somewhat problematic. As ADM has
written in the past, the only western attack helicopters which may be available in the middle of the next decade will be the Air- bus Helicopters Tiger (in upgraded Mk.III form), the Bell AH-1Z Viper and the Boe- ing AH-64E Apache.
We say ‘may be’ available because it is possible that not all of the three will actu- ally still be in production when Land 4503 needs to deliver helicopters to meet the gov- ernment’s timetable.
Continued production of some will be dependent upon future export orders once their respective programs of record are completed and at this point in time, Tiger Mk.III is very much a paper aircraft and still in the definition stage
of its program.
The US has its Future
Vertical Lift (FVL) pro- gram on the distant ho- rizon, which is aimed at replacing the current fleets of transport and attack he- licopters with the next gen- eration of platforms.
However, even if this am-
bitious and complex pro-
gram progresses through
future US Defence budgets unhindered and on schedule, it will not start delivering aircraft to the US military until at least the early 2030s – almost a decade late for Aus- tralia’s Tiger replacement program.
“Land 4503 will likely occur before the next generation of battlefield verti- cal take-off and landing systems, com- monly referred to as Future Vertical Lift, has sufficiently matured,” Defence said in the written response. “However Defence continues to observe the development of the US Army’s FVL program.”
So, with FVL looking like a replacement for Tiger’s replacement at best, what of the three likely contenders for Land 4503?
Airbus Helicopters Tiger Mk.III
Airbus Helicopters will cease production of what it calls the Tiger Mk.1 (which includes Australia’s ARH) at the end of 2018, once deliveries to the French, German and Span- ish Armies are completed, however it still has an active sales campaign and it says that international interest in Tiger continues.
In the meantime, the company is work- ing on the Tiger Mk.2, which is an upgrade of 24 French Army Tiger HAD (Hélicop- tère d'Appui Destruction, similar to Army’s
ARH), including laser guided rockets and new GPS receiver and antenna and it will be delivered from mid 2020.
The Mk.3 concept is in essence a mid- life upgrade of the Tiger weapons system, due to enter service in the next decade and which Airbus Helicopters says will leverage recent combat experience in Afghanistan and Mali. The company has been awarded a Mk.3 Architecture Study by Europe’s OC- CAr (Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation), on behalf of the French, German and Spanish armed forces.
French President Emmanuel Macron on his recent trip to Australia, praising the platform. | July 2018 | 33
“It would seem that someone
in Defence or Government, or both, is actively suppressing any good news stories regarding Tiger.”

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