Airbus Helicopters, the helicopter manufacturing division of Airbus, has secured a contract to upgrade the Tiger attack helicopters.

The contract was awarded by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), on behalf of the French (DGA) and Spanish (DGAM) arms procurement agencies, after the two countries agreed to advance with the Tiger MkIII upgrade programme.

As agreed, Airbus Helicopters will develop, produce, and provide initial in-service support in relation to the upgrade programme.

In total, the company will upgrade 42 aircraft for France, with an option for another 25 units, and 18 helicopters for Spain.

Germany may join the programme at a later stage.

The first upgraded prototype helicopter is scheduled to conduct an inaugural flight in 2025. Deliveries are expected to begin in late 2029 for DGA, and in 2030 for Spain.

Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said: “The Tiger MkIII programme will provide a European answer to the need for a state-of-the-art attack helicopter for the decades to come.

“With this upgrade, the Tiger will remain an essential and modern asset to its armies, and reinforce defence cooperation in Europe.

“The Tiger MkIII will have no equivalent in the world for high intensity operations, and will further improve the connectivity, precision, and fire power capabilities of the current Tiger.”

The company will conduct development and upgrade works at its facilities in Albacete, in Spain; Marignane, in France; and Donauwörth, in Germany. 

The Tiger MkIII upgrade will boost the helicopter’s offensive capabilities.

It will be connected to the digital battlefield to enable manned-unmanned teaming, and will be equipped with a range of weapons including a turret gun, laser-guided rockets, and missiles.

The platform will feature renewed detection and targeting capabilities, as well as the latest avionics to reduce crew workload.

The Tiger MkIII standard configuration will have the Safran Strix NG sights, Safran’s inertial navigation system, the Thales FlytX avionics suite, the Topowl DD helmet-mounted sight display, an Indra IFF upgrade, and Thales GNSS.

Last month, Airbus, Safran, and Tikehau Ace Capital signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to acquire the aerospace and defence materials supplier, and Eramet-subsidiary, Aubert & Duval.