The Australian Department of Defence has granted a combined pass approval for upgrades to the Australian Army's Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARH).
Under the LAND 2089 Phase 3B, approximately 21 Tiger helicopters will be upgraded with an interim tactical data link, which will further integrate the helicopter into the combined arms land force battlefield.
Valued at less than $20m, the Tiger upgrade project also includes associated training and support.
Australian Defence Minister David Johnston said: "The interim tactical data link will improve the Tiger's situational awareness in the battlespace by improving the helicopter's ability to receive in-flight tactical positioning of friendly and known enemy forces.
"Through this data link the Tigers will be able to share targeting information, coordinate battlefield movements and tactical objectives, and transmit real-time reconnaissance information between the aircraft and the land forces."
The project is predominantly managed by Elbit Systems Australia. Future upgrades for the helicopter, which will deliver a fully integrated tactical data link solution after 2020, will build on the existing lessons provided by the interim configuration.
Elbit will develop the software and battle management system, while Airbus Group Australia Pacific will conduct the aircraft technical modification works.
The project's through-life support will be managed under existing contract arrangements relating to the particular components of the tactical data link capability.
According to Johnston, the upgrade is an important step in the continued enhancement and modernisation of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The Australian Army currently operates 22 Tiger ARHs, a two-seat attack helicopter that is designed for precise day and night surveillance and fire-support missions.
An upgraded version of the Eurocopter Tiger HAP, the helicopter features upgraded MTR390 engines, M299 launchers for firing Hellfire II missiles and 70mm free-flight Hydra rockets, as well as a Nexter 30mm cannon. It also provides protection against 23mm auto-cannon fire.
Image: A Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter at Avalon Airport, Australia. Photo: courtesy of User:Gsl.