France has received back into service the first of its Airbus Helicopters EC665 Tigre/Tiger attack helicopters to be upgraded to the HAD (Hélicoptère d'Appui Destruction) configuration.
The milestone, which was announced by the manufacturer on 21 December, saw the French Army receive the first of 36 HAP (Hélicoptère d'Appui Protection) helicopters that are due to be retrofitted to the HAD standard over the coming months and years. The retrofitted helicopters will join the 40 newbuild HAD helicopters that the French Army Light Aviation (ALAT) is due to receive.
The Tiger HAD is essentially an upgraded version of the original Tiger HAP, featuring more powerful MTR390 turboshaft engines, improved ballistic protection, a new STRIX roof-mounted optronic sighting system, the capability to target and launch AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, an evolved electronic warfare suite, and an identification friend-or-foe (IFF) interrogation system.
In 2014 it was announced that the first HAD Block 2 helicopter had been received by the ALAT. The Block 2 is a French-specific upgrade that builds on the earlier Block 1, which first arrived in 2005 with improved targeting accuracy for rockets, the addition of combat external fuel tanks; an expansion of the envelope in which the Rafael Spike and Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles can be fired; and the integration of digital communications. The HAD Block 2 helicopters are also navalised for shipborne operations. A vital tenet of the Block 2 upgrade is in laying the foundations for future platform enhancements.
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