A Conversation with Dominique Maudet
12/21/2010 – The Tiger helicopter has been used by the French military in their Afghan engagement. The operational role has been to work with two other helo types in providing crucial air capabilities for the French Army. The impact of operations has highlighted the significance of evolving air-ground integration and capabilities for the French military. We will publish an interview with one of the key users of the Tiger and a man very knowledgeable about Afghan con-ops, former Chief of the COMALAT (French Army Light Aviation Command), General Patrick Tanguy soon. The Tiger has been part of that process. The Tiger provides a highly maneuverable air asset with a gun which features rapid fire and precision in support of the ground commanders. An upgrade of the Tiger is already being tested and is in the works. Dominique Maudet of Eurocopter provided an overview of the Tiger program in a conversation in October 2010. Dominique Maudet has been Executive Vice President for Governmental Programs for the Eurocopter Group since the end of 2006. Prior to that he was Vice President for French Government Sales and Vice-President for Export Sales Operations from 2003-2006.
SLD: I understand from discussions with the French military that the Tiger has been a very important part of the evolving concept of operations, a con-ops which features better integration of air-ground operations. Could you give a sense of the Tiger operating in Afghanistan?
Dominique Maudet: We view the Tiger in Afghanistan as a tremendous success. The French Army has deployed three Tigers in Afghanistan since August 2009. We support the Tiger in theater as well and the helo has been demonstrating a 90% readiness rate. The Tiger is used in conjunction with Gazelles, Cougars and EC725 to deliver an integrated capability for the ground forces.
The French Army has deployed three Tigers in Afghanistan since August 2009. We support the Tiger in theater as well and the helo has been demonstrating a 90% readiness rate. It is used in conjunction with Gazelles, Cougars and EC725 to deliver an integrated capability for the ground forces.
SLD: What is the state of the program and its planned evolution?
Dominique Maudet: It started as a joint Franco-German program built around a single helo configuration. With the end of the Cold War, the French cancelled their involvement in the anti-tank configuration but the Germans continued with the anti-tank variant. The Germans focused more on a helo used in defensive missions, and the French more towards an attack role. Both have ordered 80 copies of their versions of the Tiger. The French have ordered 40 copies of the HAP (Hélicoptère d’Appui Protection) version with 40 for a more advanced HAD (Hélicoptère d’Appui Destruction) version. The HAD is built on the HAP but with air-to-ground missile capability and an enhanced engine which gives about 14-15% more power. The missile is a hellfire and the engine is an upgrade of the engine built by the current engine team supporting the Tiger. 
SLD: So the difference between the current version and the next version is the integration with an air-to-ground missile, and then more propulsion capability?
Dominique Maudet: Exactly. Today, out of the 40 HAP’s ordered by the French government, 26 have been already delivered, and 4 additional will be delivered before the end of this year, which means therefore that we have ¾ of the current HAPs delivered by the end of 2010.
SLD: Presumably, combat experience is feeding in some shifts in the requirements, and the desired capabilities. I would assume that air-to-ground missiles certainly would be one of them.
Dominique Maudet: Yes indeed. We will start delivering HAD from 2012 onward, for France and Spain. Spain has joined the French HAD version, and Spain has ordered 24 HAD which come on top of the 40 French.
In the early stage of the program, before Spain joined, just after France and Germany, Australia joined the Tiger program, with quite an advanced version. The Australians have the French HAP version, including the 30 mm gun and the air-to-ground missile; the Hellfire. The Hellfire has already been integrated into the Australian Tiger. It is the air-to-ground missile currently planned to be integrated on the French HAD Tigers, while the Spanish HAP will receive the Rafael missile. The Australians have the more advanced version. The Australian Army has run several live firings of the Hellfire missiles, which have been very, very successful as well. So, this is why for us, the HAD, at least as far as the air-to-ground capability is concerned, is not a major issue for development. The most challenging topic for HAD will be the engine development, and schedule.
The HAD, at least as far as the air-to-ground capability is concerned, is not a major issue for development. The most challenging topic for HAD will be the engine development, and schedule.
SLD: This is a significant evolution you are describing, which is to use this Tiger as almost a lead element in a ground battle with significant integration with the ground forces to deliver the Hellfire in a ground support role. And as C4ISR is evolving, this could provide significant integration capabilities for the ground forces as well?
Dominique Maudet: It is a distinct possibility. The full integration into a, sort of bubble, that is to say, the bubble of the battalion or the bubble of the Army moving ahead, is a question not only of radio, but it’s a matter of data links as well. But the platform is there available for such integration.
SLD: Let us focus on the gun, which has proven so useful in Afghanistan.
Dominique Maudet: The Tiger can carry up to 450 bullets for the gun, and can shoot very quickly, more than 700 shots per minute. The concept of this gun was envisaged to be installed on the Comanche before the Comanche was cancelled.
SLD: How would compare the Tiger to the Apache?
Dominique Maudet: The Apache is bigger can carry more weapons than the Tiger. The Tiger is more maneuverable in the battlespace. The Tiger is much lighter than the Apache, and it’s got a very strong engine, and all in all I think the Tiger is leveraging its maneuverability and agility in Afghan operations.
SLD: Finally, could you talk about your engagement with the Australians?
Dominique Maudet: We consider our relationship with the Commonwealth of Australia to be strategic in character. We won the Tiger competition against the Apache 8 years ago, and were then successful with the NH-90 MRH (Multi-Role Helicopter) competition 5 years ago against the Black Hawk. We are now working to win the next competition :the NH-90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) against the MH-60 Romeo.
The other thing is that we have a significant industrial footprint in Australia. We are now one of the 2 biggest players of the industrial aerospace industry there. In Brisbane, we have quite a big facility, which includes helicopter assembly and support, software testing and composites manufacturing.
We have a significant industrial footprint in Australia. We are now one of the 2 biggest players of the industrial aerospace industry there. In Brisbane, we have quite a big facility, which includes helicopter assembly and support, software testing and composites manufacturing.
The Tiger has been deployed in Operation in Afghanistan since 2009 Credit photos 1,2,3 : Thomas Goisque, Afghanistan, 2009 (copyright: EADS) Credit photo 4 : Eurocopter, December 2010
 The 40 Tiger HAD helicopters for France will be armed with eight Lockheed Martin Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles. Hellfire II has a semi-active laser seeker and range of over 8km. Spanish HAD will be armed with Rafael Spike-ER air-to-ground missiles, license-built by General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas. In addition, HAD is armed with one Nexter (formerly Giat) 30mm cannon turret, 70mm rockets and four Mistral air-to-air missiles. HAD helicopters will also be equipped with the Sagem Strix roof-mounted sight.