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In addition to Germany, France and Spain, the Australian armed forces use the Tiger combat helicopter Airbus Helicopters. On July 1, the Australian government has through the publication of a "Request for Information" (RFI) started the search for a new armed attack helicopter that is to replace the ARH Tiger fleet (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, English for armed reconnaissance helicopter). The Rf I was expected for some time, as the Australian forces have been thinking about a replacement of the Tiger for some time.

As part of the "Land 4503" program, the Australian Department of Defense's Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) is looking for offers to procure a total of 29 aircraft. Of these are 29 24 in one location (probably: 1 Aviation Brigade (1Avn) in Darwin) are stationed, the other five are for training (presumably: Oakey, Queensland) are used.

The schedule for the program foresees an initial commitment (initial operating capability, IOC) of a squadron of twelve aircraft by 2026, full operational capability (Full Operational Capability, FOC) should be achieved, 2028.

It should be noted that the terms IOC and FOC does not refer to in English on the operational readiness of the machines, but the system (flying unit and machine). With the introduction of the NH90 and Tiger and the associated problems, the use in Europe referred to the pure skill of the aircraft. Only when the airman FOC had his full and contracted abilities. In the US, British and Australian armed forces of the helicopter already has its full capabilities even with IOC, but the sheer number of items is not yet sufficient. In FOC all machines are then available and made the full commitment. So far, Australia had operated 22 ARH Tiger.

The limited ability profile was the Australians on Tiger also since the beginning of the main criticisms. According to reports, the capability gaps were too slow fixed so that a further development of the system could not be performed.

The approach outlined in the document RfI concept provides that in IOC four combat helicopters can be used operationally, while eight are available for retraining, education and training available to the others. With FOC the Australian Army will be able to leave may be the same for multiple users for different operations (á four machines), or an order of a squadron (twelve machines). A training system of five machines to provide the support to the associations.

capability requirements

As capability requirements for the new system will be provided with kinetic and non-kinetic weapons including the skills combating land, Überwasserkirche and air targets. Furthermore, rapid deployability by air or sea transport, the ability to Manned-Unmanned teaming (MUM-T) and an amphibious operation, called.

Amphibious means the helicopter must of amphibious assault ships (HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra) made over a long period can operate. It is specifically asked for features that allow the helicopter can be operated on board a ship and maintained as well as design features that enable the support of amphibious operations.

The new system should be able "to conduct armed reconnaissance missions in a narrow and deep area of ​​operations."

The Rf I document also states that the acquisition by a "proven and mature standard system" is to take place. The Rf I also makes provisions for the interoperability of the new platform with unmanned systems. Australia is also the Textron RQ-7 Shadow replaced as part of the "Land 129 Phase 3" program 200 and the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 REAPER by the "Air 7003" launch program.

Just MUM-T seems to be very important. Since 2015, the Australian forces repeatedly led test campaigns with the AH-64 APACHE Boeing. This time already offered MUM-T capabilities in cooperation with an originating also from Boeing drone. Meanwhile, he can (UAV) in a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles to fall back, including the MQ-9 REAPER General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

In addition to the Boeing AH-64E APACHE the Bell AH-1Z VIPER and the TIGER Mk3 comes as competition model in question. The AH-1Z VIPER is a variant of years operated Ah-1 Cobra and the US Marine Corps and other international customers.

The Rf I have to answer to 30 August of 2019. The "Land 4503" program is the second major helicopter procurement of Australians. In September 2018 RFI for 20 Special Forces was published helicopters, of which four in the strategic transport aircraft Boeing C-17 can be transported. The helicopter is to serve the movement of special forces and weapons.

André Forkert