by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (UPI) May 18, 2012
The Australian army suspended flying operations for the Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter after detecting fumes in the cockpit of one of the aircraft.
The army has a fleet of 22 Tiger helicopters, 19 of which are flying operationally in the fully capable configuration and used for training purposes.
The remaining three aircraft are completing a retrofit program and should return to the fleet later in the year, the Ministry of Defense said.
"The army's Tiger fleet is not yet in full operational service," the MoD statement said.
"It will become fully operational once its capabilities and maturity have been fully tested and proven to the satisfaction of army and final testing is planned for the end of 2012."
Primary users of the Tiger are the armies of Australia, France, Germany and Spain, with France the first country to use them in a combat zone. In July 2009 three were deployed to Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan, a report by Defense-Aerospace.com said.
Australian Aerospace, a division of Eurocopter, delivered the last of the 22 Tiger helicopters to the Australian army at the company's final assembly plant at Brisbane Airport in December.
Eurocopter Group head office is at Marseille-Provence International Airport in Marignane, France. Other offices are in Donauworth, Germany and at Eurocopter Espana in Albacete, Spain.
Australian Aerospace won the $2 billion Project AIR 87 contract in 2001. The Tigers are to replace the military's Bell UH-1-H Iroquois "Bushranger" gunships and Bell OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopters.
The first four of the two-seat lightweight helicopters were manufactured in France, with the rest assembled in Brisbane.
Australian Aerospace said it invested $40 million in its Australian operations for the ARH Tiger program, which created 220 jobs. The manufacturer estimates that more than $640 million has been injected into the Australian economy through flow-on benefits.
Australian Aerospace is responsible for overall program management and through-life support, as well as assembly and delivery of ground-crew training devices.
Kellogg Brown and Root, together with Thales Training and Simulation, is developing and supporting the training program, including providing air-crew training devices.
Thales Australia updated the avionics and mission systems. It also developed and manufactured the ground mission planning and control system.
The Australian government has been keen to ensure Australian businesses -- in particular the small- to-medium-size companies - are included in the supply chains of the winners of the country's large defense contracts.
The week Australia's Minister for Defense Materiel Jason Clare praised the work done by Ferra Engineering in Brisbane.
Last month Ferra beat out 17,500 other businesses in 50 countries to pick up Boeing's International Supplier of the Year award at a ceremony in Chicago.
"Ferra employs more than 100 workers to build things like rudder pedals for Super Hornet fighter planes and mission kits and weapons pylons for the navy's new Romeo combat helicopters," Clare said.
"This award is recognition of the terrific work Ferra is doing and a testament to the capability of Australian small and medium manufacturers."
Ferra won the work with Boeing through Canberra's Global Supply Chain Program which assists Australian companies to gain access to the export markets of international defense companies.
"So far it has delivered $444.8 million worth of export contracts for Australian business and small businesses have been the big winners - winning 90 percent of the value of that work," Clare said.
Boeing, Raytheon, Thales, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are registered in the program.
Aerospace News at SpaceMart.com
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