Tiger Helicopters

And well might it be said as the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter [ARH], now beginning to enter into service in the Australian Army, is demonstrating that it is an outstanding example of European commercial and technological aviation expertise that is stealing the march on a heretofore entrenched market for United States helicopters in Australia and also in other nations.

2nd Nov 2009


Tiger Helicopters

And well might it be said as the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter [ARH], now beginning to enter into service in the Australian Army, is demonstrating that it is an outstanding example of European commercial and technological aviation expertise that is stealing the march on a heretofore entrenched market for United States helicopters in Australia and also in other nations.

In a recent Media Release, Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science announced the achievement of a major milestone in Project AIR 87, the Tiger ARH project. This major milestone was the completion of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation Readiness that marked the transition from individual flying, maintenance and support qualifications to collective training and development of Army Aviation war-fighting skills. From that milestone, the 1st Aviation Regiment in Darwin will progressively introduce the fleet of 22 aircraft into service. The company Australian Aerospace (owned by Eurocopter) is implementing the through-life support program, as well as completing the final assembly and test of the aircraft. Full operational capability of the fleet is presently scheduled to be achieved by end 2011.

The initiative to develop the Tiger in 1984 came from the French and German governments who collectively issued a requirement for an advanced multi-role battlefield helicopter. A joint venture formed between MBB (Germany) and Aerospatiale (France) was chosen as the preferred supplier. However, the program stalled in 1986, due to cost, only to be resurrected in the following year. In November 1989, Eurocopter (formed by combining MBB and Aerospatiale) was awarded a contract to develop and produce five prototypes, of which three were to be unarmed testbeds and two to be operational variants. One of the latter for Germany was configured for an anti-tank role, and the other for France configured as an escort helicopter. Eurocopter now is a subsidiary of EADS (European Aeronautics Defence and Space) which was formed by DaimlerChrysler Aerospace of Germany, Aerospatiale Matra of France and CASA of Spain.

The Tiger first flew in 1991 and serial production of the initial batch of 160 aircraft began in March 2002 – on a 50:50 basis between France and Germany. The French order comprised 40 Tiger HAP combat support and 40 HAD multi-role combat aircraft, with the first HAP aircraft being delivered in March 2005. Germany ordered 80 UHT combat support aircraft, with the first aircraft being delivered in April 2005. Total procurement is understood to be 215 for France and 212 for Germany, but financing strictures might change these numbers. These three configurations are built using a common airframe, but the avionics, sensors systems and weapons vary to satisfy national preferences for a particular system and role.

The export market for the Tiger is growing – significantly aided by Eurocopter’s willingness to place significant content in a buyer’s country. In Australia, following a competition for the ARH between Bell’s Cobra, Boeing’s Apache, and Agusta’s Mangusta, Australian Aerospace Ltd (formerly Helitech), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eurocopter, was awarded prime contracts in December 2001. The contracts covered:-

  • Development and acquisition of the ARH Tiger system including the assembly, test and delivery of 22 Tigers, 18 of which would be assembled in Australia, and the supply of complex crew training simulators and other training aids also developed by Eurocopter Group.

  • Through-life support of this system over 15 years from its entry into service.

The program involved subcontracts being awarded to a number of Australian SME’s for the supply of equipment and associated services, with major subcontracts being awarded to Thales Australia for systems that the French parent provides for the European and other programs. Weapons procurement is probably a combination of GFE and Eurocopter supply.

In addition to the French and German markets, other sales of Tiger have been made to Spain [24] (operational since 2008) and Pakistan [18-25]. A competition to satisfy India’s attack helicopter requirement for 22 machines was terminated in March 2008, and the requirement has disappeared in a maze of Indian bureaucracy and a lack of funds. United States tenderers disappeared leaving EADS, Kamov and Agusta Westland to protract the “romance.” It is understood that India has now released a new RFP for 15 heavy lift and 22 gunship helicopters.

By June 2006, 28 production Tigers were flying, including 18 aircraft delivered to four countries. Together, these 28 aircraft had logged about 4,000 flight hours.

On 26 July 2009, three French Tiger HAP helicopters of the 5th Helicopter Regiment arrived at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan. This is the first active deployment of the Eurocopter Tiger in a war zone. The helicopters will participate in armed reconnaissance and fire support missions to assist in the control of the Taliban insurgency. The inclusion of just three Tigers is considered to be of minimal significance in what is a rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan -which is not to denigrate the machines’ capabilities.

Since the formation of the Eurocopter Group, it has experienced strong growth and it is now understood to be the world’s largest producer of a wide range of civil and military helicopters in the 2-to-10t class – Tiger is in the 5-6t class.

The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 14,000 people and in 2006 confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer, with a turnover of 3.8 billion Euros. This came from orders for 615 new helicopters, meaning a 52% percent market share in the civil, paramilitary and military sectors. Overall, its products account for 30% percent of the total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence is assured by its 17 subsidiaries located on five continents, a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centres. More than 9,800 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in 140 countries.

The AIR 87 ARH Project

The project was established by the Department of Defence to replace its aged fleet of Australian assembled Kiowa light observation helicopter (CA-32) which entered service in1971, and the Bell Iroquois (Huey) UH-1H transferred from the Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] to Army Aviation in 1986. The Hueys provided tactical transport and a gunship role and were operated by the 5th Aviation Regiment. The aircraft were intended to be operated as an interim capability, and as often happens in Defence, they would serve much longer than originally planned.

AIR 87 also triggered a complete update of the Army’s rotary wing facilities and bases, as many did not meet current and future standards and needs. Replacement of the two types of Bell helicopters by the Eurocopter ARH also caused the termination of Boeing Australia contracts that provided full in country service as well as the Army’s aviation training program for the Bell aircraft.

In December 2001, Eurocopter was awarded the contract for the Australian Army’s “AIR 87 Requirement,” for the supply of 22 Tiger ARH’s. The first Tiger was scheduled to enter service in 2004, but was not maintained. In the program, the first four aircraft were made in France by Eurocopter – with the balance of 18 aircraft to be assembled at the Brisbane facility of Australian Aerospace Ltd. This arrangement follows on from essentially the same plan provided for the Eurocopter MRH90, 46 of which are now being supplied to Defence by Australian Aerospace. Created in 2003 through the merger of Eurocopter International Pacific Limited and Australian Aerospace Pty Ltd, the company has evolved into a major defence supplier to the Australian Government. With over 1000 staff in Australia and New Zealand and access to the financial strength and expertise of the EADS Group, Australian Aerospace seems well positioned to manufacture and support civil and military helicopters, as well as military fixed wing aircraft in the Australia-Pacific region.

Tiger Design Features

The Tiger is an entirely new design helicopter and is one of the most advanced combat helicopters in the world today, though it utilises some of the design features of the older Boeing AH64 Apache. Its multi-mission capabilities include dedicated anti-tank missions, mixed ground-target engagements, escort/combat support, surveillance and reconnaissance – as well as protection for unarmed transport helicopters flying humanitarian aid missions. The visual, radar, infrared and acoustic signatures have been minimised to optimise its survival in hostile environments.

Airframe

The airframe of the Tiger is made from large, autoclave-fabricated carbon fibre- reinforced polymer and kevlar mouldings (80%) and aluminium and titanium fabrications, and castings of 11% and 6% respectively. The rotor blades are also made using composites to better withstand bird-strike and combat damage. The flexibility of the blade structure improves the aerodynamic control of the helicopter. Importantly, as non-metallic structures do not dissipate the energy from lightning strikes and electromagnetic pulse, the airframe embeds a copper/bronze grid and copper bonding foil to dissipate this energy to mitigate serious airframe damage. The adoption of moulded non-metallic structures also offers other major advantages over all-metal fabricated structures. These advantages include lower mass than metal structures, higher structural integrity, reduced corrosion, and improved damage resistance from munition strike. For example, the Tiger is capable of stopping 23mm automatic cannon fire. For long production runs, the use of composites also leads to improved product uniformity and lower cost. This is not to suggest that the Tiger’s airframe is completely “plastic” as many aspects of the structure require metal components, machined from the billet, for rigidity, ultimate tensile strength and mechanical accuracy.

The aircraft also incorporates a number of features designed to help crew survival in the event of battle damage being sustained or crashing. These include self-sealing crashworthy fuel tanks, with explosion suppression and with non-return valves – which minimise leakage in a crash.

Configuration

The Tiger has a conventional narrow fuselage helicopter gunship configuration with the two-man crew sitting in tandem – each provided with duplicated control and display facilities except for control of the gun (if there is one) which remains the role of the gunner. Somewhat unusual is that the pilot is in the lower front seat and the gunner is in the back – unlike all other current attack helicopters. The seats are also offset to opposite sides of the centreline to improve the view forward for the gunner. The weapon payload is carried on a sponson on each side of the fuselage – an arrangement that allows a wide range of stores to be carried, with additional weapons being carried under the fuselage.

Principal characteristics

  • Crew: 2 (pilot and weapon systems officer)

  • Fuselage Length: 14.08m

  • Mass, empty: 3,060kg

  • Mass, take-off: 6,000kg

  • Power plant: Two Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca/MTU MTR390 turboshaft engines, outputting 1900kW

  • Maximum speed: 315km/h without mast (Mast is located above the rotor and is not installed on the ARH.)

  • Range: 800km combat (with external tanks in the inboard stations: 1,300km)

  • Service ceiling: 4,000m

  • Rate of climb: 10.7m/s, load dependent

  • Endurance: >3 hours

  • Hover ceiling: 2,000m (out of ground effect)

  • Provision for two external tanks, one on each inboard pylon, each of approximately 350 litres capacity

  • Gearbox has a specified 30 minutes’ dry running capability (demonstrated 65 minutes, November 1994)

Prime Equipment installations

Common to all Tiger variants is the capability of flight and combat in day/night and adverse weather conditions. This is achieved with an automatic flight control system [AFCS] with autopilot and a sensor system appropriate to the weapon configuration and the defined role. The presentation of different sensor imagery is dependent on their use by the crew and is allocated according to the crew’s primary and secondary responsibilities – either piloting or weapons management and operation. The sighting systems in combination with navigation and GPS data, the digital map generator and tactical situation management of the mission system computers, as well as the presentations by the multi-function displays and the helmet-mounted system display [HMSD] allow fully autonomous operation of the helicopter.

Avionics systems

All systems are integrated using MILSTD-1553 redundant data bus architecture and multiple computers.

Cockpit

Each crew station cockpit is equipped with two Barco LCD multi-function colour displays which selectively display imagery from the gunner’s sight, the FLIR – a video image from the digital map generator and other aircraft sensor/weapon data. Crew are also provided with helmet-mounted displays to provide external information, weapon sighting and cockpit data, with the French and German aircraft each using a different supplier for this item. Each crew station is also equipped with a control and display unit [CDU] for the control and status display of the navigation and communications systems. The CDU includes a data insertion device, which is a removable memory pack pre-programmed with mission data at a ground station. The pilot also has a heads-up display. The gunner’s displays include direct view optics, TV camera, TI camera , LRF, helmet sight and night vision [NV] goggle outputs.

Helmet-Mounted Display System

The Thales TopOwl HMSD is one of the most advanced systems of its type available today. Fairly certainly, it is the most important tactical crew aid to achieve mission success and enhance survival of a helicopter. Each crew member wears an identical helmet. The helmet is equipped with electro-optical devices that provide two discrete “channels” of data. One channel projects the video acquired by two image intensified tubes in the helmet that provide NV imagery radiated by very low level illumination subjects, typically at starlight light levels to full daylight, to the crew as a function of where each is looking. The other channel projects flight and tactical symbology, collected from within the aircraft that is presented using a pair of standard miniature analog cathode ray tubes.

The imagery from both channels is combined onto two circular reflective, but transparent surfaces on the helmet visor. These surfaces provide a fully overlapped 40-degree binocular field of view. The system’s true binocular presentation and the spreading of the image intensification tubes at a distance wider than the spacing of the crew’s eyes help to give a “3-D feel” to the 2-D night vision imagery. Flight symbology such as attitude, heading and airspeed, and all tactical symbology (such as cross hairs and weapons cursors) is optically overlaid on the NV imagery.

Five selectable “declutter modes” allow the crew to reduce the amount of data overlaid on the helmet display, thereby reducing the possibility of information confusion. Enabling the crew to see NV imagery and overlaid information on a large curved surface (without distortion) is not a simple engineering task and is achieved using a complex optical path involving “warping” the imagery so that when it is displayed on the inside of the curved visor it appears to be straight.

The helmet also includes crew and communications audio and a sensor system enabling the gunner to aim the weapon directly and continuously onto a selected target by staring at it, without any other interposing weapon training operations required by him. A magnetic head-tracker in the helmet is accurate to within 3.8 milliradians or about 0.22 degree to provide accurate training of sensors and weapons.

The HMSD for the ARH is already the subject of enhanced development as a contract change, with details being unavailable. It is suggested that this modification might take advantage of LCD display technology to replace the analog CRTs, as this would reduce the size and mass of this channel and improve its reliability.

TopOwl is also installed on the MRH 90 helicopter.

Automatic Flight Control System

The AFCS provides four-axis command and stability augmentation using a dual- redundant system with fully-powered hydraulic flying controls with servo trim and horizontal tail mounted beneath tail rotor. (MRH-90 is a fly-by-wire aircraft.)

Navigation and Communications

The navigation system comprises two three-axis ring laser gyro units, two magnetometers, two air data computers, a four-beam Doppler radar, radio altimeter, GPS and a suite of low-air speed sensors and sensors for terrain following – the outputs of which are integrated to provide a fully comprehensive navigation capability under all operational conditions. The Doppler radar, radio altimeter and GPS also provide data to a real-time digital map system with display that also significantly enhances navigation.

The communications system contains HF, MF, VHF, UHF, military SATCOM radios, and Link 4A, which is compliant with STANAG 5066 and IFF. This comprehensive system provides unbroken communications and protection of the aircraft under all operational conditions and operational areas.

EW Self-Protection.

The Tiger is fitted with the ubiquitous EADS MILDS AN/AAR-60 or -60(V)2 system. This system comprises RWR and LWR components, for automatic missile launch/approach detection, the outputs of which are connected to a central CPU that provides a tactical situation display to the crew and also generates command signals to a chaff/flare dispenser. The MILDS sensors are distributed around the airframe to provide near-spherical detection of multiple threats and are optimised for the detection of UV threat emissions, particularly at missile launch and in flight using plume detection. MILDS provides to the aircrew, threat approach angle, threat prioritisation and automatic countermeasures initiation. The system features a very low false alarm rate, high threat angular resolution and is capable of detecting up to six simultaneous threats.

Electro-Optical sensors

The ARH is fitted with a STRIX roof-top mounted, gyro-stabilised platform that contains a TV camera, medium bandwidth FLIR, Laser Range Finder and a direct optical sight. These sensors provide data to the HMSD. The ARH aircraft also includes a laser target designator that illuminates a crew designated target on which the Hellfire II missile homes.

The Tiger is also configured to fit a mast-mounted electro-optical sight platform carried above the rotor, if required, in lieu of the roof-mounted sight as this configuration provides superior spatial coverage that might be required for different roles, at the expense of increased drag and marginally reduced speed.

Weapons

The HAP, HAD and UHT variants of the Tiger carry a very diverse range of weapons between them that are mounted on a sponson on each side of the fuselage and also underneath. The weapon payload for the ARH is selected from the range of systems available for these variants, with the adoption of Hellfire II being specified by Defence. France has indicated that it will also adopt Hellfire II in future installations.

The Tiger can carry a combination of the following weapons on its external hardpoints located on sponsons on each side of the aircraft:-

  1. On each of its two inner hardpoints:

  • 2x 20 mm (0.787 in) machine cannons in a pod, or

  • 22× 68 mm (2.68 in) SNEB unguided missiles in a pod, or

  • 8x AGM-114 Hellfire laser guided missiles.

  1. On each of its two outer hardpoints:

  • Mistral air-to-air missiles, or

  • 12× 68 mm (2.68 in) SNEB unguided missiles in a pod.

Payloads for the aircraft variants are:-

HAP (France) Combat Support carries a chin-mounted 30mm gun turret and can also carry 68mm unguided rockets or 20mm machine cannons for the fire support role, as well as Mistral air-to-air missiles.

HAD (France) Multi-role Combat is a later version of HAP. It carries same gun as HAP, has Hellfire II and Spike capabilities and rocket launchers.

UHT (Germany) Combat Support can carry two types of autonomous homing anti-tank missiles and also 70mm air-to-ground fire support rockets. Four AIM-92 Stinger missiles (two on each side) are mounted for air-to-air combat. Unlike the HAP/HAD variants, the UHT does not have an integrated gun turret, but a 12.7mm gunpod can be fitted if needed.

ARH (Australia) is a modified and upgraded version of the HAP. It is configured to launch the Hellfire II, 8km range air-to-ground laser-guided missile, and incorporates a laser target designator for this missile in the fitted Strix roof-top system installation for this purpose. Hellfire is launched from the M229 launcher. The ARH also carries 70mm unguided Hydra rockets and the trainable Nexter 30mm cannon installed in the nose of the aircraft. Its magazine carries 450 rounds and the gun has a firing rate of 750 rounds per minute. Four Stinger air-to-air missile stations might also be installed.

HELLFIRE II Missile

Hellfire II is a highly successful, combat-proven weapon system for precision kill of high-value armour, air defence systems, ships and fixed targets. Missile guidance and terminal homing on a selected target is provided by a semi-active, laser seeker in the helicopter. The integration of Hellfire II in the ARH was funded by Defence, with the integration activity being undertaken by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control Systems in conjunction with Eurocopter. Successful trials of Hellfire II, launched from an ARH at representative targets have been carried out at Woomera.

Hellfire II is a relatively simple missile that has evolved over the years to provide multiple target destruction performance and operation from a range of air vehicles, with launch by a helicopter being one of the more recently added capabilities. For helicopter operations, Hellfire II is launched from the M299 multiple missile launcher. This has a digital interface to the aircraft, with the target illuminating laser designator installed in the Strix roof-mounted sensor platform. Continuous target illumination by the launch helicopter is required with target lock-on by the missile before or after launch being required, depending on the time available.

The missile uses a single solid propellant motor, the thrust of which must reach approximately 500-600lbs before the missile is released. This technique assures a stable missile launch. Typical range for a helicopter launch is 7-8km.

There are four variants of the Hellfire II, all of which maybe fired from the M299 launcher in a selectable serial or simultaneous launch mode. The variants differ in the capability of the fitted warhead, as follows:-

  • AGM-14K – high-explosive anti-tank [HEAT] missile, which defeats all known and projected armoured threats;

  • AGM-114M – blast fragmentation missile, which is effective against primary targets such as ships, buildings, bunkers and light-armoured vehicles;

  • AGM-114N – metal augmented charge warhead missile, that defeats enclosures, caves and hostile personnel that might be in them;

  • AGM-114K-A – the recently introduced augmented HEAT warhead, which adds blast fragmentation to the HEAT warhead’s anti-tank capability, providing precision strike against unprotected soft targets.

There is a fifth variant designated the Longbow Hellfire missile (AGM-114L). This missile uses RF homing using a millimetre-wave sensor in the missile to provide autonomous homing against a nominated target. This technology does not involve the helicopter in the target illumination process, optimises engagement in adverse weather conditions and, unlike the laser–based system, does not generate specular reflections of significant magnitude that may mask the selected target. This missile is fitted with a HEAT warhead and is primarily installed on the Longbow Apache.

However, the laser-based system is not without its value in the field as it allows target designation by a remote cooperative ground spotter rather than by the launch vehicle that, although requiring a higher level of organisation, allows the launch vehicle to quickly clear the area immediately post-launch – leaving the spotter to continue target designation and to monitor engagement success.

Aircraft Cost

The system cost (helicopter, armament, support) depends on the number of aircraft and variant selected. A figure of US$30.6 million (2001) for the Tiger ARH has been quoted, which puts it at the low end of the prices for the other three Tiger variants (HAP: US$35-39m, HAD: US$44-48m and UHT: US$38-43m). Unit prices will undoubtedly have increased by perhaps 10-15% since 2001.

ARH Training systems.

The selection of the Tiger ARH as a flexible, very high performance weapon system, capable of operation in a very complex operational environment, places huge demands on crew training. These demands are of a larger magnitude and greater diversity than the training of pilots of fixed-wing fighter aircraft, due to the higher manoeuvrability and the much denser operational environment of this class of helicopter. Additionally, the variable roles of these aircraft will set new demands on the integration of this weapon system in close to the ground battlefield environments with own land forces, if its inherent capabilities are to be used advantageously.

The extremely broad spectrum of the needs to train aircrews and ground support crews place new demands on the fidelity of training systems well beyond the scope of the aircraft as a weapon system and into the very heart of network centric warfare concepts.

Contrary to the general practice of buying the aircraft and then following it up by the addition of training systems, Defence wisely decided to procure training systems from Eurocopter which at that time were still developmental – although this decision caused hiccups in the overall program. So it is evident that the training systems will themselves evolve as the Army gains experience in the capabilities and limitations of the Tiger ARH in a number of different operational environments.

It is planned to be able to integrate the ARH training simulator assets to provide ARH crew training at higher operational levels, such as multiple resource training and involving other Defence operational simulation assets to provide operational training at a higher inter-service level, where Australian Defence Force combined exercises are involved.

However, it is evident that qualifying aircrews and support crews must initially be given the higher priority, and that Army needs to continue its close cooperation with Eurocopter to take advantage of Eurocopter’s head-start on the development and introduction into service of aircraft and training facilities. These are being jointly established by France and Germany, which take into account the likelihood of doctrinal differences emerging.

By way of example, the French Army Tiger crew training program is understood to include 45 hours ground school (classroom), 79 hours classroom computer-assisted training, 49 hours CPT training and 56 hours full flight & mission simulators [FFMS] training. To graduate as a crew commander requires a further 1,000 hours of flying in representative environments.

Training Simulation Facilities

The training simulation facilities being provided for the Tiger ARH include:-

  • 4 x Crew Procedural Trainers [CPT], two each at the Army Aviation Training Centre, Oakey and Darwin. (It is not known whether the CPTs are designed to provide individual pilot and gunner as well as integrated training using both CPTs.)

  • 2 x FFMS at Oakey.

  • 1 x Gun System Trainer at Oakey.

  • 1 x Centre Fuselage Trainer at Oakey.

  • 1 x Underwater System Trainer at Darwin.

The CPT and FFMS at Oakey and Darwin are capable of being functionally integrated to expand the number of simulated aircraft in a complex “live” exercise.

Cockpit Procedural Trainer

As the term suggests, CPTs provide procedural training on cockpit installations, which is fairly certainly the first serious introduction to the ARH as the pilot’s and gunner’s cockpits are both single-seat and separate installations by placing the pilot in front of the gunner. CPTs are not necessarily full replicas of the aircraft that they represent, but most are replicas from physical configuration, control and instrumentation viewpoints. The ARH is complex, in that all critical aircraft information is projected within the crew’s view on the visor of Thales’ TopOwl HMSD, enabling both crew to individually see the external operating environment and the status of the aircraft systems simultaneously. It is evident that being able to concentrate on the visor display and the external operating environment simultaneously (or nearly so), and being able to integrate the information flow requires a very high level of training and crew interaction. CPTs are not conventionally equipped with physical motion of the cockpit, but in the case of the ARH and the way it is flown with each crew member having an HMSD a multiple-scene large screen visual display, with apparent motion, would appear to be necessary. A CPT will have one or more instructors whose roles will be to establish progressive training programs and scenarios, provide simulated external communications, monitor trainee crew progress, introduce system disturbances/ failures, and ensure that the exercise being carried out is correctly recorded enabling student post-exercise debrief.

Full Flight & Mission Simulator

The Australian FFMS (developed by Thales France) received official certification by Australian accreditation authorities in November 2007, who recommended the FFMS as suitable to begin aircrew training for the Australian Army’s ARH.

As background to this event, on 26 November 2007 the Tiger ARH FFMS was granted FSD-1 Level 5 accreditation – equivalent to Europe’s Level D – the first time a flight simulator (with two coupled domes) had attained what is the highest level of certification worldwide. The FFMS simulates aspects of the ARH Tiger’s physical and operational environment and will be used to train flight crew – at least to the mandated levels for the commercial aviation sector.

The FFMS and the CPT are quite different as is evident from their names and the physical differences are immediately apparent. Traditional design of full motion simulators is to have a fixed dome structure that displays scenery (projection or direct vision) and within in it, close to the geometric centre of the dome a motion platform carrying the cockpit is installed. The alternative is to move the dome and fix the cockpit, but provide the sense of cockpit movement by introducing short sharp acceleration inputs into the crew seats. Which of these techniques is adopted is not known. One of the domes is configured for the pilot and the other for the gunner. Significant reasons for this are some differences to the cockpit instrumentation, different fields-of-view due to different cockpit locations, and different roles. As there is a critically important need to develop a team capability, the two simulator components are capable of full functional integration.

The FFMS provides the following principle functions:-

  • Very high fidelity, fully operational flight instruction on all cockpit instrumentation, including external communications;

  • Very high fidelity, computer-generated, visual scenery presented on the inner surface of the dome that is interactive with aircraft flight and mission operations;

  • Very high fidelity cockpit movement in response to trainee demands;

  • Integration of the HMSD displays of aircraft instrumentation and the visual scenery;

  • Generation of physical effects in the cockpit, caused by weapon firing and the effect of weather on aircraft flight and their display on the scenery generation, as appropriate;

  • The effects of ambient noise;

  • Full integration of the pilot’s and gunner’s operations in a combined “two dome” exercise environment;

  • Full instructor-control of exercise planning, exercise implementation, trainee actions, data recording and debrief and analysis of trainee performance for each trainee; and

  • Capability of being integrated with external training simulator environments.

Virtual Avionics System Trainers

Additional to crew training devices above, Virtual Avionics System Trainers are being acquired. This class of trainer is not new and has evolved over many years. It provides all levels of training to qualify maintainers to service complex systems and equipment in the aircraft that can be carried out by the user. Computer-generated pictorial selectable simulation is provided for all maintainable and testable aircraft systems. The technique obviates the use of actual aircraft hardware as maintainers receive their training at LCD displays by visual presentation of step-by-step instructions. The advantages of this technique are that physical hardware is not involved, trainee maintainers can return to any allowed maintenance procedure on demand, until the procedure is learned. Additionally, trainee proficiency can be measured, automatically, to the level required to work on actual aircraft. The same process might also be used to modify and improve R&O processes, and easily introduce new courseware when an aircraft is modified. A trainer of this type, called VST, is in service for the MRH90.

Conclusions

  • The acquisition of the Tiger ARH introduces a new and major weapon capability into the Australian Defence Force’s land force operations. The operation of the ARH in the battlefield will carry very significant de-risking of land force operations and at the same time will be an invaluable force multiplier.

  • The selection of the acquisition program for the ARH and the scope of the project have been professionally managed by DMO, Australian Aerospace and its parent the Eurocopter Group.

  • The AIC is appropriate to a program of this complexity and Australia is well-placed to manage the through-life support of the aircraft as a result.

  • It is evident that, although its design and operation is very modern, performance improvements of the Tiger will emerge and the Australian Defence Force needs to be cognizant of the future costs that will arise by their adoption.

  • Defence is yet again confronted with another complex system that has to be operationally integrated into its network centric warfare “philosophy.”

 

APDR at a glance