The ARH Tiger is a two-seat, attack helicopter designed to perform a wide range of missions. Faster and more agile than its competitors, the ARH Tiger can detect and engage targets at longer ranges, and more easily coordinate and control combined arms teams.


The Tiger boasts sophisticated avionics and mission equipment capability. Under the Air 87 Program, the Commonwealth of Australia ordered 22 ARH Tigers to serve Australia for many years. Airbus delivered all 22 Tigers to the Australian Defence Force in 2011. The ARH Tiger program has created 220 direct new jobs in Australia, $A40 million in investment and more than $A640 million has been injected into the Australian economy through flow-on benefits.

$9,465 AUD per flight hour

The Real Cost of Flying Tiger

The Aussie Tiger is one of the most cost-effective weapon systems in the Australian Defence Force. This can be demonstrated by calculating costs per flying hour in order to allow a comparison against other aircraft fleets, both in Australia and overseas. Using the U.S. Department of Defense’s (US DoD) approach to calculate aircraft Cost per Flight Hour demonstrates Tiger’s competitive value for money when compared with other like helicopters.

How to compare apples with apples
Different nations include different work scope in their public Defence equipment operating cost reporting depending on a wide range of factors including Government accounting policy, the extent of outsourcing and through life support contracting arrangements.

To develop Cost per Flight Hour recovery rates across different aircraft, the US DoD uses the following expense categories:

1. Aviation Fuel
2. Other Operational Material
3. Consumables
4. Depot Level Repairs
5. Intermediate Maintenance
6. Depot Maintenance
7. Contract Maintenance Services

When using this approach, the cost of flying Tiger is $9,465 AU per flight hour.

Airbus as a Defence Industry Partner
The Australian Government and Airbus have formed a deep and longstanding partnership on the ARH Tiger. Airbus provides a broad range of through life support services under performance based contracting arrangements which, on comparison helicopters, are performed internally by US DoD personnel in US DoD facilities.

In addition to the baseline maintenance services making up the majority of the US DoD costs, Airbus provides the outsourcing of the majority of System Program Office (SPO) activities managing engineering and logistics support, the management of the supply chain including domestic storage and distribution, industry ownership of stock until consumption, utilisation of industry facilities, delivery of aircrew and technician training, full maintenance and operation of flight simulators and full operational maintenance of the aircraft training fleet. In addition, Airbus maintains a sophisticated sovereign software support environment in Australia that generates software changes and major aircraft software releases.

Including the cost of these extensive extra services provided by Airbus when making comparisons against US DoD public cost recovery distorts the comparative true cost of flying Tiger.

Versatile and flexible

The Tiger’s stealthy design, agility and integrated sensor and weapons systems make it ideal for operating in both the reconnaissance and fire support roles. The roof-mounted sight permits high speed on escort missions and gives extreme angular accuracy for day and night target designation. In heavy fire support roles, the Tiger ARH uses stand-off missiles, capable of defeating all current and projected armoured vehicles, as well as strong points, day or night and in adverse weather.

Coupled with its proven high reliability and autonomy on deployment, this mission flexibility means the Tiger ARH will be ready for anything, anytime. The Tiger ARH will be the world’s most advanced armed reconnaissance helicopter capable of multi-role excellence. Its design provides great versatility in meeting or exceeding Australia’s specified requirements.

Developing Australian industry capability

The ARH Tiger Program has delivered an in-country design and development environment for hardware mission software. Airbus is transferring all necessary technology and intellectual property to Australian industry to enable customisation, support, modification and enhancement of the ARH Tiger, in Australia, throughout its service life.

Advanced Technology

The ARH Tiger Program is delivering a state-of-the-art armed reconnaissance helicopter to the Army, a capability that the Army previously has not had.

The Tiger incorporates cutting-edge technologies, including: composite airframe to minimise weight and reduce radar cross-section; latest-generation engines and rotors; integrated suite of sensors and weapons; built-in low-cost maintenance design and latest generation target identification and acquisition sight. Inherently stealthy in radar cross-section, the Tiger employs infra-red suppression techniques to minimise infra-red detectability.