The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co.’s (EADS) Eurocopter unit said yesterday it had successfully completing a firing campaign using the Spike air-to-ground missle as part of the development of the HAD (support and destruction helicopter) version of the Tiger.

The firing campaign was conducted at Spain’s El Arenosillo firing range, which belongs to the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA).

Spain is one of two customers for the HAD version of the Tiger: the Spanish armed forces have ordered 24 of these aircraft, and France has ordered 40 HAD version Tigers.

For air-to-ground missions, the Spanish helicopters will be equipped with the fiber-optic guided Spike missile developed by the Israeli company Rafael.

Seven missiles were fired in El Arenosillo. Five were launched without their main propulsion units, as the sole aim was to validate the helicopter/weapon integration concept and to clear the firing envelope, ensuring that the weapon separated cleanly from the helicopter during firing. This was checked in hover and in forward flight. The other two missiles were able to hit their targets six to eight kilometers away as these infrared guided missiles were equipped with their propulsion units. All of the missiles were fired successfully.

Developed by Eurocopter, the Tiger is a new generation multi-purpose combat helicopter. To date, 206 Tigers have been ordered in the aircraft’s four main versions. Germany has asked for 80 Tigers in the support UHT version. France has ordered 40 aircraft in the combat support HAP version plus 40 HAD version Tigers. Spain wants 24 Tigers: six HAP and 18 HAD version aircraft. The six HAP Tigers will later be raised to the HAD standard when this version is fully qualified. Australia has ordered 22 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Tigers.