The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ship HMAS Canberra has welcomed two Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARHs) for first-of-class flight trials.
The Tiger ARHs will join two MRH-90 Taipan medium-lift, twin-engine multi-role helicopters and one US Navy unit, the multi-mission naval helicopter MH-60R Seahawk, to conduct flight trials on board the ship over the next six weeks.
Royal Australian Navy Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit HMAS Albatross Nowra flight test engineer lieutenant Grant Thaler said: “I am looking forward to seeing just what we can achieve.
“It is a very capable aircraft from a handling qualities perspective and its handling characteristics are favourable in quite extreme wind conditions; however, I am interested to see how it copes with pitch and roll on deck.
“It will also be exciting to see the MRH-90 Taipan, MH-60R Seahawk and the ARH Tiger all operating in an aviation battle group for the first time.”
Thaler will oversee the trials, and noted that the flight tests will enable the navy to identify the safe operating limits of the two Tiger helicopters during different weather conditions.
Thaler added: “We are doing a full ship helicopter operating limitation development on all six flight deck spots. We will also conduct emergency recoveries and other scenarios.”
The two ARHs will operate on land mainly as reconnaissance aircraft, and belong to the first aviation regiment in Darwin, Northern Territory, and the Army School of Aviation in Oakey, Queensland respectively.
The helicopters can be used for forward scouting and as escort for the MRH-90 Taipan helicopters while operating from a naval vessel.
Image: Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter is being directed onto the deck of HMAS Canberra to conduct flight trials. Photo: courtesy of Royal Australian Navy.