London - Germany has started its first combat deployment involving its army's Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters, with four of the type having arrived at Mazar-e-Sharif air base in Afghanistan late last year.
An initial two Tigers arrived at the site on 14 December aboard a Volga-Dnepr-operated Antonov An-124 transport aircraft (below), after being flown from Leipzig/Halle airport. The second pair followed around one week later.
Images of one of the aircraft performing initial flights in the country in late December (below) show it carrying unguided rocket and machine gun pods.
The German army expects to begin flying active missions with its deployed Tigers later during the first quarter of 2013, conducting missions including reconnaissance, transport helicopter escort and fire support tasks. The detachment forms part of Berlin's ongoing contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Eurocopter delivered its first four Tigers to have been upgraded to a so-called Afghanistan Stabilisation German Army Rapid Deployment (ASGARD) standard to the service's 36 Combat Helicopter Regt in Fritzlar in July 2012, with four more due to have followed during December. The standard introduces additional defensive systems, enhanced communications equipment and engine sand filters.
Germany's deployment of the Tiger to Afghanistan follows the type's operation in the country by the French army, which began using the aircraft there in late 2009.