Germany Defends Performance of Crashed Tiger Helicopter In Mali (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published July 27, 2017)
By Andrea Shalal
Germany deployed four Tiger UHT attack helicopters to Mali in March of this year, one of which crashed July 27 in the northern part of the country killing its two-man crew. Pictured is the arrival of the first two Tigers at a forward base. (GE MoD photo)
BERLIN --- Germany's defence ministry on Thursday defended the performance of its Tiger helicopters as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali amid indications that Wednesday's deadly crash of one of the aircraft was due to technical factors.
Two crew members were killed when one of Germany's four Tiger helicopters crashed in the West African nation's desert north on Wednesday, but there were no signs that it was downed by an attack, German officials said.
It was the first deadly accident involving Germany's Tiger helicopters. Two crew members escaped with minor injuries during an earlier crash in 2013 during a training flight in Bavaria. There was no indication that the two crashes were related.
The Tiger helicopters, which first began flying in Mali earlier this year, required extra maintenance given the high heat and other environmental conditions, but had been completing all tasks required by the United Nations, a ministry spokesman said. He said the helicopters had been performing well.
A team of 15 German military officials was due to arrive in Mali late on Thursday to search for the flight data recorder from the crashed helicopter which went down suddenly with no distress call, according to military officials.
A ministry report submitted to parliament in November showed the total fleet of 27 German Tiger helicopters had a readiness of just 44 percent. But it said the aircraft hit readiness rates of 90 percent during a deployment to Afghanistan for 18 months in 2012 and 2013. (end of excerpt)
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Mali Crash: German Military Pilots' Group Cites Deficiencies
(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; posted July 27, 2017)
The helicopter crash in Mali has been attributed to insufficient testing and flight training by a military pilots' lobby group. But the Bundeswehr says it doesn't deploy inexperienced crews to the UN mission.
The technician and pilot lobby group IGHT told the newspaper "Bild" Friday that Germany's Tiger combat helicopters and their crews sent into Mali's harsh deserts had been inadequately prepared.
"Our Tiger pilots don't have enough experience in the machines deployed, to fully command those helicopters in borderline situations," said Reinhardt Schlepphorst, who chairs the specialized group representing aviation personnel.
None of the Tiger pilots had reached the 140 flight hours required under NATO rules before being sent on the military operation, said Schlepphorst.
A Bundeswehr spokesman quoted by the German news agency DPA rejected that charge, saying "we send no inexperienced pilots into operation."
Wednesday's crash northeast of Gao in central Mali which claimed two lives, involved a pilot who had already served in Afghanistan, added the spokesman.
A German crash investigations team has been sent to Mali to locate the flight data recorder from the crashed helicopter, which went down suddenly early afternoon, local time, in hot temperatures of around 38 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), reportedly with no distress call.
Friday's debate is the latest exchange in a long-running row over the readiness of Bundeswehr equipment coupled with calls for more funding.
Germany deployed four Tiger and four NH-90 transport helicopters to Mali earlier this year - after a hefty Bundestag debate - as part of the UN mission MINUSMA to counter Islamist insurgents that began in 2012 following a French intervention.
Used by four nations
Wednesday's crash was the first deadly incident involving the Tiger, a two-seater German-Franco helicopter developed by Airbus, originally as an anti-tank fighter, but converted into a multi-role aircraft with infrared and TV cameras.
Europe's twin-engine helicopter series, which first entered service in 2003, is used primarily by the armies of France, Germany, Spain and Australia.
The specialist website Helis says Eurocopter, the manufacturing consortium, had delivered 120 Tiger of all variants to the four nations by 2015.
Since 1993, Germany has lost 108 soldiers due to attacks, combat, accidents and suicides during foreign deployments, including 56 in Afghanistan. Other such locations were Bosnia and Kosovo.
The first was a medical corps sergeant assigned to a UN mission in Cambodia, who was shot in 1993.