The Eurocopter EC 665 Tiger (also known as the PAH-2 in German service) began as a joint Franco-German development to replace their ageing Gazelle and Bo 105 anti-tank helicopters with a modern dedicated attack gunship with similar capabilities to the US Apache. The result is a highly advanced helicopter with the now traditional stepped two-seat cockpit and slender fuselage found in most modern gunships although the Tiger is unique in that the pilot, not the gunner, is seated at front, a configuration which requires offset seats for greater forward visibility. Among its roles include anti-tank missions, mixed ground-target engagements, combat support, surveillance, and reconnaissance all of which can be performed successfully thanks to its extreme survivability achieved through redundant electrical, fuel, and hydraulic systems, advanced cockpit displays, and extensive use of composite materials. Some other features include a mast-mounted sight and laser designators but these vary among versions optimized for multi-role, armed recon, and fire support missions. Current (or planned) foreign operators of the Tiger include Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Spain.
The first Tiger development aircraft flew on 27 April 1991 but difficulties (including the crash of the fourth prototype) slowed the introduction of the first units to the French Army only until 2003. The Tiger is currently being developed in three different versions, French variants include the Tiger HAP escort/fire support type with significant air-to-air capabilities and the Tiger HAC anti-tank type which can be equipped with a variety of missiles including HOT, Mistral, and Trigat. The main German variant is the Tiger UHT multi-role helicopter with a blend of the features available in the HAP and HAC models.