By Captain Roger Brennan

The Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Tiger has reached an important milestone during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019.

Four Tigers from 1st Aviation Regiment at Darwin joined two MRH90 maritime support helicopters to train aircrew and ground staff for day and night deck-landing qualifications on HMAS Canberra.

“We are capable of performing a full range of reconnaissance, security and attack missions to provide a security bubble." 

ARH pilot Captain Daniel Tidd said the opportunity to train on board had several benefits.

“Exercising with the Navy enables 1st Aviation Regiment the opportunity to work together to integrate the aviation and maritime assets,” Captain Tidd said.

“It also allows our ground crew aviation support, maintainers and aircrew the opportunity to live, work and train on board in order to understand how we conduct sorties from the ship.” 

Army and Navy personnel prepare to conduct flight deck operations with the Tiger ARH Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter on board HMAS Canberra. Photo: Corporal Kylie Gibson

Once certified for the Navy’s Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), the ARH would allow the Canberra-class ships to become completely operational as an amphibious platform.

“Our aim is to replicate the mission profiles we conduct on land. From there we will be able to layer different operational components but adapt our point of origin to the maritime domain,” Captain Tidd said.

“This is the first significant deployment for the ARH and 1st Aviation Regiment onto a maritime platform. It’s a big step that offers a lot more choices, broadens our capability and offers commanders options.

“The ADF’s amphibious capability with air-mobile and air-assault operations from a maritime platform is now a possibility.”

The Tigers are expected to carry out reconnaissance, escort and air mobile missions from both land and sea.

“This is the last step in reaching final operational capability."

The Commanding Officer of 1st Aviation Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Bartle, said the light-attack helicopters were on Canberra to transfer knowledge from test pilots and qualified flying instructors to operational crew. 

“The key attribute the ARH brings to the joint environment is security,” Lieutenant Colonel Bartle said.

“We are capable of performing a full range of reconnaissance, security and attack missions to provide a security bubble that the Joint Task Force can operate under.     

A Tiger prepares for take-off on board HMAS Canberra. Photo: Corporal Kylie Gibson

“This is the last step in reaching final operational capability for the Australian Defence Force in achieving its amphibious deployment and sustainment system objectives in the maritime environment.”

For Captain Tidd, the journey has come almost full circle: he entered the Navy flying program straight out of high school before he transferred to the Australian Army Aviation Corps.

The ARHs will remain with the Joint Task Force until IPE19 finishes in Darwin in late May.