The RC 665, known in France as the Tigre and in Germany as the Tiger, was planned in 1984 to meet French and German requirements for an advanced multi-role type for battlefield operations in the typical European scenario. After much deliberation Eurocopter received a contract to build five prototype/development helicopters in November 1989. Three were to be unarmed aerodynamic testbeds and the other two armed prototypes for the basically similar Tiger/Tigre anti-tank variants required by Germany and France (one prototype), and for a French escort helicopter variant.
The basic type is of typical attack helicopter configuration with an airframe built largely of composite materials and optimised for high-survivability over the modern battlefield. The first prototype made its maiden flight in April 1991. Three versions are being developed in two basic layouts. The ALAT requires 100 HAC (Helicoptere Anti-Char) anti-tank helicopters while the German army needs 212 UHT (Unterstutzungshubschrauber Tiger) anti-tank/multi-role support helicopters.
Both HAC and UHT share a common mast-mounted TV/forward-looking infra-red/ laser rangefinder sighting system for the gunner, nose-mounted forward-looking infra-red for the pilot and Trigat missile armament. The UHT may later be fitted with a turret-mounted 30-mm Mauser cannon.
The Tigre HAP (Helicoptere d'Appui et de protection) is being developed for the French army, which requires 115 such examples for the escort and fire support roles. The HAP carries a chin turret-mounted 30-mm GIAT M30/781B cannon, STRIX roof-mounted sight plus armament of up to 68 SNEB 68-mm rockets and Mistral AAMs.
In June 1999 both French and German governments signed a production contract for an initial batch of 160 helicopters. The first Tiger and Tigre entered German and French service in 2002 and 2003 respectively.