Germany blasts 'serious defects' in EADS combat helicopter
The German defence ministry on Tuesday slammed "serious defects" in the Tiger combat helicopter from aerospace and defence company EADS, leading to delays in their deployment in Afghanistan.
Germany has ordered 80 of the helicopters from Eurocopter, a subsidiary of the France-based European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, but a defence ministry spokesman said the aircraft was marred by technical bugs.
"There are serious defects, particularly with its wiring," rendering the Tigers unready for combat, the spokesman told AFP.
Of the 80 Tiger helicopters Germany ordered in 1999, 67 were to have been delivered by the end of 2009.
Eleven Tiger helicopters have been delivered but "not the expected version," the spokesman said.
He said the first combat-ready helicopters were not expected before 2012 and called the delays a blow for the military which "urgently" needs the aircraft in Afghanistan, where Germany has deployed about 4,300 troops.
Eurocopter said in a statement that it was working on the defects.
"Corrective measures related to Tiger's wiring problems have been developed, agreed by the customer and are being implemented," it said.
"The first two helicopters will be handed over to the German official services in June and July for intensive tests."
The German government has said it aims to begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan next year.
Another EADS plane, the Airbus A400M military transport plane, has also faced major delays amid cost overruns estimated at 5.2 billion euros (6.3 billion dollars).
© 2010 AFP