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The Lynx helicpter first flew in March 1971 and was developed under an English-French helicopter agreement. The Puma, Gazelle, and WG.13 Lynx helicopters were produced under the Anglo-French collaborative agreement of 1967 between Westlands and Aerospatiale. Design leadership on the Puma, whose development was financed by France before the package was agreed, and on the Gazelle, rests with Aerospatiale and, on the Lynx, with Westlands. Production of all three aircraft was divided between the United Kingdom and France. The Puma support helicopter entered service with the R.A.F. during 1970. This helicopter was designed by the French, but about 20 percent of the total production is being shared by Westland and Rolls-Royce; export orders for 35 aircraft were soon obtained and there are good prospects for more. The utility version of the WG.13 Lynx was used by all three UK Services and there was also a Naval version. This helicopter was designed by Westlands and has a Rolls-Royce engine. Budgetary difficulties caused the French to cancel their plans for an attaque version for their Army, but they retained the naval version and revised arrangements have been negotiated. Development proceeded satisfactorily and led to the start of production in 1972.

The Anglo-French helicopters were enthusiastically received by the United Kingdom Services. They incorporate a number of technical innovations. Westlands, for example, received the MacRobert award of the Council of Engineers Institutions for design features incorporated in the Lynx, the British-designed member of the family. By 1978 export of the Puma and Gazelle, which came into service in 1969 and 1972 respectively, exceed sales to the United Kingdom and French Governments, while export orders of the Lynx already exceeded 35, even though the aircraft had only just entered operational service. The prospects of further substantial export business were promising, particularly in the Middle East.

There are two main versions of the Lynx: a wheeled version primarily for naval use and an army version with skids or skis. Super Lynx is the only helicopter in its weight class designed specifically for operations from small ships in all weathers and high sea states. With over 120 aircraft in service, Battlefield Lynx was the British Army's frontline transport helicopter.

The four-blade main rotor is mounted on a hump on top of the cabin, with two turboshaft engines mounted on top of the rear of the cabin. The fuselage features an oval, stepped-up and glassed-in cockpit with a box-like cargo compartment. Landing skids are used on on army versions, while naval versions have wheels. The high-mounted, tapered tail boom includes a swept-back fin which is tapered, along with a siingle flat on right side near top of tail fin and a tail rotor on left side.

Lynx has been used extensively within the British Army Air Corps for a wide variety of roles and tasks. It is predominantly a battlefield utility helicopter although it has been used for both anti-tank and reconnaissance operations. The addition of door gunners has allowed Lynx to operate in the very close air support role in Iraq and Afghanistan. Versions in service with the Army Air Corps - include Mk 7 (skids) and Mk 9 (wheeled undercarriage). The Lynx still holds the helicopter world speed record, and thanks to its semi-rigid titanium rotor head it is also superbly manoeuvrable. This makes it the centrepiece of Army Aviation display flying.

A new £42M contract upgraded ten more Lynx helicopters to improve the air support available to forces on the front line in Afghanistan, the MOD announced 26 March 2010. The Lynx upgrade to Mk9A standard delivered more powerful engines, strengthened airframes, increased firepower using the heavier calibre 0.5" gun and more advanced instruments and electronics, improving the helicopters' performance in the extreme conditions of Afghanistan.

This £41.8m contact with AgustaWestland of Yeovil followed a £50m contract to upgrade 12 Lynx helicopters and brings the total number of Lynx upgraded to Mk9A standard to 22. The first upgraded Lynx Mk9A helicopters deployed to Afghanistan in April 2010. The aircraft's role on operations include convoy overwatch, support helicopter escort, reconnaissance and surveillance, and the movement of personnel. It can carry a crew of three and up to five passengers.

The more powerful engine fitted as part of the upgrade is the same as that being used in the new Wildcat helicopter which AugustaWestland are also working on. The more powerful engine will enable the Lynx to operate more effectively in the challenging conditions of the Afghan summer months. Deliveries of the Mk9A to the Army Air Corps (AAC) began at the end of 2009 and Mr Davies accepted the seventh airframe from AgustaWestland’s Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi, and handed it over to the Commanding Officer of 9 Regt AAC Lieutenant Colonel Mike McGinty in a ceremony at the company's Yeovil plant 26 March 2010.

Upgrades to Mk9A standard Lynx deliver more powerful engines, strengthened airframes, increased firepower and more advanced instruments and electronics, improving the helicopter's performance in the extreme conditions of Afghanistan. It is fitted with a more advanced communication system, improved surveillance equipment and the M3M Machine Gun - a 0.50" calibre weapon, capable of firing over 850 rounds a minute. Twelve upgraded Lynx Mk9A deployed in May 2010.

Super Lynx 300

In 1998, Westland launched the Super Lynx 300 program, representing a new generation of the Lynx. Malaysia placed an order for six Super Lynx in 1999 and the Royal Thai Navy confirmed its order for two Super Lynx 300 in August 2001. The Sultanate of Oman signed an agreement in January 2002 to provide the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) with sixteen Super Lynx 300 helicopters to replace RAFO's current helicopters.

Developed from the proven Super Lynx 100, Super Lynx 300 incorporates an all new integrated "glass" cockpit with a colour liquid crystal display system provides the crew with state-of-the-art technology increasing crew and mission effectiveness. The more powerful CTS800-4N engines, jointly developed by Rolls-Royce and Honeywell, complemented with a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) delivers low maintenance, enhanced performance and excellent economy with over 30% more power.

At a signing ceremony held in Pretoria 14 August 2003, Minister Lekota, Minister of Defence signed the agreement on behalf of the Department of Defence for the supply of four Super Lynx 300 maritime helicopters together with an initial product support package. Other signatories to the agreement on behalf of the Government of South Africa were Mr Sipho Thomo, CEO of Armscor and Dr Alistair Ruiters, Director General of the DTI. Mr Richard Case, Chairman of Westland Helicopters, signed on behalf of Westland Helicopters Ltd.

This important contract represents another significant chapter in the Lynx 300 success story following previous orders from Malaysia, Oman and Thailand. Super Lynx 300 will be operated by the South African National Defence Force and will be utilised as a ship-borne helicopter operating from the new MEKO Class Corvettes. The South African Government announced in November 1998 their intention to select the Super Lynx 300 as their preferred solution following a thorough evaluation of the aircraft and its competitors. Minister Lekota commented that: " The purchase of the Super Lynx 300 maritime helicopter by South Africa will enhance the South African Defence Forces capability to operate in the demanding maritime environment off South Africa and will complement the capability of the new corvettes."

A key factor in the selection of the Super Lynx 300 are the level of benefits accruing to South African Industry through National Industrial Participation (NIP) and Defence Industrial Participation (DIP) arrangements. To this end, a number of key systems to be fitted on the aircraft will be provided by South African companies. In addition, AgustaWestland will be sourcing South African aircraft components and systems for a variety of other helicopter programs and in conjunction with its parent companies, GKN and Finmeccanica, who have already invested significantly in South Africa, will be making additional investments. Richard Case confirmed that: "This selection by South Africa brings with it, membership of an International Lynx Club that has logged extensive military flying experience of over 1.5 million hours. The Super Lynx 300 variant reflects the latest standard in the successful Lynx family and demonstrates the significant commitment and investment by AgustaWestland to maintain the lead position of Lynx in the global helicopter market."

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Page last modified: 21-06-2016 19:00:15 ZULU