The British Army is retiring its fleet of Westland Lynx helicopter after a long and distinguished career stretching back nearly 40 years.
Described as a primary battlefield utility helicopter, the venerable Lynx entered service in 1978 and since then has been used to: destroy tanks, evacuate the wounded, gather intelligence, provide humanitarian support, rescue those in peril, wow the crowds at air shows and much more besides.
It’s proven itself across the globe in such exacting locations as: the freezing plains of Northern Canada, the steaming jungles of South East Asia and Central America, the sub-zero environment of the Arctic to the dust bowls of the Middle East and has supported British troops on active service in Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.
AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat will replace the Lynx in the Army service. With its superior avionics engines and improved capability it will prove a formidable force over any battlefield of the future.
To mark the Lynx’s decommissioning from British Army service, the Army Air Corps (AAC) are to fly five of the last remaining air frames from RAF Odiham in Hampshire, where they are based, on a commemorative tour around England taking in some of the sites and locations to which the aircraft is most fondly associated: Middle Wallop, Upavon, Yeovil, Wattisham to name a few.
The flight will culminate in an impressive V5 ‘air procession’ along the length of the River Thames over Central London.
Westland Lynx is a British multi-purpose military helicopter designed and built by Westland Helicopters at its factory in Yeovil.
Originally intended as a utility craft for both civil and naval usage, military interest led to the development of both battlefield and naval variants.
The Lynx went into operational usage in 1977 and was later adopted by the armed forces of over a dozen nations, primarily serving in the battlefield utility, anti-armour, search and rescue (SAR) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) roles.
The Lynx has the distinction of being the world’s first fully aerobatic helicopter with the ability to perform loops and rolls. In 1986, a specially modified Lynx set the current Fédération Aéronautique Internationale’s (FAI) official airspeed record for helicopters at 400.87 km/h, which remains unbroken.
Several land and naval variants of the Lynx have been produced along with some major derivatives. The Westland 30 was produced as a civil utility helicopter; it did not become a commercial success and only a small number were built during the 1980s.
In the 21st century, a modernised variant of the Lynx was designed as a multi-role combat helicopter, designated as the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat; the Wildcat is intended to replace existing Lynx helicopters. The Lynx remains in production by AgustaWestland, the successor to Westland Helicopters.
AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat
AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter designed to serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles.
In British service, common variants are being operated by both the Royal Navy and British Army to replace their Lynx Mk.7/8/9 rotorcraft.