Army Lynx helicopters set for £42m operational upgrades 26 March 2010
A new £42M contract will upgrade ten more Lynx helicopters to improve the air support available to forces on the front line in Afghanistan, the MOD announced today.
The Lynx upgrade to Mk9A standard will deliver 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 follows a £50m contract to upgrade 12 Lynx helicopters and brings the total number of Lynx upgraded to Mk9A standard to 22.
April deployment for first copters
The first upgraded Lynx Mk9A helicopters will deploy to Afghanistan in April. The aircraft's role on operations will 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.
Welcoming the Lynx Mk9As, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies said: “This improved version of the very successful Lynx helicopter will greatly benefit our troops in Afghanistan when it deploys there for the first time next month.
"The enhancements will allow it to perform in the extremes of climate and geography that characterise that theatre of operations.”
Operate more effectively in challenging conditions
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 last year 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 today.
Considerable improvement in performance
Lieutenant Colonel Mike McGinty said: “The Regiment has been training with the upgraded aircraft for some months and can confirm that it represents a considerable improvement in performance over its predecessor.
"We anticipate that it will be a very valuable asset on operations against the insurgents in Afghanistan.”
Guiseppe Orsi, Chief Executive Officer of AgustaWestland, said: “The company is delighted to be delivering these aircraft to the Army against a tight timeframe so the benefits can be appreciated on the front line as soon as possible. This contract extension will allow us to complete the task.”
Flying hours have increased by 137%
This latest announcement follows a series of improvements made to helicopter capability, including:
- the MoD buying 22 brand new Chinooks, with the first 10 being delivered by 2012 /13;
- a £408m upgrade to existing Chinook fleet with new engines and digitised cockpits;
- arrival of the first of the eight Chinook Mk3s by the end of this year;
- the first upgraded Merlin helicopters deployed to Afghanistan in November 2009 and Since November 2006, the number of UK airframes available to commanders in Afghanistan has doubled
- over the same period the number of flying hours has increased by 137%.