The first four upgraded Lynx Mk9 helicopters, which are to be sent to Afghanistan, have re-entered service, with three of the aircraft now being used for training, prior to deployment, at 9 Regiment Army Air Corps in Dishforth, North Yorkshire.
The upgrades on initially twelve Mk9s were ordered by the MOD a year ago, with upgrades on the remaining ten aircraft likely to follow.
The Mk9a benefits from a considerably more powerful engine that enables operation in the challenging hot and high conditions of Afghanistan and the same engine is also being fitted to the new Lynx Wildcat which is expected to be delivered to the military from 2014.
Lift capacity in the Mk9a is increased by 1 tonne over the earlier version.
Other improvements include an updated instrument panel and digital displays and a modified gearbox and rear structure to accommodate the new powerplant. The remainder of the twelve helicopters will be delivered over this next year from AgustaWestland’s factory at Yeovil, Somerset.
Captain Richard McElwaine, the MOD Lynx team leader, commented: “The current Gem-powered Mk9, although a great aircraft for European conditions, has not got the performance required for the Afghan theatre. The upgraded aircraft will provide a valuable operational enhancement that will directly benefit our troops on the front line less than 18 months after contract award.”
Three of the first four Mk9s are being used by the Army Air Corps for training crews prior to an exercise deployment this month and operational deployment in late spring. Their role will include fire support, troop transport and casualty evacuation.
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