Tuesday the 16th of January marked an emotional end to flying operations by the Lynx helicopter with the British Army 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, and even wow the crowds at air shows and in 1986, a specially modified Lynx set the current Fédération Aéronautique Internationale’s official airspeed record for helicopters at 400.87 km/h, which remains unbroken as of June 2017. With a range of 280 nautical miles and a maximum take-off weight of 5330kg the Lynx can carry six fully equipped combat troops and is operated by a crew of three a Pilot, Co-Pilot and a rear crewman and can be armed with either a 7.62 General Purpose Machine Gun or a M3M 50 Cal heavy machine gun.

The Lynx has 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. 

However after almost continued operational use time has finally caught up with the Lynx and its replacement is already here in the form of the Agusta Westland AW159 Wildcat although bearing resemblance to the Lynx with its superior avionics, upgraded engines and improved capability its sure to prove a formidable force over any battlefield of the future.

To mark the Lynx’s decommissioning from British Army service, the Army Air Corps have flown four of the last remaining airframes 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 such as Middle Wallop, Upavon, Yeovil, Wattisham to name a few with the flight culminating in an impressive V formation of the four aircraft along the length of the River Thames over Central London before returning back to Odiham for the final time.      

 

Article by Kurt Fairhurst Assisted by Paul Atkin with special thanks to the British Army, No.657 Squadron AAC and Royal Air Force Odiham